A survey by the ADP Research Institute® of business owners who employed fewer than 50 people in 2015 found that 40 percent of owners and managers felt filling those jobs was more difficult than expected, and 32 percent said it took longer than expected.
The most prevalent issues small businesses identified in the ADP study were a longer hiring cycle (34 percent), a loss of productivity (28 percent) and employees not meeting expectations for the position (25 percent).1
Retention of high-performing employees is another critical challenge for small-business owners. According to SCORE, a nonprofit organization supported by the Small Business Administration to support the development and growth of small businesses, the cost of employee turnover is estimated at 75 to 150 percent of an employee’s salary, and 30 percent of small-business failures are blamed on poor hiring decisions.2
Because recruitment of new employees is so competitive and is expected to remain competitive for the foreseeable future, employers who pay attention to talent management trends will have an advantage over those who don’t, says Ann Torry, vice president of marketing for BirdDogHR, a talent management software and managed services company. “As baby boomers retire and millennials make up a greater percentage of the workforce, employers must become more strategic about how they hire and how they manage employees,” she said. “There is more of a focus on hiring the right employee for the job, then working to retain that employee.”
Tom Haak, director of the HR Trend Institute, a global consulting firm based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, says that there are three talent management trends that
Based on these trends, the following are strategies that will differentiate a car wash owner from other businesses competing for employees.
Use corporate culture to define ideal employee
“Organizations select employees more on personality, values and fit with the company culture than on education and knowledge,” said Haak. Making sure the employee will be comfortable with the company’s mission, goals and approach to business increases the likelihood that the employee will be successful in the job.
“Establish the company’s mission and goals, communication strategies and commitment to transparency, and then define personnel policies and benefits to reflect that culture,” advises Torry. “Once you know what type of culture you want, recruit employees who fit that culture.”
When there is a plan, you can avoid “panic hires,” said Torry. “One of our clients, a convenience store franchisee with multiple locations, wanted to decrease turnover so there would be an experienced staff to meet the rapid growth of the business,” she explains. “The owner and managers were guilty of hiring to fill open positions as quickly as possible — panic hires — rather than hiring the best people for the job and the company.”
By implementing a comprehensive interview process to identify people with the right attributes, and using software tools to attract qualified applicants, the company doubled staff size in just over one year. “It also now takes about 45 percent less time to fill open positions,” Torry said.
Recognize individual talents, skills and needs
“The most important trend in talent management is individualization,” Haak says. Business owners no longer need to assume what talents are needed and what skills or talents people possess, he points out. “With the help of technology and talent analytics, it is possible to quickly get a good view on the individuals in the organization and match individuals and opportunities.”
Businesses must also offer employees a chance to use their talents and expand their skills, Haak said. “Organizations that utilize the potential of their talent by making a good match between wishes, capabilities and opportunities to craft a positive employee experience will be winners.”
Tapping into employees’ skills and interests not only engages them more fully but also gives the business an opportunity to identify future company leaders. Haak points to three global companies that offer employees a chance to contribute beyond their established job description:
• A large airline created an online market for special assignments. All employees can apply, regardless of their specific job, and spend a certain amount of time on a specific assignment.
• Arcadis, a large engineering and design company, created a global talent program, Global Shapers, where globally all employees with five or fewer years of experience can apply to work on strategic challenges of the company.
• Booking.com, an online hotel booking service, gives new employees in customer service and information technology an opportunity to participate in an online selection process that includes tests and clever simulations to make a good match between applicants and opportunities.
Even though larger companies have more resources, small businesses can adapt strategies driven by talent management trends to their own organization, says Tom Wiederin, human resource and recruiting manager for Crew Carwash. With 27 locations and plans to add three additional stores each year, Crew Carwash not only needs to fill front-line positions but also supervisory and management positions.
“We developed a program for entry level supervisors who are often college students working part-time or full-time while going to school and planning a career in an industry other than the car wash industry,” Wiederin said. Crew is able to retain employees with the program by offering them an opportunity to develop leadership skills that will strengthen their resume upon graduation — with a significant percentage choosing to stay in the car wash industry.
Crew’s fast-track management training program geared toward full-time, experienced or college-degreed applicants is designed to attract applicants with leadership experience in other industries such as retail or restaurant. “We admit 25 to 30 applicants to the 10-month training program each year,” Wiederin said. Rotating through different areas, the management trainees learn the car wash industry, pass a series of three certification exams and earn wage increases as they advance. “When they complete the program, they are prepared to assume a shift manager position, then advance through our internal promotion process,” he said. Retention of the experienced, well-prepared managers is high — 75 to 80 percent after the first year of employment.
Create opportunities to strengthen employee engagement
One way to engage and retain employees is to recognize their different generational needs. When hiring, be aware that millennials are focused on a good work-life balance, says Steve Gaudrea, president of Brink Results, a Fort Myers, Florida-based organizational training and consulting firm. This doesn’t mean they don’t want to work or work hard, he says. “Younger employees are willing to work, but they want the flexibility to spend time with family and friends.”
Many car washes are attracting and retaining employees by revamping the work schedule, says Gaudrea. “Giving full-time workers one weekend day off each week or rotating employees so everyone gets a full weekend or two off during the month is attractive to job applicants,” he says. Flexible schedules also open up larger pools of applicants — especially for part-time work, such as college students who want to work around class schedules or adults coordinating work schedules with spouses to enable each other to care for children. This approach makes scheduling more complicated and requires hiring a mix of part-time and full-time employees to fill the schedule, but it creates a more satisfied, more engaged workforce, he says.
Technology is a constant presence in the worlds of employees of all ages, so companies need to incorporate technology into the workplace. For Kush Kapila, founder and chief executive officer of Sterlings — a mobile salon and barber company in San Diego, California and Seattle, Washington — employee access to technology is essential.
Much like onsite car detail and wash services, Sterlings contracts with corporate clients to position their mobile salon at the company’s location one or two days each month. “Clients book their own appointments through our website, and stylists not only see their client schedule but also the location schedule from week to week,” explains Kapila.
Even in an industry where employee turnover is high, Kapila says the innovative approach to offering services attracts independent, hard-working stylists who like working in an environment that is different each day and offers the technology to simplify their schedules. Although his company is only four years old, he has very low turnover, with most stylists having been with the company for over two years.
In the car wash industry, technology can be used to recruit and screen applicants, communicate with employees, give them access to work schedules and provide training.
Good communication and transparency are also important “must haves” for millennials, and in the case of the current expectations surrounding minimum wages, it can mean the difference between keeping good employees and watching them leave to chase higher wages, says Gaudrea. “If a business is in a state that has a set timeline for the increases, put together a plan to match the legislature’s requirements, and let employees know about the planned increases. A response that lets employees know that pay increases will continue, and that they play a role in the organization’s financial growth that will support the increases, is well received.”