Company loyalty isn't something that can be demanded from workers. Paying a competitive salary, providing a great benefit package, and supplying first-rate equipment certainly helps, but these points alone do not bring loyalty.
Many company employees want and need something very basic from their jobs, and from their employers –recognition. This seemingly simple idea is far too often overlooked in today's busy work schedules.
Look at the positions we offer for employment and ask, “Is this a job I would want?” Pulling up to a jobsite at Oh-Dark Thirty on a drizzly, cold, wind-blown morning isn't what most of us dream about. Shaking the ice that formed overnight from the tarps, unwinding half-frozen cords, climbing scaffolding, and checking for toe boards and cross braces before the other workers show up wasn't even in the menu of the aptitude tests I took in high school.
But then, neither was standing six frames up on someone's cabin, topping out, watching an eagle family teach its young to fish. Or learning the smell of rain, and later snow, when it was coming, and when it was time to roll up early and head home.
There are so many things we love about our residential masonry lives that it's hard to explain to someone outside the industry. The freedom, the artistry, and the way of life are intoxicating. I guess that's why we work so hard getting our companies up and running. Keeping them running takes employees, and retaining workers requires loyalty, which is earned.
Why do some employees show up, take care of what they know needs to be done, and not come to you to make sure you know it? How do you find and keep enough people like these to expand your company, and not have to oversee every last detail?
Retaining employees and earning their loyalty isn't rocket science. It doesn't even take every cent you make. It simply takes loyalty on your part.
Employers' loyalty is unique. It can be as simple as calling an employee and asking how his sick child is feeling, wishing them well, asking if you can help, or seeing if he needs a day off to visit the doctor.
Keep someone's paycheck whole if they get hurt on the job. You can help them out in their time of need. Believe me, your other employees will know exactly what you did, and they'll appreciate it, realizing you understand how important each day's pay can be to a head of household in a working family.
There is another, very simple way we can all build loyalty in our workers. Tell them how much you appreciate their efforts. Be specific. It makes a difference.
After a particularly vigorous stretch of work, when they are cleaning up or tearing down equipment, you know that they made an extra push to not have to come back the next day. You earned a big payday from their hard work. Thank them, right now.
Tell them you appreciate the extra effort. Hand out some dinner certificates, or coffee cards, or simply look them in the eye and let them know you saw what they did and you are recognizing their effort.
Building a company and a team is not easy. So many complicated ideas fly in from all directions, distracting us from very simple things we may forget to do or say to our workers.
“Thanks for a good day's work, I appreciate you,” should never be one of them.
Jamie Holliday has owned and operated Holliday Masonry in Washington State for 26 years. He is the founding Vice President of The Residential Masonry Contractors Association and vice president of the Seattle chapter. He can be reached at Jamie@residentialmasonrycontractors.com.