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Employee Retention: 4 Ways to Keep Your Best Team Members


Turnover among hourly workers is high. According to Forbes, the industry average of turnover for hourly workers is 107%. That means, on average, every hourly job turns once a year – and then some. The Center for American Progress, a prominent think tank, found that replacing workers making under $30,000 per year costs 16% of their annual salary— that’s up to $4,800 for each worker who leaves!

But just as your business isn’t average in the products you make and the service you provide, it doesn’t have to be average with regard to employee retention. Here are our top strategies to improve employee retention:

Start During the Hiring Process

The hiring process is when you should be looking not just for candidates who can do the job well, but who will stick around for a long time. Make sure you’re aware of exactly what a successful employee will do – what are the job duties they will be expected to perform, what are the behaviors that are required to be effective at completing the tasks, and what are the minimum requirements an applicant must have to even be taken into consideration for the role.

A heuristic that some use in the hiring process is to weed out candidates who have short stints on their resume. It makes sense to avoid people who haven’t lasted long in their previous job if you’re looking for someone to last long in your job, right? However, if a candidate looks like a good fit overall, even though a few of their experiences were rather short, give them a second look. Make sure you have a question or two during the interview to determine why they left those jobs so quickly. It’s entirely possible that they were laid off or had to take care of a sick family member. The interview is a great time to determine someone’s character and whether their background and attitude will mesh well with your team.

Get Scheduling Right

If an employee seems to always get scheduled when they’ve said they aren’t free, your scheduling process clearly needs an overhaul. Your employees are the heartbeat of your business, interacting with customers and making sales that keep the doors open. You need their hard work each day and that means matching up your business needs as closely as possible with the schedule they want.

Introducing technology into the mix takes the scheduling process from scribbled Post-Its on a cluttered calendar to something that everyone can read clearly. Scheduling software brings the scheduling process into the 21st century, allowing you to collect availability, automate shift alerts, and duplicate schedules from templates—all from a computer or mobile device. That way, your employees will know when they’re working and have a schedule that better meets their needs.

Honor Time-Off Requests

Everyone, you included, needs a break every now and then. And employees have a lot of reasons to request time off: a vacation, a sick family member, childcare in the summertime. As a good manager, you want to grant your employees the time-off requests they’re asking for. But you also need to make sure you’re adequately staffed. If the pendulum swings too far in one direction and you don’t grant time-off requests to keep the business fully staffed, you might have a disgruntled employee. If the pendulum swings too far in the other direction and you grant time-off too liberally, you might have an understaffed business.

This can all be avoided if you improve your time-off request process. Having a deadline in place, for example at least two weeks’ notice, will keep your business running smoothly. And have employees submit time off requests digitally so you don’t miss a request. There will always be last-minute calls due to illness or emergencies, but managing the planned days off will set you up for success.


As with any interpersonal relationship in your life, communication comes first. Your employees want to know what’s going on with the business, as it relates to them. When you share more with your employees, they will be much more likely to stick around. Make sure they feel comfortable making suggestions for improving sales and efficiency, just as you give them pointers on how to improve their performance. Communication needs to flow in both directions.

These are just a few ways to improve employee retention, but they are a good start to make sure that you invest your time and resources in model employees.

John Waldmann

Written by John Waldmann

John Waldmann is the CEO and co-founder Homebase, a San Francisco-based business that provides a free software solution to make managing hourly work easier. Homebase’s simple and time-saving tools help local business owners, managers, and their employees with day-to-day tasks like scheduling, time tracking and team communication. Homebase allows business owners to do their scheduling online and enables employees to punch in on a smart phone or iPad, rather than using an old-fashioned time clock, a far more efficient method of keeping track of hours worked. Today, more than 60,000 local businesses -- across restaurants, retail, services, and more -- rely on Homebase to better control the hours in their week and the dollars in their pocket. Waldmann knows all about hourly work. His first job in high school was as a salesman in a tuxedo shop. That is when he learned first-hand about the challenges of working and getting paid by the hour. Less than a decade later, he came up with the idea for Homebase when he saw his good friend, who owned a restaurant, and his sister, who was bartending, trying to cope with running and working for a small business. Now, Waldmann’s company, Homebase, is helping over 60,000 small businesses better manage their hourly workers and provide their employees a more normal work/life balance. Waldmann, from Seattle, received his undergraduate degree at Stanford University with a BA in Sociology and Political Science and got his MBA at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business School. Before starting-up Homebase in 2013, Waldmann worked at KKR Capstone, where he provided operational and strategic consulting to investments made by KKR private equity. He also worked on-the-ground with First Data, focused on merchant payment products. Early in his career, he worked at The Boston Consulting Group, providing operational and strategic consulting to a range of clients, including large retailers and an enterprise software firm selling to small and medium businesses. Waldmann and his wife, Kim, live in San Francisco.

Read more posts by John Waldmann

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