Want to keep your best talent? Little things make a big difference.

I often hear from managers and CEOs about how hard it is to find and keep good people. “Nobody wants to work these days.” I don’t believe that’s true and I don’t believe it takes a lot of money to attract and retain good people.

Let’s address finding good people in the next post. First, I’d like to discuss keeping the good people you already have.

Yesterday I spent a few minutes talking to my regular delivery driver. He works for a large, well known shipping company. Because of my various ventures, I receive or ship almost daily. This gives me an opportunity to get to know ‘my’ drivers.

I’m based in a rural area. The drivers here work long, tough days. They typically put in a 10 hour day because they must cover a lot of territory. They must drive delivery trucks designed for city use over mountain roads, bumpy roads and often dirt roads. In the winter, they have to put chains on to reach certain points, take them off for the main roads and then chain up again for a side road. Chaining up a truck isn’t fun and sometimes they have to go through that mess several times in one day.

Back to my conversation with my big name shipping company driver. He seemed a little less cheerful than usual. I asked him how things were going and he expressed dissatisfaction with his boss. He wasn’t nasty about it nor was he all that negative. He simply said he wasn’t being taken care of as well as he could be. I was interested in his “issue” because I’m always trying to learn something about the workings of businesses.

He told me that his daily route took him 10 hours to complete on a good day. Most of the time is spent in very remote areas. His truck doesn’t have a radio. He tried a portable radio but there is no radio reception in our area. So, he asked for a satellite radio for his truck. These aren’t expensive to install and the service is cheap. His request was denied. He is thinking about quitting and has a solid job offer.

I’d hate to see this guy go. He gives me great service. And I’m not an easy customer because he’s got to call me to arrange a delivery or pick up. We’ve got a locked gate. Then he must drive down a dirt road for a half mile to make the delivery. Sure, it comes with the territory. But what’s the big deal to spend $200 to provide the guy with a radio? It’s a lot cheaper than giving him the raise he probably deserves.

I see this kind of thing often, particularly in lower wage jobs. People have jobs to do with tools that don’t work or where some little thing would make their work more tolerable—a small heater by the desk in the warehouse, a fan in the workshop or a radio in a truck. Most of the time, the complaint is expressed in terms of treatment and not as ‘want’. “I just don’t feel like the boss cares about the work I do unless I screw up”.

Why? Doing simple things for your workers shows appreciation. Workers crave appreciation but very few get it. I really don’t understand that because it’s not hard or expensive to do.

If you look around, you can easily identify things that could make the work day better for your people. The benefits are huge and it doesn’t take much. If you have a lot of employees, you don’t have to do everything at once. In fact, it’s better not to. Take a group to lunch and say thanks. Order pizzas for the shop crew. Get a few gift certificates for the office people. Show appreciation. It’s worth it.

Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog
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