Once Upon a Punch Clock: Raising the Wonka bar on Retention Rates

Stephanie Edwards - WIOA Adult Program Coordinator ·

The story of Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket contest conjures up images of hundreds of peanut conglomerate workers unwrapping thousands of chocolate bars. As they rapidly try to find the Golden Ticket for Veruca Salt, the spoiled child, she eagerly and angrily awaits a prize tour of the elusive Wonka Candy Factory.

As the workers feverishly unwrap, Veruca’s panicking father offers a tiny pay bonus to whomever finds the Golden Ticket, in hopes the workers will unwrap even faster. This bears resemblance to many operations dealing with high turnover, where employees work tirelessly for a glimmer of recognition or a reward. When an employee leaves, it is an additional burden and cost on the employer. What do we do about this? Don’t get Slugworthed into thinking employees only want more pay … let’s take a closer look. It may not be a matter of pay at all. An everlasting employee comes from an employer who hones in on the overall happiness of the team.

If a company desires to raise the bar on retention rates, here are a few of the Golden Tickets!

  1. Value all applicants, even during the interview phase. Respond quickly to their applications, and if they move forward in the interview process, make sure you give an appropriate timeline of the next steps.
  2. Be transparent as to what the employee can expect in terms of culture, job duties and compensation. Don’t make a potential employee go through orientation training prior to solidifying a job offer that outlines these expectations.
  3. Welcome the new employee on board and connect them with a mentor or someone they can ask questions to.
  4. Train an employee in a structured format, where the employee can feel safe to make mistakes and ask questions while being supported by the trainer.
  5. Provide a salary at or above competitive wages for the market and be open to providing performance-based wage increases.
  6. Automate tedious tasks that could be done more efficiently, and allow the employee to make tasks more efficient if they desire.
  7. Schedule both daily tasks and shifts consistently. NOTE: If the schedule must rotate, attempt to create schedules a month in advance to leave the employee enough time for outside planning.
  8. Reward and incentivize great work.
  9. Construct positive and necessary feedback, not just during quarterly reviews, but throughout the week.
  10. Ask employees what their goals are and provide opportunities to foster longevity and learning with the company.

And finally, in the words of EDSI’s Chief Servant Leader Kevin Schnieders, “Strive to give employees what they need, and not just want they want.” Adherence to this idea will also lead to greater employee satisfaction and reduced turnover. If only Mr. Salt had applied that advice when raising Veruca!