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Letter: Employers need to do better at retaining the workers they have

Darlajean Harlow writes, "Is a constant change of employees better for your business than giving employees full-time hours with benefits, thereby leading to customer confidence and retention?"

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While it does appear true that there are more positions open than potential employees to fill them, employers can do more to retain recent hires than they are currently doing. I am going to preface this with I've been an entry level worker; I've also been a retail manager faced with dealing both with new hires and corporate's guidelines for training and retention.

Due to the fact this is now an employee's market corporate needs to rethink their training. At the current time corporate is not doing a good job of setting these folks up for success. Training that involves setting people in front of a computer for several "blocks" of training isn't ideal. I understand it cuts the cost of having a trainer in the room; however, the computer doesn't know if that teenager who is going to start his/her first job is fully attending the presentation or watching a video on a phone. Corporate will say they have to pass a test; those tests are relatively easy and with people learning how to split their attention the hire is not picking up all the information needed to do the job. There's no substitute for a person disseminating the information, like seeing a confused look on a face, being able to stop to clarify a point.

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When the person hits his/her work station there will be somebody by his/her side for possibly one or two shifts and then they are on their own. In retail this often is not enough to instill confidence in someone experiencing their first work experience. The first time the equipment acts up and there is an impatient customer in front of him/her panic sets in—depending on how many times and how the situations are handled—a new worker may feel as if he/she has completely failed or doesn't want to be put in these situations. As an employer you are lucky if they give you two week's notice or even tell you truthfully what precipitated the choice to leave.

There also needs to be more emphasis on the expectations of the employer. In retail, things such as not using your phone to scroll, play a game, or talk to your friend while at your work station is a new concept to some young people. A smile and a few kind words other than "Did you find everything" or "May I take your order" help to relax both the server and the customer. Some very basic customer service (now guest care) skills need to be taught and practiced before actually hitting the floor. Every job has some aspect of customer service attached. The concept of this needs to be taught and we currently aren't doing a very good job of it on any level—home, school, every day interactions, many examples can be given.

It's time employers at every level set up their employees at every level to succeed. It takes time and money; however, when someone feels successful at any level they stay longer and do a better job.

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One other thing most employees need is full time hours. If you're not going to give them to an employee for 6 months or possibly never that employee is going to leave as soon as a better opportunity presents and he/she will be looking for that. Is a constant change of employees better for your business than giving employees full-time hours with benefits, thereby leading to customer confidence and retention? Corporate needs to rethink their benefit policy.

Employee retention is about thorough training at every level.

Darlajean Harlow lives in Fargo.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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