Small Biz: Retention issue? Ask your employees. Analyze customers.

Today’s small business challenge in the Globe & Mail concerns a Toronto based recruitment firm called Arrow Professional Services. They have 200 employees and over $11 million in revenue last year.

Their issue: Employee retention problems which is due to a very unpredictable flow of work requiring employees to be ultra flexible with their work availability.

“We work with [our clients] as much as we can to get as much projection in the forecast as possible, but the reality is that we’re lucky if we get a week’s notice.” This means employees need to be flexible. “There are certain expectations. At 3,  if a client just ordered some staff for tomorrow, then you’ve got to stay until it’s done. On the flip side, the next day, it’s okay to come in at 9:30 or 10.”

The company has done a lot to try to address this issue including training, on-boarding programs, interview screening, work distribution etc.

The experts chime in with good suggestions that primarily centre around improving current practices around recruiting, training and culture shifts.

You can read the full text here called Workload swings cause staff retention problems.

What to do? 

This is a tough one so I don’t have any magic bullets, but I have two suggestions to throw into the mix:

Firstly, throughout this description and expert answers there was one resource that they don’t seem to have tapped into yet: Current employees. Why haven’t they posed this issue to the ones who are currently in the roles and (it would seem) don’t have  an issue with the wild swings in working times?

I wrote about this very thing about a year ago in a blog called Small Business: Expand or play safe? Ask your employees. In that blog I outline an extensive suggested process to take advantage of the brain power of employees. Please have a read.

Employees are a tremendous resource and this is a fantastic opportunity for the the CEO of this company to tap into them.

Second suggestion:  Do an analysis of the customer base and identify the specific customers (or type of customer re: industry) who appear to have a pattern of “last minute” employee needs. Then create teams of employees who are dedicated to these customers. These employees would need to be willing and able to work the flex hours to accommodate them.

What would you do in this situation? How have to dealt with a similar dilemma?

Thanks for reading my blog and please visit again.

Vincent out

Related links: Other small business Globe & Mail challenges:

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