With unemployment on the rise, we would hope to see an increase in job applicants and a decrease in employee turnover. But given the relatively low average starting wages for an incredibly challenging position, school bus operators have their work cut out for them in recruiting and retaining employees. It’s for this reason that interpersonal relationships and work environment are key.
Barry Phegan, co-founder of the Meridian Group, a Berkeley, Calif.-based workplace management company, explains that many employers make the mistake of expecting high turnover, investing little time or effort in new workers with the attitude that, “They’re not going to stick around anyway.” This, he says, is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When it comes to job training, says Phegan, don’t fall into the trap of trying to reduce your financial investment in new employees by sitting them in front of a computer-training program that minimizes expensive person-to-person time. “Employees will actually walk out of the training at mid point, not even making it to the first day on the job,” he warns.
Investing time up front can greatly increase retention rates, says Phegan. Sit down with employees and have real conversations. Suggested topics: hobbies, family, travel, goals, things they enjoy about their job, things they would like to see change, etc.
Make sure that these sessions are casual and fun. Try to touch on topics that deal with the employee’s past, present and future. And be sure to share a bit of yourself in the process.
Contact: Barry Phegan, firstname.lastname@example.org; the Meridian Group, www.meridiangrp.net
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