Companies should focus more energy on employee retention


August 30, 2021


Truly Nolen Pest Control shows off its “fun place to work” features in many ways, including its Mouse Limo’s triumphant return to the annual Prescott (Ariz.) Frontier Days Rodeo Parade this summer. PHOTO: TRULY NOLEN PEST CONTROL

Every company is homing in on finding talent — even CIA recruiting ads are popping up on my social media feed! More than ever, recruiting costs are inflated and companies are becoming more desperate. However, companies should focus more of their energy and dollars on retention. Retaining employees is always more effective and less costly than finding new talent.

Turnover costs are often underestimated. Advertising, screening and background checks are just the beginning. Productivity and company culture are the major costs. According to Employee Benefit News, companies spend nearly one third of an employee’s annual salary during the replacement process. To break that down, $12,000 will be spent on an entry-level employee making $36,000 a year, and $20,000 will be spent replacing a manager making $60,000 a year. The cost of turnover adds up fast. These numbers are consistent with our company’s turnover costs.

Our industry, more than others, thrives with tenure. Customers like seeing a familiar face when navigating the intimacy of their pest issues. This is exemplified on routes where the service professional knows their customers over many years and the customers are notably retained at higher rates. Conversely, a route with high technician turnover will often have low customer retention. So how does a company retain its talent? Invest in developing your employees. Give people an opportunity to earn an income to provide for their family. And as trite as it might be to say, have fun.

Promote. Promotion from within is one of the most powerful ways to grow a service organization. Don’t think you can promote? Develop. The employee development philosophy my late father, Truly David Nolen, had, as cited from his book Truly Original, is as follows: “Let each person follow her or his passion. What you know the most about is what will interest you the most and in turn will lead to the happiness in work and success as defined by each person.” These simple, yet profound words have been the guide to a key piece of our company’s success. Showing employees a career path that align with their goals and provide education to further hone their skills is critical. Developing your talent is a win for the employee, win for the customer, and a win for the company.

Example: Schedule a lunch meeting with each employee and go over their professional and personal goals quarterly. Ask them what support they believe they need to reach those goals.

Compensation. Compensation can be complicated. While pay is not a good motivator, it can certainly be a de-motivator. Some people prefer the ability to control their income based on efforts via commission pay, while others favor the consistency of a salary. When you add in benefits packages, market demand and government requirements — it becomes complicated to satisfy everyone. Regardless, an organization’s responsibility is to provide a transparent path to meet the financial goals of the employee. We recently provided a $300 pandemic bonus to our frontline branch employees for their hard work and dedication throughout the current climate because I wanted them to understand how much we appreciate them. Beyond pay, people need to feel appreciated and recognized if you want them to stick around.

Example: Sit down with your employees and ensure they understand their full compensation package and ways to increase it. Don’t be shy to ask them questions such as “Does your compensation package match your expectations?”

Fun. People must have fun at work, alluded to in my father’s quote I mentioned above. He always used to say, “Have fun with what you do and everything else will follow.” Our instinct as managers is to create processes, invest in tracking software, and let the numbers guide us to our success. While employment retention tools can be helpful for managing and staying organized, they do not help you lead, nor do they help you actually retain employees. Leaders need to find a way to have fun every day. If you are having fun, then you are doing something right.

Example: Play good-hearted pranks. Crack a joke.

Therefore, don’t lose sight of the importance of employee retention; retaining employees ultimately helps your overall bottom line and makes your company somewhere new people want to join!


About the Author

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Scarlett Nolen was promoted to president of Truly Nolen of America in March 2019. Nolen has worked for the company since 2012 in multiple roles. Most recently, Nolen was the district manager for the “Growth District,” a district of new service offices throughout Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Prior to joining the company, Nolen graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s Degree in Experimental Psychology and Summa Cum Laude from the University of Central Florida with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.

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