A Proper Investment In Your Workforce Will Boost Employee Retention Efforts

Much of a company’s success has to do with the quality of its employees, so it’s vital to hang on to the good ones. These companies serve as prime examples of the types of methods that tell your employees they’re valued members of the team.

A Proper Investment In Your Workforce Will Boost Employee Retention Efforts

A central component of the business model of Southern Hydro Vac in Powder Springs, Georgia, is a comprehensive employee training program that, in addition to helping employees more easily adopt the company’s operating and business philosophies, also boosts company loyalty because employees appreciate that the company is investing in their future.

Investing in advanced technology that amps up productivity and safety is a primary focus at Seneca Waste Solutions. But it also invests heavily in something equally as important: its 75 or so employees.

“Companies that fail to invest in new technologies and equipment, as well as their people, eventually get left behind,” says Chris Biellier, vice president of environmental and strategic partnerships for parent company Seneca Cos., based in Des Moines, Iowa. “We have a desire to grow, and in order to grow, we have to be willing to invest in new technologies and people. You can’t have just one or the other — it has to be both.”

About 10 years ago, Seneca Waste Solutions took a hard look at the causes of employee turnover, and the information gleaned from that study inform many of the current employee-management philosophies and practices.
About 10 years ago, Seneca Waste Solutions took a hard look at the causes of employee turnover, and the information gleaned from that study inform many of the current employee-management philosophies and practices.

At Seneca Waste Solutions, investing in employees means many things, including buying equipment that keeps them safer on job sites, listening to their needs, sharing information and empowering them to solve problems — as well as rewarding them for doing so.

As an example of the latter, Biellier points to an employee involved in a hydroexcavating project that involved slot trenching — under a very tight deadline — for installation of an underground irrigation system. The employee noticed the nozzle tips were using more water than necessary, which was slowing down the job.

“So he did an internet search and found a company that manufactures specialty pulse-and-rotate tips that direct the water in such a way that they cut soil more efficiently and create less spoil,” Biellier says.

The company also holds regular post-project meetings where employees critique jobs, pointing out what went well and what could be done differently next time to improve the results.

“We allow that dialogue to occur very freely,” Biellier says. “We’re very transparent with information; employees share any ideas they have. And we reward them financially for coming up with good ideas.”

About 10 years ago, Seneca Waste Solutions took a hard look at the causes of employee turnover, and the information gleaned from that study inform many of the current employee-management philosophies and practices. For example, the company now rotates the crews who are on call during weekends and holidays, since schedule unpredictability was revealed as a sore point. And it compensates those on-call employees whether they’re called in to work or not.

“Every company has turnover, but we have less than we did 10 years ago,” Biellier says. “We learned how to run our business by being observant of the conditions under which our employees work. Sometimes pay is the issue. For others, it’s available free time, modern equipment and how managers talk to people and engage them.”

A central component of the business model of Southern Hydro Vac in Powder Springs, Georgia, is a comprehensive employee training program.

“We evaluated the industry and recognized a need for better production and employees with superior training,” says Guy Rimoldi, president of Southern Hydro Vac. “It’s one thing to have the technology in place, but it’s a whole different matter to train employees so they know how to maximize that technology.”

Aside from minimizing the risk of injuries and keeping insurance costs in check, the training provides another benefit that’s critical to employee retention: a clear, well-defined path to career advancement and higher pay. Employees can aim for nearly 20 different levels of certification and get corresponding pay raises every time they take another step up the certification ladder.

“It offers a transparent path for employees to move up in the company,” Rimoldi says. “They’re tested every step of the way. We have four dedicated trainers who go out on the trucks and train guys as they come through the ranks. Their titles change and pay increases every time they get a different certification.”

The training program helps employees more easily adopt the company’s operating and business philosophies. It also boosts company loyalty because employees appreciate that the company is investing in their future. 

“As employees move ahead and make more money, they buy into the program,” Rimoldi says. “They become experts in their field, which makes them more valuable. And at some point, if they’re aggressive enough and stay with the company, they can become trainers.”

Advancement isn’t limited to fieldwork, either. Sometimes fieldworkers move into administrative positions if they show leadership potential. As examples, Rimoldi cites two fieldworkers, one who became a service coordinator and another who stepped into a marketing role.



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