staff retention, and my golden handcuffs policy that failed.....

More of a rant than anything else, but please feel free to share any retention ideas that you have been successful with, and ones that didn’t work too.

My area;
the available labor force is so thin, that the fast-food places are typically forced to close a few nights per week because they do not have enough staff to operate the store, so now they are offering upwards of $10/hour to start with zero experience, and a $500.00 signing bonus to be collected at 6 months of employment!
So trying to find a decent employee is very tough around here.

I lost a great delivery guy this summer by him taking a position at a quick-Lube place, He wants to be a mechanic, but does not quite have the inherent skills to do it IMHO. (been there, done that on diesels and gas engines)
He gave us a 3-week notice, he left on good terms, your basic model employee just looking to better himself.
When he left, we explained that if things do not work out, he is welcomed back here. (I kinda knew he wouldn’t last there due to his unique personality)
So, when I heard he had lost his lube-tech job, I reached out and reminded him that he had a place here. He came back, and after 1 week I asked what his intentions were, if he planned to stick around, or just use this as a stop-gap until something more appealing came around.
He said “I don’t know”
So, before I spent a ton of money on advertising that we have increased our delivery area, I needed to know I had enough staff to make it happen.
So, I made him an offer. I’ve seen it called the “Golden Handcuffs incentive”

There was a Toyota Corolla he was looking at, but could not afford. I offered to purchase the car for him, he titles, insures, maintains & drives this car as his own, he stays on with us for 6 months, and after that short term, it is his car free & clear. But! if He leaves before 6 months, we retain the car. All was agreed upon by all parties involved.
Then in the last week, he has had a bug up his butt about something, he refuses to talk about what is bothering him, he has a piss-poor attitude towards his fellow employees, he’s moving slower than a toad at closing time so myself and other staff are now handling his responsibilities on top of our own. He is missing items on delivery tickets, not paying attention to unique driving instructions if they happen to exist, taking double the time on delivery runs than they should take, etc etc etc.
He figured that if he takes a long time doing his job, others will jump in and do it for him so he won’t need to do it. (he actually told this to another staff member)
So last saturday night, I have a customer calling asking where his order is, I check the dispatch screen and tell him I will call right back with an ETA, and an explanation. This is a customer who places a large, big-money order at least once every 2 weeks for the last year.
My driver had 2 orders on this particular run, and it was explained that this customer was to be done first due to him being closer, and enroute to the other order on that run. He comes back with this customers order in hand 45 fricken minutes later saying he couldn’t find the guys house.
I calmly point out that he has already been there multiple times, the POS has mapping to use, he has a smartphone, and a GPS in his car, then asked why none of these tools provided to him were not used.
I call the customer, we remake his order, I put a 50% discount on the order and throw in a gift card for $20.00 on top of it all.
My head cashier finds the order delivery bag laying on the floor with the food still in it, and a note that says “I Quit”
he was averaging over $13/hour with a guaranteed 2 days off in a row each week, well above any other employment options in this area for someone without a medical degree.

It has been my experience if I have to sweeten the pot to get someone to come back I loose every time. When e former employee comes back on their own it is usually ok.

Our market has a ton of seasonal jobs. Any presentable employee with a pulse can get 2-3 jobs in day or two when the season starts. We have former employees come back all the time. Some because they do other kinds of work in the Summer and come back to us in the Winter. Others because they are between jobs again and looking and we happen to be hiring. We will only hire back employees that left on good terms. We do not offer incentives to come back but we certainly will reach out to former employees if we are looking and we happen to know they might be job hunting.

The only similar “golden handcuff” for us is the season ski pass. Our chamber has a program in coordination with the ski resort that member businesses can buy season passes (no discount) with two key characteristics: 1. The pass is owned by the business and can be transferred. 2. There is a delayed payment that makes it possible to set up a payment plan for employees. A pass costs ~$1000. Our managers get a pass from us that we pay for some or all of depending on how long they have worked for us. They loose it if they leave. It has happened just one time in 16 years. Our drivers and cooks can buy a pass. They pay $500 down and then $75 per pay period until the pass is paid off. If they leave without notice or are fired for cause they loose the pass and everything they have paid for it. If they leave with fair notice they keep the pass as long as they pay it off.

Since most of the “kids” that are around here are here to ski/board having that pass is key and pretty much no other employers will have a pass mid-season to replace ours if they loose it we have never had to confiscate a pass. We have had a couple of employees get injured and want to give up the pass and the payments due. When that happens we find another employee that wants a deal on a pass for the rest of the season.

But, since only about 1/3 of our employees have a pass from us (others, especially part timers often have passes from other jobs) that ski pass is not the be all end all for keeping staff. In the end it comes down to treating all staff with respect, paying market or slightly better than market wages and working to ensure that we have a happy workplace.

I like the season pass plan, Great idea!

We like to try to get everyone into a higher paying position with more responsibilities here, this particular guy had zero interest in moving up or even laterally, or learning any new skills. He told me straight out that he is content staying in the back of the house without any added responsibilities.
Having a few people here that went to high school with him, they explained that he was the same way through school.

Oh Well, I have a possible new hire who wants the vacant position, and he would like to work his way into the kitchen. I have him coming in this evening with his availability schedule.
My goal is to get a “quality oriented” staff in here so I may get that rare chance to say “Alright, do you guys got this without me?” and be able to sneak out of here a little early once in a while as opposed to always being the first guy in, and last person out the door.

I heard from a previous employer of this person today, and apparently this employee was told by him that “He must have a serious medical issue or a chemical imbalance for him to be so pissed off all the time about such minor things” And that he seemed to always be looking for a fight or a confrontation,

Oh, well, got a new guy in who is doing great, I’m not used to someone always smiling and looking for side projects to do, I could really like this new attitude

I have found that when you have to beg a former employee to come back it never works out good. You typically wont get that hard working employee that you once had back. Been there and done that and it has ended badly with the employee just having to leave because they have now become a cancer to the rest of the crew. We too have a hard time retaining employees. This generation of kids are entitled and they just dont understand hard work they like the idea of a paycheck but not the work that comes with it. I dont really think that there is a secret to it. Some areas just have better work pools than others. I have come to the realization though that it might be better to employ the older guy that has bills to pay as opposed to the young guys that want money to have fun with cause their parents still support them as well. I have a driver that is leaving he has been with me for over a year now one of my best guys. Hes taking a job with AAA because he wants to work 12hr shifts and earn over time and work less days a week. I cant and wont do this. He is leaving on good terms gave me plenty of notice and I too offered him his position if he wants to come back if it doesnt work out over there. But I will not beg him to stay nor will I call him back if I find out that it didnt work out.

We were not a begging him to come back, It was a “You’re welcome to come back if things do not work out at the new place” offer when he left.
he has always done a great job here his first time around, we all worked well together,
But, His attitude and his work ethic did a complete 180 degree flip over that 6-8 week absence period. Apparently it was not just while he was here either, he has ended up alienating many of his friends due to this poor attitude. It almost makes me wonder if he suffered a concussion because it was so out of character for what I have seen from him

The car “Carrot on a stick” was to try to help him out, But to also make sure that I had a driver locked in before doing a buttload of advertising that we now deliver to a wider area,
So, it looks like I now have a “Company Car” , that will be wrapped in some obnoxious manner, and with a topper so big on it that I expect at least a 25% loss in MPG due to the drag coefficient of this thing.