Did you know that the average cost of replacing a minimum wage employee is US$3,500? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, customer service and hospitality are two of the top industries where turnover is highest. For a business to thrive in today’s economy, finding and retaining the best employees is imperative to be successful.
There can be several factors that determine why someone decides to leave a company or to stop working for your venue. As venue managers, we want to cut down on these factors and keep our best employees as they continue to grow and develop year after year, season after season. Having to replace staff every season can be extremely costly and an ineffective way to run a venue. Some of the costs to consider when replacing staff members are advertising, interviewing, screening, and hiring costs—as well as you and your co-managers’ time and money, loss of productivity, errors made by new team members, the time associated with the inevitable learning curve, and the cultural impact it has on the rest of the team. So we have to ask ourselves, does your company or venue track the cost of employee turnover? How do you know if you’re losing money, or if you are doing well in terms of retention? What are things we can do to measure this?
Here are a few tips to determine your profit or loss when it comes to retaining your invaluable team:
- Start by tracking retention rates, costs of advertising, interviewing, training, etc.
- Research retention strategies and find one that will work for your venue—there is not a one-size-fits-all solution
- Get feedback from existing team members
- Implement benefits or rewards and recognition programs
- Conduct exit interviews
Analyzing these factors can help you determine what you need to change or what you should keep the same in order to create the ultimate fan experience for your guests.
Two of the most important things venue managers should be implementing immediately if they aren’t already are ensuring they are hiring the right people and rewarding current committed employees. So how do we make sure we are hiring the right people and making sure they are loyal to our organizations? Some items to consider are compensation, job fit, and work environment. Believe it or not, compensation tends to be the least important factor of the three when it comes to retaining employees. While paying your team too little can have a negative impact, it’s determined that the job fit and work environment are stronger factors when it comes to retention.
Being completely transparent and honest during the recruiting and hiring process is essential to ensure team members have clear expectations and can find the right job that is fit for their demands as an employee of your company. The job description and interview is not the time to embellish the glory of working in the end zones or upper deck levels—as we all know these can be the toughest locations in a venue to work where guests feel they can get away with a little more.
When it comes to developing a work environment, your team members need to feel their skills are being utilized properly, and if so, they will feel appreciated. Then, they need to be recognized and rewarded when they are carrying out your venues’ missions and creating the guest experience we, as venue managers strive for.
The next step is looking at what types of recognition programs we can execute and figuring out when to reward our team members. Since cost is so commonly an issue when it comes to executing these programs, we as venue managers need to be creative in coming up with different items we can offer our staff while still staying within the means of our budget.
At Ralph Wilson Stadium, we have several different reward and recognition programs in place. The rewards vary depending on the value we have placed on them. For example, some of the reward programs we offer are small, on-the-spot recognitions, while others are more involved and can include tickets to a game. We place the highest value on creating a memorable guest experience and ensure that our rewards and recognition align with our mission. Some of our most popular programs are our Service Coin award, Touchdown Challenge, Guest Recognition Reward, Player of the Game, and Years of Service Reward.
The Service Coin is a specially designed coin the size of a half dollar distributed to all of our game-day supervisors who reward team members for on-the-spot recognition when they are seen going above and beyond with our guests.
The Touchdown Challenge is a year-long contest we designed to raise our average mystery shop scores. Each game, the Overall Experience is calculated and the football marker moves up the “field” in hopes to score a Touchdown. The challenges are designed so that team members need to work together to achieve the goal. At the end of the season, if our team members “score a touchdown” they are rewarded with gift cards.
Anytime a guest writes, calls, or emails into their ticket office representative or to our venue managers directly, complimenting the service they got from one of our game-day team members we reward them with an autographed mini-helmet from our yearly stock of inventory.
Our Player of the Game and Years of Service awards are our two biggest awards. After each game, every game-day supervisor nominates a Player of the Game. The venue managers then select one Player from each of our seven partners, and the winners are rewarded with two game-day tickets to the following game, on-field recognition, video board recognition, a $50 food voucher, an autographed mini helmet, and pay for their days work. Since this is the fourth season we have implemented this reward, our staff gets really excited and continually strives to go above and beyond to get recognized by their supervisors. Finally is our Years of Service award. Each year, we recognize team members who have completed 10, 20, 30 and 40 years of service. Team Members that have completed 10 seasons with the Buffalo Bills receive a player plaque, 20 receive a personalized football, 30 receive a Buffalo Bills watch, and team members that have completed 40 seasons with the team receive a personalized Buffalo Bills authentic jersey, two game tickets, and participation in welcoming the players onto the field in Stampede Row.
We also raffle off prizes for participation in a weekly “online training” session that contains a short PowerPoint and quiz to keep team members informed of changing policies or remind them of existing policies throughout the season. Additionally, we reward gift cards for receiving a 100 percent on a mystery shop and celebrate a successful season by holding an annual Team Member Appreciation Party.
Regardless of the time and effort we put in each year to improve our hiring process and add more reward and recognition programs, we still find ourselves struggling to staff the whole building come mid-season. Again, the factors of absenteeism can vary: the weather, team performance, and other elements can all influence why the call-offs increase halfway through the season. But, we continue to strive to improve all the things that go into making our staff happy, because making your employees happy will ultimately make your customers happy.
(Image: Idibri/Creative Commons)