Commercial Laundry: Brian Polatsek, EcoBrite Linen, Skokie, Ill.
For every business owner or manager, there comes a point where you may feel like you have reached your ceiling on wages and cannot sustain higher wage rates. This can is particularly challenging for our industry. Commercial laundries often have large workforces and rely heavily on manual labor.
However, it’s important to look at other opportunities to be able to keep and attract new employees.
At EcoBrite Linen, we have faced these challenges head-on and have found success in two key areas: benefits and culture. We have invested in our employees’ well-being and created a workplace culture that values and recognizes their contributions.
Benefits. One way we have been able to attract and retain employees is by offering comprehensive benefits packages. This includes healthcare, paid time off (PTO), and matching 401k contributions. By providing these benefits, we are showing our employees that we value their well-being and want to invest in their future.
Healthcare can be a particularly important benefit for employees in the commercial laundry industry, as it often involves physical labor that can lead to injuries. By providing healthcare, we are helping our employees take care of themselves and their families.
PTO is also a valuable benefit, as it allows employees to take time off for personal and family needs without sacrificing their paychecks. Matching 401k contributions are another way we show our employees that we are invested in their long-term financial success.
Culture. Another way we have been able to retain employees is by creating a positive workplace culture. This includes employee recognition, lunches, parties and creating an overall fun workplace.
We believe that employees who feel valued and recognized are more likely to stay with the company long-term.
Employee recognition can come in many forms, such as employee of the month awards, bonuses for good performance or even just a simple thank-you note. We also hold employee appreciation events, such as lunches and parties, to show our employees that we value their contributions and want to celebrate their successes.
Creating a fun workplace can also help to reduce employee turnover. We have found that employees who enjoy coming to work are more likely to stay with the company long-term. This can be achieved through simple things like playing music, decorating the break room or having occasional team-building activities.
One anecdotal story that highlights the importance of a positive workplace culture comes to mind. We had an employee who had been with us for several years and was a reliable and hardworking member of our team. However, she left for a job that offered a dollar more per hour.
Within a month, she returned to our company, citing that the new job was not what she had expected. Despite the higher pay rate, she found the workplace culture to be toxic and management to be unsupportive.
She missed the positive and uplifting atmosphere that we had created at our company and realized that it was worth more to her than a dollar increase.
This story illustrates that wages are not the only factor that determines employee satisfaction and retention. A positive workplace culture, recognition and employee engagement are equally important.
We believe that investing in our employees’ well-being and creating a fun and supportive workplace is key to attracting and retaining top talent in the commercial laundry industry.
In conclusion, dealing with rising wages can be a challenge for commercial laundries, but it’s important to look at other opportunities to attract and retain employees.
By investing in comprehensive benefits packages and creating a positive workplace culture, businesses can show their employees that they value their contributions and want to invest in their future.
Equipment/Supply Distribution: Ross Sanders, Streamline Solutions, Orlando, Fla.
This is a bit of a difficult question to answer for someone who does not own a laundry as the compensation for a sales company is certainly going to be much different than what is being done at a laundry.
But even with that being the case, everyone is struggling in hiring and then keeping employees happy financially. For our company, we have been very lucky in being able to not only hire but keep new employees and sales representatives.
The need to be creative is certainly a need in today’s world.
For us, we have been able to entice people to come on board knowing that they will have the opportunity to get involved in many additional projects and jobs that will not only help them to use their minds but also allow them to gain additional income opportunities when that new project is successful or if they can move into a new higher paid position soon afterward.
Streamline Solutions has allowed our people to use their skills to help the company grow, which, in turn, means that they are rewarded financially because of the great job they did along with being able to earn extra money when that translates into more sales for the company.
In other words, a bonus would be paid as we always feel, whether veterans of our company or new hires, that it is important to “share the wealth” with the entire team when we are successful.
We have found that doing things like this allows us to compensate our workers fairly even if it may be initially tougher to pay some of the higher wages that our competition may be offering.
It also helps to keep everyone on the same “team” mentality no matter what job they may be doing for the company.
Textile/Uniform Rental: W. Kirby Wagg, Performance Matters, Sarasota, Fla.
Over the past year, I have discussed all aspects of the textile rental business with industry leaders from production to sales to route service reps, to management to cost recovery to labor issues (new hires and current roster) with all departments including hourly employees.
Let’s look first at what they have told me about how they are enticing new hires, attracting them, and keeping them engaged in the laundry industry.
“We now pay 100% (from 80%) of healthcare as of mid-last year, and it went over very well.”
“We are giving membership to warehouse stores (Costco, Sam’s), health clubs and tickets to events.”
“We track our production, and it has helped tremendously. Employees are working 30-32 hours per week, but they receive pay for 35 hours if they meet some criteria.”
“We just introduced an additional three vacation days: Christmas Eve and the day after Thanksgiving. Also, a floating holiday that the employee can, at their discretion, use for a special day.”
“In addition to a $13/hour start wage we contribute to retirement, 100% of healthcare, offer overtime, which is every Saturday, and a day or two during the week we run longer.”
“We offer longevity bonuses, vacation days, bereavement bonus and referral bonuses.”
All these benefits are a must in the workplace today, but I believe we must look deeper.
My over 45 years of experience in this industry (many of my employees worked 20-30 years and, yes, over 45 years for me!) has taught me that the key to enticing new hires and achieving remarkable results is by offering your current employees at every level specific kinds of help and encouragement to build trust.
A company can only become the best version of itself if its employees become the best version of themselves. You must have collaboration between management and employees and work together to achieve company objectives and personal dreams.
A favorite quote comes to mind from Walt Disney, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
Supervisors who build trust and an engaging workplace will improve retention more than the above ideas like pay and benefits. Sounds simple, too intangible, but true. If you build trust, the relationship will steadily grow from there.
The best perks are the environment you create. We judge people on how we feel about them versus what they do for us.
Another term is “stay interviews,” during which personal dreams can be revealed and company objectives can collaborate. Schedule a meeting with each employee at least three times a year, listen to them, ask them about their personal goals and help them strive toward them.
Watch how “enticing new hires” will no longer be a challenge for your company as they will flock to your company because your current team members will now be your voice. They will be your recruitment team!
Uniforms/Workwear Manufacturing: Scott Delin, Fashion Seal Healthcare, Seminole, Fla.
Recently, a friend of mine who was paying his staff $18 per hour as a medical scribe lost what he considered a loyal employee to Chick-fil-A.
She left her job to start a new one at Chick-fil-A at a starting rate of $21 an hour to say, “Excuse me, sir, would you like waffle fries with your sandwich?” Hard to believe, $21 per hour from day one.
Help Wanted! Looking for a job, we are Hiring! Need Work? Look No More! These are just a few examples of signage we are now seeing as ways many companies are trying to entice people to come work for us.
This type of direct advertising—job postings in stores, billboard postings, radio ads and media ads (both social and non-social)—is the new warfare being used to attract and find more employees to fill the empty spots in our businesses.
Unfortunately, today’s employee is looking for instant gratification and that big paycheck from their place of employment right out of the gate. The days of starting at a low rate and working yourself up to a higher rate seem to be outdated and no longer acceptable.
Between the national push for raising the minimum wage and an unusually low available workforce, to attract and keep employees many laundries/companies are offering higher than usual starting salaries.
Sad to say, however, if another local company is offering a higher starting hourly wage accompanied by a signing bonus, this employee, plus others previously employed, is gone in a heartbeat.
With the push for those loyal competent employees, many companies are searching or exploring ways to attract staff to keep our businesses running without staffing hiccups.
Having grown up in the cut-and-sew environment and then jumping into the laundry arena, I feel I can honestly say working in these settings is not always as glamorous as it seems. However, with a hard work ethic and proper training, there are many ways for one to excel and be successful while providing a nice life for their family.
As we all know, today’s potential workforce wants to excel faster and at a higher pay scale.
As owners/operators deal with this ongoing labor shortage, we need to look for alternative ways to address this dilemma. What other methods can we use to entice, attract and keep a solid loyal workforce to keep our businesses successful and running smoothly?
Come work for us and receive a signing bonus. In addition to signing bonuses, some laundries are offering referral bonuses. Refer a friend and if they remain employed for a set period, you are awarded a monetary bonus.
Another incentive to attract staff would be to offer an education bonus. Any employee, should they wish to further their education, would be offered that opportunity to do so with a tuition bonus for going back to school to further their education.
Granted, not everyone is looking to climb that corporate ladder, but for those who are, this is a great incentive to offer. Couple this by offering managerial and educational courses—such as Dale Carnegie or other behavioral modification classes on-site for your employees to take advantage of—is another way to attract good staff.
Looking for that next supervisor, manager, sales director or more, why not look within? Making sure we let our employees know that we practice promoting from within for higher-paying positions is another way to attract and maintain a good workforce.
Did someone say food? How about offering your staff on-site meals? If you have the space, maybe set up a cafeteria where you can offer your staff lunch at no charge to them.
Yes, this can be costly, but it also would go a long way in keeping your staff happy about where they work knowing their employer cares about their well-being.
Couple this with a wellness program, you will soon find your staff telling their friends what a great place they work at and could possibly attract new talent.
As the mantra of doing more with less seems to be the norm these days, maybe offer a four-day workweek to those who wish to take advantage of it. Maybe offer the four-day work with two options: Option 1, work four days for 10 hours a day, or Option 2, work 4 days for 12 hours a day and offer overtime for the eight extra hours worked.
Obviously, the five-day workweek remains intact for those who wish to continue working five days per week.
We are faced with many obstacles these days with our younger workforce. Yes, it is challenging, but we do have options to attract and maintain good reliable employees. We just need to think outside the box and get creative.
What used to appeal to us when we first entered the workforce may not apply and be attractive to today’s future employees. They want more, faster.
So, I leave you with this, the next time you go thru Chick-fil-A and asked if you want waffle fries with your chicken sandwich, go for the milkshake. They are awesome!
Click HERE to read Part 1 with ideas from experts in hotel/motel/resort laundry, equipment manufacturing, chemicals supply and consulting services.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].