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Dealing with Laundry Labor Demands (Conclusion)

“Like many laundries, I’m still dealing with labor shortages and demands for higher wages. What suggestions do you have for finding and retaining employees?”

Healthcare Laundry: William Muse, United Hospital Services, Indianapolis, Ind.

Labor availability and pricing is a hot topic in today’s working environment. That said, as a laundry and linen provider, we don’t work in an attractive industry and as such we must constantly think of ways to attract new talent while retaining the talent we already have.

Across all industries and jobs, we are seeing an increase in pay rates that breaks the delicate balance of pay across industries and job functions.

That said, one task that most companies should be undertaking if they haven’t already is a job analysis or job study to identify what you are asking of your employees while comparing the duties of said job to comparative jobs in the area.

This can help you identify if there truly is a pay gap that is making your recruitment more difficult.

Most companies will complete these every couple of years, but with the rate at which the labor market and pay rates are changing, I would recommend doing this as often as every six-12 months or as needed.

When looking at ways to retain existing talent, allow your employees to have a voice and an opinion, offer them opportunities for growth, treat your employees with respect and appreciate their contributions to your overall success.

Without your employees, you would likely have a hard time completing the work necessary to satisfy your customers!

Consulting Services: Jon Witschy, Spindle, Woodridge, Ill.

This is a question every employer is facing. It’s obvious that recent government programs have affected our labor pool, but regardless, our industry has always fought against other job opportunities for potential and current employees. 

If it is possible to raise wages, there’s your “silver bullet.” Otherwise, the following are some strategies that might help.

Regarding finding employees, one of the best ways that my customers have recommended is internal referral programs. Provide a benefit to your employees for bringing family and friends on board. 

Your employees can best describe their work environment and can probably identify people who will be able to keep up with the pace of working in a laundry, which should increase your success rate with new employees. 

An interesting point that I recently read about internal referral programs is the suggestion to increase the compensation for delivering a successful hire. Recruiters can receive up to 40% or more for supplying executive candidates. 

An increase from a few hundred dollars to a larger percentage of the wage for a production position could improve the quality of referrals, and it might encourage employees to help you work on retention—the referrer won’t want to lose the “refer-ee” and miss out on their payday. 

Of course, certain terms must be met for the referral bonus (e.g., new hires must meet attendance requirements, remain employed for a minimum period, achieve productivity targets, etc.). The time spent on developing a program and training staff could have a significant return on investment.

To retain employees, one of the best practices that we recommend to our customers is to provide productivity incentives. Do a good job, get a bonus, enjoy your work and improve your life, keep doing a good job—it’s a self-sustaining cycle. 

Health benefits and other perks are often highlighted as a difference between other jobs and our laundry positions, but the dollars themselves often speak louder. Just as with the referrals above, there must be minimum requirements to get a bonus (an employee must be on time and have good attendance) if not (regardless of how well they work when they are on the job), an incentive bonus won’t payout. 

It goes without saying that a good work environment is key for all of this to be successful and to keep people happy and coming back to the job each day.

Coming full circle, incentive plans might also help in recruiting. A customer recently mentioned to me that they changed their tactic from “Earn $X per hour” to “Earn up to $X+ per hour” after seeing a similar sign in a convenience store window. He spoke with the clerk, who explained that he could be happy with the base pay, or he could agree to work nights and weekends or do other “grunt work” to get the higher wage. 

An incentive and/or night, weekend and tougher jobs should be presented as options for candidates to make more money.

I wish you luck in the battle for employees. I’m sure we all see “Help Wanted” signs everywhere we go these days, so we know that competition is out there. 

Creating the right plan to recruit and retain staff will put you in a position to bring in candidates and to run as profitably as you can.

Equipment/Supply Distribution: Armand Lemieux, STN Laundry Systems LLC, Hamden, Conn.

Hiring and retaining quality employees is a crucial facet of running a successful company.

Whether it is a small “mom and pop” operation or a large corporation, knowledgeable and dependable employees really are the heartbeat. Each person is a piece of the puzzle that creates the culture of a company.

I have been in a position to search for, hire and retain employees for over 15 years and have seen both the great as well as the ugly. I have learned countless lessons in that time.

Job recruiting websites can be a good place to start; however, the initial high volume of applicants will dwindle as the hiring process moves forward. E-mails, phone calls, scheduling and conducting interviews, all these things require valuable time and will lead to frustration when candidates don’t respect that.

Hiring a placeholder for an open position is often the easy and quick response; however, it’s hardly ever a long-term solution and often increases difficulties for us in the long run.

How do we find candidates? My preference is word of mouth. I let everyone I know—current employees, friends and even family—what position we need to fill and exactly what we are looking for.

Networking with other business owners has also been one of the best avenues for quality hires. What may not be a right fit for somebody else may be the perfect fit for you.

Sometimes, I will contact local colleges to find new graduates. Another good resource is our chamber of commerce, which we have been active in for years. Surprisingly, it is quite often that someone knows someone who would be a great candidate.

At our company, STN Laundry Systems, we are continually looking for quality people to join our team and become part of our family. If the right person is available, then there is always a role they can excel in.

Once the right employee has been selected, the next challenge is retaining them, which is especially crucial in roles that require high levels of training. Getting employees to make long-term commitments can be achieved by striking a balance between our needs and theirs. A reasonable salary, paid time off and benefits are requirements for most people today.

Employees know what they’re worth and what their salary should be for their position. Keep it simple and make it standard for everyone on your team.

Beyond fulfilling basic needs, another key factor in employee retention is the opportunity for advancement and long-term growth throughout your company. A clear, comprehensive plan needs to be laid out early upon hiring and kept track of on a regular basis with the employee.

Quality employees will not remain underpaid at a dead-end job; they will constantly move on until they find an occupation that gives them a sense of accomplishment, as well as being part of a team.

As employers, we have the responsibility to our employees to have purpose and fulfillment in their jobs.

Miss Part 1 with suggestions from long-term care laundry, equipment manufacturing, chemicals supply and commercial laundry experts? Click HERE to read it!

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].