Secrets of a Turnaround Specialist Retaining Minimum Wage Employees

You want the division to make more money. But, sales are declining, profits have disappeared, morale is low and turnover is the only thing going up.

 I recently worked with a client who had a facility that was only partially utilized. The company had a contract to produce product for the Federal Government and was only producing about 2/3 of the amount due to internal issues. The problem was identified by the client as being the unavailability of a willing and capable local workforce. Outside of a core group of very capable and reliable employees, the company has been unable to hire and retain enough employees to produce the required product that management would like to manufacture at this location. It had been concluded that the local population would rather live off welfare or even do nothing than work. Efforts to recruit and train employees had failed. After a short period of time these employees stop showing up to work. These efforts cost the company both time and money.

 I met with the Plant Manager to understand why the division was having problems attracting and retaining employees. I also evaluated their overall operation to determine if there were any opportunities for increasing productivity.

 It turned out that the owners were the problem. By treating new hires as lazy, stupid and most likely on drugs and then treating them with no respect they created a hostile environment that no one wanted to be in. The employees who had been there for some time stayed as they had nowhere else to go to earn the same compensation with their skills, but the new hires would leave as soon as they could.

 With much hesitation I convinced the Plant Manager to start treating all people including new hires with respect. We profiled the typical hire and then asked the staff what they would want in addition to salary at a place of employment.  Once we got started implementing these changes, things like group lunches, seating people in clusters so they could chat, improving the kitchen and lunchroom, the rumors slowly changed to excited whispers as the changes started becoming recognized as the norm. What kind of changes? In every case, the changes came from within the organization from the people already there.

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