OPINION: How to retain and incentivise your staff in a challenging labour market – Jeet Bansi

Make sure the working environment is one in which you’d want to work yourself

Jeet Bansi Londis

The staffing issue is very important in the current climate and retaining staff is definitely something that we’re looking into at the moment.

Finding staff who are good and can fit seamlessly into our business model is very difficult, so rather than repeating that process and trying to find people all the time, it’s better to nurture the people you’ve already got. They’ve been with the business, they know the ins and outs of it, they know the customers and they know you.

I have customers who don’t shop elsewhere because the staff are too young and inexperienced, and don’t know where to find things. We have a mix of employees, and having staff members who are experienced and senior means they can help other colleagues to deal with customer queries. It’s also good for the customers to see that level of authority on the shop floor. It goes a long way.

How to set targets and monitor the performance of your staff

So, how do you incentivise the staff? Through working conditions and money. Reward and remuneration is essential to retaining staff, especially good members of staff with experience. When we found out that the minimum wage rise was coming in, we started putting the wages up a bit in December, then again in January and again in February. That means that it won’t be such a big hike for us when it kicks in in April.

In any case, we’ve always tried to pay at least 10p more than the lowest of what people can be paid to keep ourselves above that threshold. We start people on a certain amount and then tell them that they need to prove to us that they can deliver the job and are worth what they want to be paid before we up the salary.

In terms of working conditions, you should make sure the environment is one in which you’d want to work if you were at their level. We try to treat people fairly, honestly and with integrity. Delegate small responsibilities to not-so-senior members so they feel they have a part to play. Delegate more to people who you pay more. You can’t make it perfect, but you can do your best to create an environment where your team can strive to be their best.

Most of my peers would agree that your staff are what you make them. But you need to recognise how far a staff member will be willing to go. Are they working with love for the business or just payday to payday? You need people who want to be there because things change hour to hour, minute to minute.

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