McCadden: Give Your Employees Reasons to Stay

by Kyle Clapham

Of all the investments a business must make if it plans to grow and stand the test of time, funds allocated for employee advancement and retention are essential. Investments in employees must be done with a clear purpose and a clear strategy.

Otherwise, the money invested can be lost as employees leave for other opportunities. Without a clear purpose and strategy, your investments will leave with those employees and be deposited with the new employer, which could be a competitor.

Advancing the skills and knowledge of current employees should include not just the immediate skills needed today but also the technical knowledge and mentored experience the business will need as new roles become required as your business grows.

Although businesses can opt to replace employees who lack the new skills needed, that option doesn’t really fall within the true spirit of building a sustainable business, in my opinion. I ask you to think of it like throwing used-up employees into the dumpster because they have outlasted their usefulness.

A much better option, for the business as well as for its employees, is to plan to strategically repurpose the employee, so they are ready for new roles and responsibilities well in advance of planned growth.

Pick Employees Worth Investing In

First, the business must be sure it is investing in the right employees. For example, the part-time office assistant answering the phone might be great on the phone and with helping customers, but if they are not well-organized and good at working with numbers, they might not be a candidate for the new part-time data entry position needed to support the bookkeeper.

Most remodeling business owners go from the field to business ownership with an obvious lack of management training and experience. Few were ever exposed to the art of recruiting, hiring and managing employees. If I am describing you and your business, I ask you to consciously decide if you want to learn through trial and error, or if you will seek out and work with someone who can assist you for your initial hires but also train and mentor you with industry-best practices.

Some of those best practices might include any one or more of the following strategies and tactics. Writing job descriptions and role profiles to identify whom you are looking for before you start your search. Developing interview questions to assess not just trade skills but other important things such as people skills, management skills, how they deal with conflict, what their career goals are, if they have already shown a history of proactive career advancement, and even why they left their last job.

A consultant we worked with introduced us to using assessment profiles to help evaluate attitudes, behaviors, math skills, integrity, willingness to follow a system, and even cognitive abilities. If you write a profile to describe whom and what you are looking for, there likely already exists an assessment profile that you can use to help determine fit.

Using profiles, however, is not magic and can be subjective. As the consultant I worked with shared with me, and I found to be very true: Using profiles won’t necessarily tell you whom to hire, but they will surely help you figure out whom not to hire.

Attract and Keep the Good Ones

If you bring good employees onto your team and have invested a lot of money, time and resources training them, it’s wise to also have a plan for how you will entice them to stay with your business. Money is only one factor in making this happen. If you risk using money as the only factor, remember, if they came to your business for money, they will also leave your business for money. So, in addition to money, your business must offer other compelling reasons to stay.

You plan to hire a carpenter who shows the willingness, cognitive abilities and people skills needed to become a true lead carpenter capable of managing multiple jobs, customers, subs and subordinate employees. You can find profiles that help assess these traits.

To help limit the risk of that employee leaving, why not seek out a recently married individual who already has children and would someday like to own a home? If you had a written career path with performance milestones and related pay-rates for when those milestones are successfully reached, the right candidate can see how your business can help them earn more money and achieve their future goals.

If you offer benefits such as paid time-off and fully paid family health insurance, things typically uncommon in the remodeling industry, you will attract more qualified candidates. If they can get those things from your business, but your competition doesn’t offer them, then why would they leave?

Think of It Like You’re Picking a Significant Other

When you’re just dating, it makes sense to find a partner you can spend time with, enjoy each other’s company and have some fun, without worrying about whether they are someone you would marry. However, once you decide you would like to get married, dating serves a new and different role.

So, if the person you are dating isn’t showing signs that they would make a good life-long partner, why waste time by continuing to date them? Life is short; move on. The same should hold true for employees.

If any of the ones you have are not the right ones for your business in the long term, let them go. Find better options. The longer you keep the wrong employees, the longer it will be before you will have the sustainable business you have been dreaming about. QR

Shawn McCadden is a speaker, business trainer, columnist and award-winning remodeler with more than 35 years of experience. He can be reached at

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