We have all seen the sign that says "The floggings will continue until morale improves." Apparently Amazon still works under that philosophy (Read this article about the shocking conditions at an Amazon warehouse).
And Amazon also has extremely high staff turnover. As do most companies that treat their employees like cogs in a machine instead of like people.
Yet employee turnover is one of the most costly mistakes you can make. It takes time and money to train an employee. It takes experience for them to become great. You cannot afford to be training someone new every few months.
So the first step is to make great decisions on who you hire. I've clearly outlined how to do that in my book, Hiring and the Potter's Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art.
The second step involves motivation.
Daniel H. Pink, in his book Drive, talks about how people are motivated. The old carrot and stick method - do this and you'll get a reward - doesn't work any more. People want more than that.
The two most important things that motivate workers is to know that the work they are doing is valued and that it is making a difference.
You can show that to your staff easily by doing these simple things.
- Constantly praise them for what they do right. We love to hear what we did right more than hearing what we did wrong. Sure, you need to correct the mistakes, but heap the praise for what they do right and they will do more of that.
- Invest in their training. You show them they are valued when you constantly help them to grow and improve.
- Teach them why. With every step of the training, with every task you ask them to do, if they can see the bigger picture of how this project fits into everything else, they will be more motivated to do the project well.
- Have goals bigger than yourself. Align your store values with something that helps your community, whether a charitable cause or a general improvement of the quality of life and your staff will be motivated to work harder.
I have 15 year-round employees. They have an average of over 10 years employment with me. They know the difference we make in the community. They know the importance of even the simplest tasks. They know when they have done a good job. And they know the next Staff Meeting will be fun, informative, and worth their while.
PS One more thing... If you make your employees get up at 3am Black Friday or the day after Christmas to work for you, you get what you deserve. They are people. They have families and lives. Let them enjoy as much of the holidays as they can.