We’ve all been there, and many of us are there right now. It’s tough to find, hire, and retain good employees. Especially now, it’s important to shift your focus from just hiring anyone who can scoop poop (and might stay with you for only a few weeks) to someone who can do much more—if and when they are given the opportunity to do so. You’ll want to hire individuals who have skills and a personality that set them up for success in your business, like those who are positive, friendly, eager to learn, coachable, interested in advancement, and fit your team culture.
You may want to take a look at your pay structure. Do you have a flat starting pay rate or do you offer a range based on certain qualifications, experience, or certifications? If you specify your pay rates on your job listings, do you think that is deterring applicants? Some businesses in the pet care industry have received many more applications if they list their pay rates close to $15/hour. You may see a dramatic change in both the quantity AND quality of your applicants if you increase your pay rates, but keep in mind how increasing the pay for new hires will affect the pay for the rest of your existing team members.
Do you offer incentives or bonuses for your employees when they complete your business’s training and their Dog Handler Academy courses? We suggest following a plan to truly incentivize training for your employees, such as a specific bonus for completing each Dog Handler Academy course and first aid/CPR training or other training components from your facility. You may wonder, WHY incentivize your employees’ training? They need to know that you’re willing to invest IN THEM. That is what training is! It’s an investment in the employee. By giving your employees a bonus on top of their pay, you’re telling them, “You’re worth it to me because you want to expand your knowledge and education to be a team player.” It creates buy-in to the learning experience.
Meeting with staff individually on a frequent, regular basis also helps them feel more involved and more invested. Doing monthly or quarterly check-ins for 10–15 minutes is a great way to build your team and stay on top of any issues. Most employees want to feel heard, so meeting more often versus once a year helps fulfill that need. These don’t need to be formal meetings—you could call them Monday check-ins and schedule individuals for a 15-minute time slot before or after a normal shift or a check-in day where each person gets pulled aside during their shift to chat with you. You then document these discussions in the employee’s file and use that as a way to track any issues and/or improvements.