We are in the midst of what some are calling the Great Resignation. People are quitting their jobs, not looking for new ones (or looking without a sense of urgency), and the future labor pool is bowing out from college or taking gap years to weigh their options. Our colleagues in the baking industry know all too well the difficulty in finding quality candidates, but at Hanan, our focus has always been on retaining personnel.

In our 75 years in business, we’ve seen major shifts in employee needs and wants. Historically, salary and health benefits were the top drivers for candidates’ employer selection. Now, factors such as flexible work schedules, company culture, and having a voice rank top employees’ wish lists. We are proud to report that in 2021, we have retained 100 percent of our team and recently made some new hires. Since we cannot leave employee retention to chance, here are a few ways to safeguard it.

Lead by letting go

Letting go can mean encouraging proactivity and innovation, and demonstrating trust. When employees know they can take risks and make mistakes without fear of embarrassment or, worse yet, penalty, they’re happier and more loyal to their employers. When they have guidance – without micromanagement – they’re more likely to care about the workplace and the company. They are also more apt to share ideas that can impact business for the better.

Create an authentic culture

The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime; that’s one-third of their life! Building a positive environment, where staff can grow, express themselves, and be themselves impacts the employee experience – and retention. At Hanan, we have zero tolerance for politics, pettiness, or mediocrity. Our team thrives on productivity, caring about their fellow worker, and fairness.

Owners and managers must set a standard for collegiality and respect, rewarding people for their attitudes and ideas as well as achieving more traditional goals. Team members do not want to be looked at as your employees; rather, they want to be seen as people who have their own ideas, opinions, and preferences. Cultivating this environment has enabled our company to retain large numbers of employees for years, often decades. And, long tenured employees help orient newer ones, which enhances our company’s culture.

Reward people with technology, don’t replace them with it

At Hanan, we literally let technology do the “heavy lifting.”

We utilize robotics and high-speed packers to supplement the workforce – not replace people. This permits team members to perform higher-level tasks, ones they enjoy and are challenged by. Our team appreciates the investment we make because it’s not just an investment in technology, it’s an investment in them. One example is that it can be very time consuming to create orders every day, so we implemented a Cloud Based Order Management system that lets someone do it from home, which is a huge benefit. We also “hired” a larger-than-life robotic arm that loads heavy boxes onto pallets. It replaces the great work of a retiree who did this job for many years. He was so well liked that his team named the machinery “Hugo” after him. Hugo now frees employees up to do other jobs they prefer.

Replace hiring with retention

If implemented consistently, these three practices can boost and help you retain the best employees. We all know that it is far more costly and time consuming to hire a new employee than it is to retain one. At Hanan, we’re grateful to our team members, who really are an extension of our family.