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How to Retain Employees at Minimum Salary

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As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted across the country, more shops and restaurants are hiring employees again. Most of these jobs pay minimum wage or low wage. Now more than ever, employers want to know how to keep minimum wage employees.

Recently, a member asked me, "How do you keep minimum wage employees and keep them from job hopping?" This question made me think of my first job. Even though I was earning minimum wage, I didn't mind because I enjoyed going to work every day.

The environment was fun, stress-free, there was free food, and my manager always had a positive attitude. I still remember my manager saying to everyone after every shift, "Thank you for everything you do," instead of saying "Goodbye." That was sincere and made me feel appreciated. We also celebrated each other's birthdays and work life milestones with cakes, balloons and personalised gifts. These little things helped set the manager apart from others, strengthened staff loyalty, bonded them to the company and contributed to a family-like company culture.

Although an employer cannot stop employees from looking for a new job, here are some top ways to retain low-wage employees:

Employee Recognition Programme. It's no surprise that employees want to feel that their efforts are recognised and that the work they do is valuable.  Simply saying "thank you" is an effective, non-financial way to motivate employees. Try to be specific for greater effect, for example: "Thanks for the help with the new scheduling system. The team really appreciates the training and tips you gave." Also, don't wait too long to say thank you. The longer you take to do so, the less sincere it will be. An effective recognition programme can elevate a company and set it apart from others.

Flexibility and benefits. Flexibility and benefits are also important for minimum wage earners. If your company can offer a competitive benefits package, you will be one step ahead of the competition. Benefits like 401(k) and health and dental insurance are always in demand. Also, a healthy work-life balance is important for job satisfaction, and employees need to know that their managers understand they have a life outside of work. Encourage your employees to take their leave.

Career training. Employees at every level value career development. This is more important than ever for low-income earners when financial incentives are scarce. A manager can ensure that internal jobs are advertised and that there are equal opportunities for advancement for everyone. For example, they can publicise success stories, such as those of employees who started as entry-level workers and worked their way up to a higher-paid position.  Employees want to be sure they have the opportunity to grow their skills through on-the-job mentoring and training opportunities. Develop training and development initiatives if you want to be able to attract and retain the most ambitious young professionals.

Positive environment. One of the most effective things an employer can do is create a positive environment for all employees. In such an environment, employees are more likely to feel motivated and engaged, have higher job satisfaction and feel less stress at work. A positive office environment can also increase the productivity of your employees and reduce the likelihood that you will have to deal with frequent absenteeism. Make it fun too! Some companies organise outdoor softball games, kickball teams and cinema events.

You've probably heard the saying "money isn't everything". At my first job, I wasn't paid much, but it made a lasting impression on me how the company valued me and my co-workers. A big part of employee retention is creating a company culture that fosters appreciation. You can do this by showing that you care, offering incentives, providing some free food on special occasions and simply saying THANK YOU!

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