Introduction: To best understand the plight of an employee in getting hired, working, and deciding to stay on or leave, look back to periods of your own life when you were an employee. As an employer, you are on the other side of the table and for the moments you take to interview, review resumes, and figure you staffing hours, schedules and pay, try to remember how it was and how it was not.
Look at the job from the employees point of view. What does the job require in time, effort, knowledge or skill? Think about how reliable a person will be at getting to work, doing their job and working together as a staff. Ask yourself if this person would be a good worker, what would it take to train and retain them. Sometimes you have to get people with specific skills, but consider people whose skills may not appear to sync with a dog day care, yet whose skill could transfer well with a bit of training. Consider people who might give you more for your dollar but want to work a specific schedule or limited hours.
As an employer, it is good to examine what would make the candidate happy enough to be a long term employee. Ask them. Are they looking to advance if given the chance, are they looking for summer work between school semesters, or are they a retired person who just wants some time out of the house each morning? It's good to get a mix of people who are looking to advance if you see growth in the future of your business, as well as those who just want to stay at the level they were hired at. People have different reasons for working so discover what those are. In addition to that let them know that their work in other industries is important and can more than likely be useful in the dog day care. Don't make it difficult for them to discuss what their strengths were in another job. Their strengths in other jobs can be transferred to strengths in your business.
Most of all, people have to convince you they love dogs and are willing to do what it takes to keep the standards you've set. You've got to make people unafraid to talk to you about issues in the job they are hired to do. If employees are afraid to come to you and ask for different hours, more pay or time off, then you will eventually lose them. People need to know their employee cares about their person needs not just on the job needs.
How to Find the Right Employee: In the beginning, your search for employees, has to include straight talk about the goals you've set for the business, the levels of training employees will be given, and the fact that good employees will be given flexibility, raises, and more responsibilities if it is what they want. You have to make sure they understand that you are willing to work with them if they are reliable, honest, and flexible themselves.
You have to set the stage for the employees and make them see that you want to keep the dialogue open between you. It is not just that you have to approve of the employee, they have to decide if they want to work with you. Some will not. They will not be willing to engage in the general up-keep, or have the willingness to learn new computer programs, or offer a friendly face or work with others. Candidates will want to know about raises and benefits. You need to be clear about these topics of conversation. You have to know what they employees expect and what they need. If the candidate is good enough to hire, try to figure out how to meet their needs through your business. Making changes to keep good help will be a big part of your success
Your employees should have some references that describe their longevity and reliability in a job. If they are right out of high school, that might not be possible. Getting a reference from a teacher at school who can vouch for attendance might be just the verification you need. If you have a good feeling about a candidate go the distance to work with him. You may want to consider a disabled person to hold a job that requires less demands and fits their strengths. Look at retired persons and young adults who just need experience. You could use young adults who are in college or high school and be willing to work around their school schedules. You might find a young adult who wants to apprentice for the chance to learn management skills. Retired adults are often a great wealth of experience and knowledge. They might be a good fit for a friendly receptionist, an employee trainer, or to keep you stock on the shelves in your store area.
The option to look on the social media pages of possible employees is up to you. Many young people do not use good judgement in their high school years and you need to expect that. Young adults who are in college or in their 20's may have the same issues. It is not a proven fact that someone whose personal life goes against your grain will not be a good employee. Kids change and often the seriousness of earning money and keeping a job will be just the kick that settles them down. Mentoring a young adult that you feel good about could work well.
Don't limit your search to people who are experienced with dogs. People who like dogs, yet lack experience, can learn new skills. People who have been in different industries might have a lot to offer that you did not think about. Creative people can help with marketing, your store, your website and other parts of the business that requires that kind of thought. Combining a mundane job with a creative job can offer an employee a chance to be happy to work with you.
Be creative in your job descriptions and allow people to pick and choose what they would be willing to do. You want your workers to be happy, have choices and find their own niche in the world.
How to Keep Good Employees: Retaining employees in a business where there is little possibility to work up in a company is difficult. Often dog day cares are not large enough to offer much in management. However, if you are creative you can put together parts of different jobs that your candidates will find interesting. If you need a janitor in the evening hours and you have a reliable and independent person who could do the job well, but who finds that kind of work dull, then offer to mix the work with being in charge over the in-house store set up and design. Someone who wants to just play with the dogs outside might be willing to also scoop the poop. Don't be rigid. Open your mind. Make sure that your staff or team gets something they can live with and at the same time are willing to do a job that isn't so great. These kinds of employees who are willing and open-minded will keep your company moving forward and will give the employee fulfillment.
Treating employees with respect and on equal terms with everyone else on the staff is another way to give those who sign up to work for you a reason to stay and work hard. Letting your staff meet together and letting them be part of changes, upgrades, new ideas, and increasing profits will increase your own success. Make this happen. No matter what you think, you alone cannot know the best way to go every time. Those who work on the front lines, know. Listen to them. If they know the costs you have, they will work in more cost-saving ways. If they know that when they save you money, you can afford to increase their pay, they will be amazing at their jobs.
You are not only demonstrating respect for your employees by listening to them and giving them your time, you are investing in the team that leads your business. Strong teams can make a company.
Many times a worker will fume and the boss is unaware that he is unhappy. One day he just up and quits. You have to know what your workers are thinking, what they deal with personally and how it affects their work. You have to work to make sure your employees personal lives are going well. It's not that you can fix them, but if you know they are under stress you might be able to in some way relieve their stress at work. Be a boss who listens, is open and can be trusted.
Pay your good employees at the going rate or above. Why should they work for you if they can make more money at the pet store? Know what others pay and stay ahead of it. Help your employees improve their skills and their knowledge. Make sure you are giving them enough to live on. If they have to get a second job, your company will suffer for it. Everything about your employees affects you. Knowing that a worker is dealing with a medical issue, a family issue or financial issues gives you a chance to help them in some way. By helping them you are helping your own company.
To retain your staff, have regular meetings together plus one on one time with frequent reviews to praise them or discuss how you want to change something. If you do this often you will not have bigger issues or problems to fix. Don't think people will just come up to you and talk to you about their job or the work or problems. You have to step up and start the conversation. Take care of your workers and they will take care of you.
There are times you will not retain a great person because they have gone as far as they can go in your company. Unless you are willing to give him more management, expand and put this person in charge, or step away from some of the work yourself, some will find it necessary to move on. You can live with that.
Employee Training: Training an employee has to be done no matter what the job. You can't just trust that somebody will understand how to clean the facility right. You have to write up complete job descriptions that anyone can look at and know exactly what is required. Materials and resources to do the jobs have to be available and in a place that is accessible. You've set standards for your business and your employees must know what you expect. You will teach each one and demonstrate each part of every job. If you don't and an employee is not accomplishing the goals, then you have only yourself to blame.
Make sure each employee knows that you will be monitoring their work as part of their evaluation for raises or bonuses. That way if you feel an employee is shirking, you won't make him uncomfortable watching him work. Carry this out. You have to be part of each job randomly to see that the correct processes are being followed and the worker understands why it is set up as it is. If an employee is doing the job in a different way, simply discuss with him why he thinks it is better and then discuss your way and list the pros and cons. Let the employee be part of that correction if it is needed. Many times an employee will have a better way to accomplish the same task so pay attention.
Teaching your staff how to deal with people who are difficult, in person or on the phone will be significant to the company goals. Discuss the difference between not having that skill and not being willing to use those skills. Training is about how to do their jobs, use supplies, know about the health and safety requirements and what inspectors will be looking for. Teach the workers that the dogs and their owners are what pays the bills so it is important to keep them happy.
Go big when training your staff to be honest, ethical, and trustworthy. This skill will be meaningful to maintaining a company that is based on those aspects. Make sure your workers understand their paychecks, taxes, and benefits. If you do not offer insurance, have someone from the government come in and go over the federal health program to make sure everyone has and can afford insurance.
One of the higher level skills will be using the computer programs properly. Everyone should have the training in case the person at the desk is not there to do it. Training on other new types of technology like live cameras and voice feeds need to have staff that understand how they work. When you train a specific process for accomplishing a task, have good reasons why you set up that process and make sure you've practice your own processes to see if they make sense.
Swimming is not necessarily an innate skill dogs get genetically. At least not all of them. Though dogs will paddle their feet in the water often they are simply trying to stay afloat and is not an indicator that it is swimming. Humans who don't swim do the same thing.
There is a category of dogs that likely does have such a genetic predisposition to swim and it is paired with their strength. Water spaniels, the water Newfoundland, Irish setters, and golden retrievers, all swim well without training. They have long been used for retrieving birds that hunters shoot above water.
There are dogs that have the build for swimming but have a fear of water. Some are so afraid, they don't even like to be near water or even in the rain. Dogs have individual qualities, characteristics and temperaments just like we humans do.
Breeds that have short muzzles, like bulldogs have difficulty keeping their head out of the water. They would have to lean their heads so far back they couldn't align their body in a swimming or floating position. Of course the dachshund's legs are just too short to get any traction paddling. Many very small dogs have a fear of water. Physically, breeds like the Maltese and the Chihuahua could swim unless their fear was just too great. When dogs show fear of the water, protect them from going in. Their fear can cause them to drown.
Summary: Hiring and retaining employees for your dog day care will influence to a great degree your success in the company. It will also result in workers who are more confident, reliable, and willing to work. Randomly showing up to watch each worker as he performs his job is another step that, if missed, will have negative consequences. Workers whose boss pays them no attention, does not come and explore with them how the processes are working, and is uninterested in how they are getting along will gradually become less interested in their job, less reliable, feel less happy, and not work as hard.
Employees who are listened to, are actually asked about the job, their own opinion and ideas, who take part in staff meetings and are given respect, will work harder, be more reliable, and will stay longer. It is your people who carry your company toward profits. Make sure you address this with them. Let them know they are appreciated in ways that count with them. Sending out for pizza, giving bonuses, raises, more responsibilities and allowing them to suggest ideas, all demonstrate respect.
Treating your workers fairly in their eyes, caring about their personal problems and working with them instead of against them can have extremely positive effects on the business. If your employees brag about you and the company, it's cost free marketing.
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