Retention 101: keeping your employees around

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Let’s look at some facts: the pandemic has been good for golf. Not only have hundreds of thousands of juniors and women joined the game, but millions of former golfers have returned. What an amazing time it has been. As the ball club owner stated in the movie The Natural, “fortunes have been reversed.” There is no doubt however, that there has been a great deal of stress, sacrifice and extra-long hours that allowed the game to blossom during this time. It has been difficult for many. Now with new and returning golfers, the question has been posed: how can we retain these men, women, and juniors and continue the growth? With round numbers down for the months of August and September, we realize that real lifeis reentering the picture and the greatness of the summer-fall window of 2020 is quickly fading from memory. No doubt, I too ask the question: how can the game retain these new fans? At the same time, I have another question: how can the industry help build better lives for the people who serve the game?

I talk to people around the country every week. One manager told me recently he cannot find kitchen staff: a GM told me he sees job postings for amazing positions around the country that go unfilled. Finally, a friend just exited the industry after 21 years, frustrated by internal politics. The work/life story has hit home, and it has hit hard. Americans have looked at their lives over the past 18 months and have not been happy with the image. Anyone in the game knows that although golf offers great joy with many physical rewards, it is combined with real sacrifice for both the employee and their family members. Isn’t it time for the industry to take a good look at what will be necessary to retain people who serve the clubs, namely, their members and guests? Today I offer three opinions about the retention of staff members:

  1. It always begins with hiring: hire people that understand service, like people, and are willing to go above and beyond, while being flexible with their personal calendar.
  2. Build a work schedule for the real world: work with your managers and staff to come up with schedules that serve both the club and staff members equally. Build flexibility into the work week, respecting the fact that life gets in the way.
  3. Know that one program never fits all: some staff members may want to accumulate shifts and income, while others will gladly sacrifice dollars to spend more time at home. Some staff will want more vacation time, while others want a better health benefits plan. Think about offering perks, values, and benefits as part of an employment menu, and not an offer of “this is all we got.” In a world where 4.4 million people quit jobs in August, know that your world too has changed.

Obviously, you want to build plans that stay within proper employment guidelines. At the same time, you want to create a platform that is inviting, and offers people reasons to be loyal. With workers having great leverage, it is important to rethink the way service gets done. You have costs and expenses that must be considered. Take the lead. Talk to candidates and hire the best people you can. Then build the conversation, taking the temperature of what you can do to make things continuously better (as you would for any member.) It is time to build a hiring and retention plan that fits all needs. With a new year on the horizon, there is no better time to begin than now. 

Jack Dillon writes the new IN MY OPINION post for Golf Inc. Jack is an author, speaker, brand builder, and content producer. In the game since 1973, Jack is now part of Career Dividends. He can help you build a better team, build better communicators, and a better golf shop. His new book is: Jump the line:101 Lessons for Professional Success. You can reach Jack at 407-973-6136 or at jackd@careerdividends.com. Jack lives in Orlando and on Zoom.

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