Owners and managers of quick-service restaurants and retail stores know that high turnover rates are common in these industries. Not only does frequent hiring and training cost time, money and efficiency, losing key frontline employees-who provide excellent customer service and get along well with other employees-can be an even more costly loss. Effective talent management1 helps retain and shape star employees and prevents increasing turnover rates. Create and nurture a talented staff to beat the industry competition and positively impact the local community.

Talent management includes:

  1. Learning about and meeting employee needs

  2. Initiating a policy of open dialogue for positive and negative feedback

  3. Establishing employee value and respect

  4. Instituting motivational tools

You can improve turnover rates, boost productivity and build a strong workforce with the following four ways to motivate your employees.

Education & Training: High School Completion Program

It's likely that many of your crew members didn't graduate high school on their first attempt, but they could have great potential as future managers and leaders within your organization. With technology driving change within the education system, many blended and self-paced online programs can create opportunities for your best employees who do not have proof of high school graduation. You can invest in these individuals with an employer-sponsored high school completion program.

Partnering with a school that specializes in the design and execution of an accredited high school completion program can effectively graduate re-engaging students, equipping them with an official diploma. Also, a high school completion program can be tailored to meet the unique learning needs of non-traditional learners. It offers flexible schedules and provides independent learning experiences, thus setting students up for success.

Through this type of educational incentive, employers can mobilize employees to improve their lives and work toward future ambitions. In addition to academics, student employees learn job-specific and general life skills, such as critical thinking and goal setting, during their high school completion experience.

Non-completers are typically non-traditional students who did not succeed in a traditional school system. The option to earn a diploma as an adult outside of the traditional classroom provides a second chance for those who otherwise may never have this opportunity. Your company can not only support the path to high school completion, but also lend the professional guidance and support they want and need to live up to their potential.

After completing the program and earning a high school diploma, employees become confident, capable individuals with increased loyalty to your company for making it possible. These now self-directed accomplished learners have acquired employability skills and feel empowered to embark on a career pathway with your company. Non-completers turned graduates commit to the notion that education does indeed lead to economic opportunity, such as promotions and management positions.

The Schultz Foundation is an exemplary example of the responsibility and commitment aimed to improve the lives of disadvantaged youth and individuals who left school. With the help of YouthBuild USA, a national network of programs targeting low-income youths, the foundation launched a program to enable youth to become "job ready," according to the Seattle Times.2 The Seattle program equips at-risk youth and high school non-completers with the skills to work in retail or customer service by training them to be Starbucks baristas. The foundation prepares the curriculum, and working toward high school completion is requisite for enrollees. The goal of the program is to provide an opportunity for low-income workers to join the American middle class by gaining an education and acquiring practical skills. High school non-completers who earn a diploma not only gain confidence, but they get real-life experience and valuable skills.

Efforts to change the lives of young people benefit companies as well. About seven million high schoolers have dropped out of school, and companies who can help these non-completers are helping themselves, said Blair Taylor, head of corporate responsibility efforts for Starbucks. Non-completers are an essential part of the labor pool. Unless these individuals are properly engaged, retail and customer service companies will struggle to fill jobs.

As the Starbucks program expands, a crucial message pervades-educate our low-income, disadvantaged youth for better futures and a higher quality of life. Help them develop indispensable job skills to boost the customer service industries, our local communities and the economy as a whole.

But do programs like these actually work? About 70 to 80 percent of graduates from the Starbucks program move on to work at retail or customer service jobs, and others pursue part-time jobs while returning to school, the Seattle Times reported.

Administering a program that enables high school non-completers and low-income workers to earn an education and become qualified employees gives meaning to their work. They're shown a reason to not only show up to their job, but perform well and even set goals. During the experience they start to see themselves differently. Then perceptions of their potential and future change as well.

Check back next week to read how leadership and job advancement opportunities will help motivate your employees and keep them with your organization longer.

Keep reading about how you can improve your employee retention in Part TwoPart Three, and Part Four.

Resources: Photo (1) Total Talent Management  (2) Schultz Foundation, Starbucks launch training program for at-risk youth