Guest Author: Can (John) Ozcan
Position: Southeast Regional Operations Assistant, Champion National Security
Years at Champion: 4.5
Personal connection is what makes the difference between a job you love and a job you show up to and that’s no more evident than in my own history with Champion. I started as a regular officer as a way to boost my résumé while becoming a certified law enforcement officer. I never intended to stay this long or grow with the company the way I have. I went to work everyday, treated people the way I wanted to be treated and stuck to my belief that people come before business. Before I knew it, my position evolved and opportunities kept opening up for me. That’s because Champion’s first core value of “People Matter Much” reflects my own. I’ve always been a people person, but at Champion it’s a valued skill.
Personal connection has kept me with Champion and I think it’s the foundation of employee retention in any industry, but why is increasing employee retention so important? Two main reasons: profit and better service. Training takes a lot of time and management man power that you don’t get to bill your client for. If your turnover is high and you’re constantly training new recruits, that takes away from your profit.
When an employee has been with the company for multiple years, they know what the client wants. When they have evolved in their positions, they tend to want to be better for the clients and that leads to better service. We also get to know our employees better over time. We know their work effort and what we can throw at them. Tenure isn’t just beneficial for the company, it benefits employees too. When we know we can rely on tenured employees, we’re able to offer them more and more opportunities for career growth.
The best way to make those personal connections that ultimately lower turnover, is spending time with your employees. I try to work an entire shift with a new officer -- midnight to 8 a.m., whatever. I try to figure out what makes them tick. Do they have kids? What are they into? What other responsibilities do they have? I ask as many questions as possible and listen. By doing this they also get to learn about me. They realize I’m human and not just their boss. People tend to hold a lot back when your title is above them, but by spending time with your employees when you’re on site and working alongside them, they’ll eventually become more comfortable around you and start opening up. The more they see you, the more they trust you.
After a while, that information gives me insight into what employees need from me. I end up learning a lot of their sleep schedules based on their work shifts and what I know of their other responsibilities. This industry operates 24/7, and I know who I can call in at any given time.
The other way to develop that trust is by always being honest and direct. I usually prep people for the worst of the worse case scenarios when they’re starting a job. If it’s a 14-acre property, I tell them to be prepared to walk it every hour. If they’re becoming a field supervisor, I let them know that their holidays and weekends are gone. I let them know what to expect because if it isn’t something they can do, then we’ll find them another post. Most of the time though, it sets expectations high and then the tasks are actually easier in practice. I also carry that honesty into conversations about pay and even when terminating employment by making sure they understand why and what their options are going forward.
Sooner or later, employees figure out the answer to any questions they might have. If you’re not honest and candid, employees are going to leave. You harm yourself because you lose your credibility.
Having an open, honest relationship with your employees helps everyone. The better connection you have with your employees, the more they will disclose to you. When you have a relationship, they’re going to talk to you both when they’re upset and when they’re happy. That means that you hear about problems and issues and can come up with solutions. If an employee is thinking of leaving, they’ll tell you and that gives you the chance to fix whatever happened or triggered that decision. It also means you know what you’re getting right and can do more of it.
I love my job and I’m lucky to be able to do it. That's what happens when you work with people that share the same values. When they treat you that well, you don’t leave.
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