A challenge that every employer faces is how to keep hold of key members of staff who are valuable to the business. One reason is staff not being sufficiently engaged or feeling involved in the company’s purpose and business. According to a Gallup study, only 17% of employees in the UK are engaged, 57% are not engaged and 26% are actively disengaged. As this translates to disinterest, the quality of work drops, outputs fall and staff leave. Maintaining a low turnover of staff is essential to the overall morale of your team members, and is often a good indication of how well you operate your business.
I believe the parking industry faces an even bigger challenge, given the historic public perception of parking management companies and operatives. Car park management may not be perceived as a desirable career as other industries, so attracting quality staff in the first instance can lead to companies lowering the bar to fill a position. This, of course, has an adverse effect on employee culture, since hiring decisions are sometimes made out of desperation – and it’s difficult to build a team and develop good working relationships within it if you don’t have the correct staff in place.
One of the major problem areas for the majority of Car Park Operators is within their field teams. Low wages, lack of career progression and the threat of physical violence are just some of the reasons why operators experience problems in recruiting quality staff in this area. Unlike in other European countries, the role of a parking operative in the UK is often disregarded, looked down upon and even despised. So, it is up to the UK industry and the parking operators within it to transcend and transform the current image of the parking operative and to develop and inspire a workforce to become skilled and engaged beyond the current perception of their role. If we are to improve operative turnover rates, we need to create a compelling vision for the future and raise aspirations beyond the small incentives currently offered, like overtime pay and fuel allowances.
There are initiatives that all operators can introduce, to begin attracting – and keeping – the right people to create committed teams.
Communicate your company’s purpose, and the individual’s role in fulfilling it. Company directors and leaders generally know their purpose and direction. We know the difference we’re making to the world. Many staff don’t. The vital importance of feeling a sense of purpose should not be underestimated. It’s the foundation of everything we do. Your staff want to know they are doing purposeful work – making a difference. Remember President J.F. Kennedy visiting Cape Canaveral (NASA), seeing the janitor carrying a broom? When JFK asked him what he was doing, the janitor answered, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon!” It’s that sense of belonging to a greater mission, that knowledge of making a significant difference, however small a cog you are in a large machine, that motivates people. Ensure that your staff understand the company’s goals and where they fit, in fulfilling the vision.
Company values aren’t just something to post on a wall. Ensure that the company lives by them and staff operate them on a daily basis – and are rewarded and recognised for doing so. Money isn’t everything. Staff want their contributions to the company and culture to be recognised and appreciated. You can do this through your core values – rewarding behaviours that demonstrate company values and coaching behaviours that fall short of them. When companies recognise staff according to their values, it has a 90% positive impact on staff engagement. Each month, staff could vote for team members who have demonstrated a particular core value. This helps team bonding and builds relationships beyond deadlines and targets.
Strong, Supportive Company Culture
Regardless of whether staff are sitting in an office, or outside in all weathers, they should feel valued as an integral part of something bigger than themselves. So, share and live your company values and nurture a company culture in which people feel happy to come to work and enjoy what they do. As a leader, lead by example and model the sort of behaviour you want to see. That doesn’t mean working till late, looking stressed. Value self-care by encouraging people to get a good work-life balance. Invest in their development by putting learning at the heart of the business: supporting courses and training, so they are inspired to do well.
Personal Development Planning
65% of staff say that training and career opportunities are their key motivators. So, ensure that your business plan supports these areas, and that every member of staff has an individual, personalised development plan that supports their aspirations and career goals – as well as the company’s plan and needs. Tap into their personal motivators and support them to achieve their goals and you will have a well-motivated, engaged and energised team of people all working to achieve the shared goals of the company.
The parking industry faces bigger challenges than other sectors in attracting, engaging and retaining staff. If we are to improve the reputation and quality of the parking industry, we need to have great staff and bespoke solutions for retention, taking the industry to excellence.