Getting Down to Business with Retention

By Charlie Sharon, FASNY Recruitment and Retention Committee

Recruitment and retention: We all have heard these words. The first thoughts are of what will be done to recruit new members. Much time and resources are being spent to achieve this goal. But once we get the person in, what is being done to keep them? In most cases, nothing is being done.In business, you have a unit supervisor. Part of that person’s job is to ensure all the employees are working at peak efficiency.

In business, you have a unit supervisor. Part of that person’s job is to ensure all the employees are working at peak efficiency.

If an employee shows any type of problems that might exist, the supervisor will call that employee into the office and see what it is that is causing the employee’s work to falter. At that point, help will be offered. Remember: A happy employee is a productive employee.

Should there be no resolution to a problem, the employee will end up quitting or get fired. At that point, it is too late. Well, not really.

Good employers conduct exit interviews. They want to know why that employee is leaving. So, do we as volunteers conduct exit interviews? Do we let our employees get this far? Is this a disservice to our customers whose area we serve? The answer is, in most cases, not positive.

People, who trust us to serve them on a professional level, are being short-changed by our lack of effort to find out why people start not showing up to calls and other functions. The bottom line: seven new recruits and eight people gone is a loss of one. That one is a highly trained member that we need. And no one asked why.

Common issues usually start with leadership. This occurs when small cliques of people want to rule with an iron fist. Or maybe personalities conflict to a point when it is not worth showing up.

The shame of it all is it can take years to build up morale and attendance, and then all it takes is a few people who can kill that very quickly. When you used to get 35 people at drill and now only 12 show up, these leaders will want to throw out the missing 23 and not try to find out why.

The goal is to not have to conduct an exit interview. We have all seen the signs of problems. The person may start missing drills, then calls, and finally not show up for weeks or months at a time. If we were running our organization like a business, a supervisor should reach out to the member and find out what is going on in their life that is causing them not to show up.

This is where talking to members can start the retention process. If the cost of living, such as expenses and taxes becomes the issue, maybe discounts to local merchants can help. If a member can save, for example, $20 when taking the family to dinner, then maybe they also saved two less hours of work and now have two more hours for a drill.

This can be applied to many things. School leave, affordable housing, school tutoring, networking for a job, and many other reasons can be uncovered and solutions applied so that membership can remain robust and happy.

This will only improve service to our residents. The other after-effect is positive feedback to recruit more new members.