by Lisa Pustelak, NWIRC Employee Development Specialist and Strategic Business Advisor

With a desperate need for workforce by many companies and industries, is your company known as a ‘go to’ for employment in your community? If not, why? How do your current employees talk about working there? Would they recommend it to friends and family?

Since you cannot function without your workforce, doesn’t it make sense to focus on developing them as much as we do processes and procedures? Here are 3 areas that are a great place to start.

Culture – the culture of your shop determines who stays, who goes, and who is willing to give you a shot. Does your team look forward to coming to work or do they dread walking in the door every day? Creating a culture where people want to come to work takes time but there are things you can do immediately to start to turn things around. First and foremost, show your team you appreciate them. Recognize when they do a good job individually and in a public way. According to Psychology Today, regular verbal recognition is a greater motivator than financial compensation to most employees. A little appreciation will take you a long way!!

Communication – is the number one challenge facing most companies. It’s simple but not always easy. How is information disseminated? How do you ensure those who need information get it? When the team knows the company’ goals, information they need to do the job, and they can talk to anyone in the company, it instills confidence, allows healthy conversations, and drives productivity. Only you can decide what information you are willing to share, although the more the better. Putting up message boards (electronic or manual) is an easy way to get information out to the workforce quickly. While no one wants more meetings, zero meetings aren’t the answer either. Some meetings are necessary when they have a structure and purpose. Consider short, start of shift meetings to discuss anything pertinent to the team. Regular management meetings are recommended, but again they need to have an agenda and structure around how the information from those meetings is communicated to the front line.

Coaching – the definition of coaching, according to Google (where else do we go these days?), is … one person guiding another through a process, leading to performance enhancement. The applications can vary… support to achieve a specific project, helping an individual to do better what they already do well, or developing a skill they do not yet possess. Coaching is a huge part of employee development; however, coaching is NOT telling people what to do or what they have done wrong. As mentioned in the definition, the application can vary but it should ALWAYS include more questions than instruction. The power of coaching is helping the person being coached to find their own answers, to become less reliant on being told what to do, and to gain the confidence to take ownership of their own development.

As Henry Ford said, “the only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave, is not training them and having them stay.” With a focus on creating a culture people want to be a part of, communicating effectively and providing coaching to help employees learn and grow, you will be taking great steps towards developing employees who want to stay and be productive long-term.

Side Note: Lisa Pustelak will lead an upcoming employee development webinar series on Coaching (starting April 14). See more details at