Employees Are Your Highest Priority

By Tom Monaghan, PGA of Canada and President of Monaghan Golf Group

Huge To Overlook This Operational Aspect At Your Club

With the golf season winding down across the country the last thing likely to be on an operator’s mind is staff retention. Slow-downs and course closures typically inspire layoffs, but to overlook this important operational aspect is a huge mistake.

Let’s consider a quote from Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group: 

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

This is a powerful message from a leader in the world of business and it would serve us well to take note. Our employees are the backbone of our business, and identifying them as your highest priority will increase your chances of success, not only in the golf industry but in any industry.

Through the years I’ve used a number of strategies to retain employees, some more successful and some more creative than others. At the end of the day a strategy is something your employees will appreciate and this will enhance loyalty to you, and your company. I’ll start with some of the more tried and true methods of retaining staff.

  1. Give perks and rewards - The most common way to keep staff happy and engaged is using perks and rewards.  Traditional practices of providing a performance bonus, a holiday bonus or playing privileges are effective, but combined with sporting event tickets, staff dinners, discount equipment or staff recreational sports nights. You’ve created a culture that brings a team together with one shared purpose: to do their best for the company! These seemingly small pieces fit together to significantly contribute to the positive culture you are aiming to create and foster.
  2. Be flexible - The Millennial demographic is dominating the front line workforce at most golf facilities these days. University students looking for summer work are choosing “lifestyle” jobs over hard labour and to these 18-34 year olds, flexibility in their schedule has a value nearly on par with currency.
    • Considering that this generation will exceed the Baby Boomer population this year, it is important for operators to understand what it will take to retain these workers. As a young assistant working at golf clubs in the early 2000's, I would never have considered asking for holiday time in the summer. But this has now become a regular practice. We do our best to accommodate within reason, and the staff appreciates it.
    •  We at Monaghan Golf Group use scheduling software called When To Work and this allows employees to set daily preferences for work. If this approach is managed properly, it can assist in retaining staff year after year
  3. Get your hands dirty - We’ve all had managers, and at times we are the managers, who sit at their desks while the golf shop staff members deal with a crush of customers on a busy Saturday morning in July. Those managers seem oblivious to the stress and strain on the front line employees. Something that can go a long way to keeping the team happy and engaged is rolling up your sleeves and getting in there. Answer the phone at peak hours, help a customer try on a pair of shoes, pick up a piece of trash that 15 people have walked past, or ring in a green fee.
    • Your employees appreciate it when “the boss” works alongside them, if even for a few minutes in the day. Paperwork and meetings are serious time fillers (and sometimes time wasters) and it’s not always possible for management to get on the front line regularly. But when it comes to retaining good employees, generating strong connections can be the difference between staff who just work and those who work hard for YOU.
    • Be friendly... remember where you started - This may be a simple statement but it is one that can be overlooked. It doesn’t take much time to say hello, smile, make eye contact and acknowledge your staff. Do you remember when you were a young apprentice and the head professional acknowledged you and asked you how your day was going? Make it a point to stop and talk with the people who make your life easier and your business operate efficiently. The more you engage with your team members, the more they will want to help your cause and the longer they will want to work with and for you.

Staff retention happens when you offer a combination of monetary rewards, industry perks and schedule, but is seriously enhanced when you build a work environment that values the people who make your business run – your employees.

The respect and appreciation you show your staff members will keep them happy and is the best retention strategy anyone can have. Simon Sinek had it right when he wrote in Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.”