This month I wanted to touch on keeping staff informed and happy. It may seem strange that a Recruiter wants to help to keep your staff happy and therefore stay with you and not move, but our business is all about working with people to improve their business's and help them to find the right staff, not jump on every negative situation that arises.

We have seen a big increase in people coming to us looking for a move where they are clearly concerned the dealerships they work for are about to go under. Now in some cases they may actually be true but the numbers of these types of conversation has to be far in excess of reality.

When I interview people its clear that in many cases its just down to poor communication and out of hand rumours within a business. With all staff worried about their jobs its very very easy to 'set a hare running' as an old boss of mine used to say.

For example, many years ago I worked in a dealership which was part of a group, it was a very good and stable dealership with about 50 staff, the DP had been there for about 10 years, the staff turnover was about 5% and the performance figures were always on or above target. However we were in the middle of a previous recession, there had been rumours of cutbacks at other dealership in the group and being out on a limb location wise we were always a little in the dark compared with some of the other sites.

One day some men in dark suits turned up with tape measures. A few brave people asked the DP who these people were, he brushed it aside and said to let them get on with their job, a few of us Sales Execs got into conversation with the 'suits' to practice our 'qualification techniques' on them but they weren't giving anything away.

The site was an old town centre dealership surrounded by houses, we knew the land which the group owned was most likely worth more for houses than cars, the rumour mill started, the Accountant rang other Accountants in the group and yes they had had visits from the 'suits' as well, the representations to the DP from us all grew firmer but he again brushed us aside.

By this stage staff were getting into a panic, Chinese Whispers were going un-checked and from memory 25% of the staff left within 4 months, sales figures slid and the status quo was broken. It was a great place to work but something changed over that period and afterwards it was never quite the same again, the DP also left under a cloud and another 3 DP's came and went within the next 2 years, I left about 2 years later and it was still not the place it had been.

Now the drop in morale and performance may or may not have been to do with the visit by the 'Men in Black' but it certainly acted as a catalyst and the gaps in the information from above was filled by peoples imaginations and turned into facts. As for the men in dark suits, I found out years later they were from an insurance company, the group had decided to get another buildings insurance quote but didn't want the staff to know in case somebody told the existing insurance company before they had the new quote. That lack of trust cost them many many thousands of pounds profit for nothing, the dealership is still there to this day, the group has expanded and doubled in size and nobody ever needed to have worried about the place closing.

I see the same thing playing out across the region, people are worried about their jobs and in some cases they may be justified but you need to keep talking to them. It may not always be good news but information is everything and people are your only asset.

Happy Hunting