10 Key Retention Factors

Number One: Appreciation

Financial compensation is but one factor of many in this category. Apprentices want to do work that the employer values, and be recognized for it. Apprentices need employers to provide:

  • Positive reinforcement when a job is well done, and constructive feedback when required
  • Creative social or financial incentives to recognize their work: these could be individual appreciation events (raise, bonus, top-up to E.I. while in school, payroll deduction for tools) or social (recognition in company Newsletter etc.) Find out what your employees would best respond to
  • Team building and recognition events
  • Information about the big picture, how their work contributes to the whole project or business, and what the core values of the workplace are

Number Two: Liking Co-Workers

Liking their Co-workers is one of the most important factors in creating a positive work environment, and seems to be more important than concern for remuneration. Liking Co-workers definitely  affects whether or not an apprentice stays with an employer. If an employer hires the right people cooperation and cohesiveness improves in the workplace, and productivity is increased. Be sure to:

  • Make the investment to hire the right people, to create a culture that nurtures positive attitudes, pride and cooperation
  • Be a role model yourself: interact with employees in a positive way
  • Create a working environment that employees will enjoy coming to every day
  • Establish work units or teams to further develop cooperation and collaboration

Number Three: Loyalty

Apprentices want to make a commitment to an employer, but that attachment is based on job satisfaction. Apprentices who are loyal to the company are more apt to market the merits of the business and to stay, leading to less turnover and higher productivity.

  • Be loyal and supportive of apprentices, it's the best way to encourage them to be loyal to you!
  • Deliver on your commitments: if you make them, keep them - it's the best way to build the relationship
  • Seek out and use feedback from your apprentices
  • Appreciate and recognize apprentices

Number Four: Communication

Apprentices want to be given feedback, but not just when there are problems. A minute's explanation could save hours of re-work, and remember, they are not mind readers. Communication of clear directions and expectations increase apprentice productivity and enhance the workplace environment. Verbal abuse by an employer was one of the most significant complaints by apprentices.

  • Schedule regular opportunities for communication between management or supervisors and apprentices
  • Take the time to clearly explain jobs and answer the apprentices' questions
  • Inform apprentices about the policies, procedures and general goals of the business
  • Remember that verbal abuse can stifle initiative and loyalty

Number Five: Pride

Apprentices are proud of the work that they do and are attracted to employers that stress quality work. Quality work in turn encourages repeat business, reduces re-work and wasted time and materials. Clearly this is good for business and enhances overall job satisfaction. Take steps to:

  • Consistently reward and recognize quality work
  • Provide appropriate materials, training and time to do the job right
  • Provide constructive feedback to enhance quality
  • Show apprentices how their work contributes to the whole project

Number Six: Responsibility

Apprentices stay with employers who give them a level of responsibility equal to their ability. They feel frustrated when they are underutilized and anxiety at having to deal with situations beyond their abilities. Matching their skills to the jobs that need to be completed leads to faster turnaround times, increases apprentices' abilities and self-worth and commitment.

  • Conduct regular performance reviews and adjust the level of responsibility accordingly - this in turn increases the overall skill base of the company
  • Match responsibility to ability - over or under-estimating leads to job dissatisfaction
  • Offer new challenges and vary the routine of the job where possible so apprentices stay interested in the work

Number Seven: Safety

Apprentices want to work in a safe environment and produce products or services that are not harmful to the consumer. Safe working conditions attract and retain apprentices. Increasing workplace safety as well as product safety reduces re-work and potential legal costs. An attempt to save money by cutting corners could lead to serious consequences for an apprentice who often depends on his or her physical ability to make a living.

  • Develop a safety first workplace policy
  • Educate and train employees on health and safety issues
  • Be a role model for safe practices
  • Appoint a health and safety officer or team to review current policies or introduce new ones

Number Eight: Financial Support

Number Nine: Access to Training

Apprentices would appreciate better access to work-related training: not having to fight to get into their in-school training because their employer wants them to remain working. They'd also like to be able to utilize the training they receive when they get back on the job. Colleges and the Apprenticeship Branch have a role to play in ensuring that the training provided is up-to-date and relevant.

  • Develop formal in-house training that provides apprentices with a range of training opportunities
  • Allow and broker access to outside training opportunities if you cannot provide training in all the required areas
  • Find out what apprentices are learning in school, and match on-the-job training to the skills acquired in class

Number Ten: Work/Life Balance

Apprentices want to work for an employer who recognizes and allows employees to have a life outside of the workplace. Employees with a healthy work/life balance are also more productive and have lower absenteeism rates. Some strategies to consider:

  • Allow apprentices time to attend to their personal life needs
  • Plan the work day to maximize efficiency and avoid wasted time
  • Do provide health and dental benefits
  • Start a pension plan to encourage apprentices to stay long-term
  • Plan social events that include apprentices' families

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