Making employees love you

Published in FSD Update

By 
Sara Rush Wirth, Senior Editor

Turnover hit prerecession levels last year, with three out of four vacancies coming when an employee takes another job. And when staffers leave, it costs. Replacing an hourly team member, for example, comes at a $1,100 price tag, according to Dallas research firm TDn2K. So it pays to keep staff happy.

That’s part of the reason that Joanne Chang works hard at maintaining the culture she’s created at her four Flour bakeries, her restaurant Myers + Chang and newly opened commissary kitchen, all in Boston. “It’s easier to hire and keep people,” she says. As she’s expanded from her first bakery in 2000, her emphasis on a supportive, encouraging culture has helped growth: Not only do many staffers stay for a long time and advance with the company, but it’s helped spread Flour’s reputation as a good employer in the community.

“You can’t just preach it,” says Chang. “It’s an active thing we do to push culture. We’re aware and present and watching.” For Chang, it starts with knowing the names of her 300-plus employees. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s come up with some nontraditional methods and programs that drive it home.

1. Ban on swearing

man paying swear jar

While this rule only is in place at the bakeries—“It’s kind of hard at the restaurant,” she says—it adds to the positive environment that brings out the best in employees, Chang says.

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