When families come to a funeral home, they’ve experienced a tremendous loss – the loss of a loved one. In addition to working through their grief and planning funeral or memorial services, they’re also burdened by issues related to their loved one’s estate, friends, and family. Because of this, funeral professionals must possess high degrees of compassion and professionalism.

Not only do you need to find talent who can serve your families at your standards of service, but you also need to retain these people. This is especially important in an industry that relies heavily on community involvement and relationships. The right people can create and uphold a positive reputation, whereas the wrong ones can damage your image and deteriorate goodwill in the community.

Here are ways you can both attract and maintain quality talent for the long term.

Offer Incentives

One of the best ways to ensure worker satisfaction is to provide incentives for excellent work. While you might think of a salary or hourly wage as a sufficient incentive, this base pay may, in fact, function as a disincentive. Rather than motivating your team to exceed expectations, base pay may encourage people to do the bare minimum.

There are several different structures for incentive compensation plans but the most effective ones will align employee performance goals with desired company objectives. These objectives often include exceptional levels of customer satisfaction, targeted revenue metrics, and even accounts receivable. Incentive plans can act as an added benefit to your employee compensation package which can help attract new talent. In the end, though, only your high performing team members, the ones growing your business, are compensated.

Another example of incentive pay is commission, in which sales-related roles earn extra compensation based on their sales results. This type of pay is clearly applicable in the pre-need part of your business but can also be applied tactfully in other areas such as merchandise or ancillary services.

In highly competitive labor markets, a sign-on bonus can be the right incentive to attract the talent you need. Sign-on bonuses have the benefit of being a one-time payment that won’t inflate your personnel expense in years to come. High base salaries, on the other hand, are more structural and can impact total operating expense for years into the future.

While stock options are a viable incentive for larger businesses, a comparable method for smaller funeral homes could be a profit-sharing bonus. This system creates regular bonuses (monthly, quarterly, or yearly) based on the overall financial success of the company. This is an effective way to motivate employees to act in the interest of the company, as they’ll experience the rewards with each bonus.

Create a Solid Work Culture

The work culture of your funeral business refers to the values of your business and how they trickle down to the work and life of your employees. This includes your company’s mission, the way leadership relates to team members, and how employee expectations are communicated.

Creating a positive work culture in a funeral home takes more than words – it involves employees living the mission of the firm and having a clear understanding of company values. At its most basic level, this could look like giving team members paid time off in the event that they grow sick or endure the loss of a loved one. With that said, while certain aspects of company culture are valued by all ages, newer generations have slightly different expectations from their work cultures. Compared to prior generations, millennials and members of Gen Z want:

  • Inclusivity: Younger generations value workplaces that cultivate and support diverse workforces. This relates to women and minority workers not only being hired but also retained and paid comparably to white male counterparts.
  • Transparency: Younger generations also want to be sure of the people they work for. They want their leaders to keep them abreast of the state of the company and any key decisions made at the leadership level.

Uplevel Your Benefits

Both new and older generations alike appreciate––and potentially expect––ample benefits packages. With health insurance packages becoming the standard, many employees now expect benefits that help support a healthy work-life balance. Especially in the funeral profession, where work can be emotionally draining and overwhelming, you’ll want to be sure employees have access to benefits to help them stay mentally ready for the daily demands of their jobs. One example of this is an Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, that provides services such as counseling and information on wellness matters for employees who have personal or work-related problems.

Additionally, rather than providing a specific number of paid days off per year, many firms are requiring a certain number of minimum days off. This may be telling your team that they must take 2 weeks of vacation. Some options to consider:

  • Gym memberships
  • Hybrid in-person and work-from-home options
  • Stress management programs
  • 401(k) employer contributions

Provide Growth Opportunities

Particularly when it comes to younger generations, holding onto good workers will take more than creating a positive company culture and offering benefits. Unlike times past, when people stayed with a company for the bulk of their adult lives, millennials are much quicker to switch companies, even if they like their job. A Gallup poll found that 60% of employed millennials are open to new job opportunities. Only half of those surveyed strongly felt they’d still hold their current job one year from now.

The reason for this largely comes down to money. While the average yearly pay increase is typically between 3-5%, employees can exceed this raise by a large margin through switching employers entirely. Rather than simply doling out excessive raises to all your employees, you can provide career growth opportunities, allowing them to gradually earn these raises by taking on more specialized and important responsibilities.

One way to do this is to sit down with each of your employees, figure out their long-term goals, and how their current role can develop with your help. Performance Reviews and regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings offer a great environment for this conversation. For example, if an employee hopes to one day manage the funeral home, you can gradually provide training in different aspects of the business. This way, they’ll feel as though they’re progressing towards a greater goal, one that will ultimately help your business, as your employee will feel passionate about the work they’re doing.

Remove the Guesswork

While large businesses have entire HR departments to oversee the recruiting and retainment of top talent, these tasks often prove difficult for smaller funeral home businesses. For these smaller firms, it can be hard to tend to the work-life experiences and needs of your team. That’s why you should consider the help of a consultant.

At Johnson Consulting Group, their team of funeral business consultants can take a closer look at your business, both on the operational and individual levels. By getting to know your team, how they work, and what they appreciate about their roles in your funeral home, they can help you implement strategies to motivate your team and keep them with you for the long haul.

Retain the Best Team