Every profession faces turnover, it’s inevitable. People come and go for a number of reasons, and funeral homes are no different. From students and apprentices that have a change of heart, to directors chasing a bigger paycheck or better hours, a funeral home is going to see people leave. That’s not to say that all funeral homes face a lot of turnover. There are many firms out there that have employees dating back decades, but what are they doing right? On the reverse, what may other firms be doing wrong?
I know of one person that saw (literally) dozens of managers, directors, apprentices, and part-timers come and go over a several year period in the funeral home where they worked. Although they were told that many funeral homes were like that, they knew not all were, but for what reasons?
Reason one: Expectations. Since you only get one shot at a funeral, perfection is often the standard for many owners. However, it’s important to know where you’re able to achieve perfection and where there has to be some wiggle room. A funeral director’s job is already stressful enough without having unattainable expectations from you on top of it. While a standard of excellence can certainly set your firm apart from the rest, you never want it to come at the sacrifice of your employees’ mental wellbeing.
Reason two: Support. As with any industry, supporting your staff and ensuring that they feel supported is paramount. After all, employees are often the heart and soul of the organization. Never underestimate the power of telling an employee “You did great,” or “I’m really proud of you.” While they may only seem like a few small words to you, they can put that particular employee on cloud nine. Often checking in with them as well to see if they need help or just how they’re doing is also a great move. It shows that you’re not some lofty higher-up, but rather someone that’s invested in them and their success. I once knew a manager that would always say “I’ll never ask an employee to do something I wouldn’t do.” What a great thing to show your staff that you’re on their side and only there to help.
Reason three: Breaks. Now some older directors may disagree here. When we chose this profession, we all knew what we were getting into. Long hours, late nights, early mornings, and missed family events. We’ve all been there. It adds up and takes a physical and emotional toll on you. Breaks and vacations are important for an employee’s mental and physical wellbeing, but, unfortunately, vacations in funeral service are rare. An average funeral director has 10 available vacation days. I know of some directors that, due to on-call duties, basically could only ever take a few days off at a time. While it’s understood that long hours and weekends on call come with the job, it’s important to understand that your employees have lives outside work. You should encourage your employees to take off when it’s possible. They’ll give their best when they’re feeling well-rested and recharged.
Reason four: Compensation. According to salary.com, payscale.com, and ziprecruiter.com, the average funeral director salary can fall between $32,000 and $79,000 a year. Remember though that that’s the national range. Some funeral directors may be making well over $79,000. It’s important to know that there are many deciding factors that go into salaries like where your funeral home is located, how many calls a year you do, and the experience the director has. The simple fact of the matter is though that they just want to be compensated fairly. It’s important to ensure though that your pay is competitive and enough to make them feel like they’re being valued fairly for what they’re bringing to the table. As with any industry though, a top reason for an employee to leave is because they feel they aren’t being compensated enough.
Ultimately, what it boils down to is promoting and contributing to a work environment where your staff feels valued, appreciated, and wants to give their best each and every day. We hope many reading this already have these practices in place and for those that don’t, we hope this will plant a seed in your brain on how you can find little ways to turn the culture of your firm around.