Jersey Jack – March 2018


Money Matters

As the Economy Brightens, Will You Retain Your Key Employees?

Jack Guarnieri

by Jack Guarnieri, Jersey Jack Pinball &

Will the growing economy work against your business? That’s a good question and if you’re reading this, chances are you may have asked yourself that question lately.

We’ve come through a very long and difficult time in the U.S. economy since the Great Recession began in 2008. I can vividly remember dates in 2009 when the stock market went way down and many people lost a lot of money if they sold their positions. Businesses closed and some of the most reliable companies had to lay off people. Institutions that were said to be “too big to fail” were crushed by the downturn and thousands of people lost their jobs.

But here we are 10 years later when companies like Walmart are raising the minimum wage for their employees. In the State of the Union address last month, our President told us that unemployment is at a 45-year low and that the Union is strong. The road ahead looks pretty good.

With the rebounding economy, there are more possiblities for your employees to wander off to another job opportunity. Keeping them happy and productive is another full-time job…and it’s not always about money.

If you have a business that hires entry-level people such as an amusement park, arcade, FEC or bowling center, it may get harder for you to find employees. The usual and reliable pool of older workers desiring to stay active and work part time is getting thinner every year. The seasonal employee pool in some regions is not that deep either. I won’t get into the immigration battle, but because of changes to the law, some of those employees may not be available.
When times were bad and you needed to find good employees, you may have first hired from the pool of working people before you dipped into the pool of the unemployed. The thinking was that the “better qualified” people were likely to be the ones who still had jobs so why not try that group first.

When the economy was in rough shape, employees were just happy to have a job and many were not really looking to make a move. But as things improve, the employees who are best suited to find better jobs will run towards them.

How you attract, train and keep productive employees for the next few years will be a challenge. (At least I hope that the economy will be good for the next couple of years. After all, bad times seem to last too long and good times don’t seem to last long enough.)

A big part of what managers need to do is build a team. What has worked for me is building a sense of pride in the work people do coupled with recognition of a job well done.

I’ve rewarded people with surprise gifts, a lunch or gift card. I also give them a timely review of the job they’re doing and stay engaged in the work they do for the company and how they treat our customers.

Getting closer to your employees in a professional way as a coach and mentor has a lot of meaning. It fosters a bond between owner/ manager/employee at every level. When you take a personal interest in what these employees do and how they do it, you reinforce your commitment to them.

I know when I interact with employees I always feel like the lucky one, even though some employees act like it’s the other way around. I truly appreciate their efforts and I try to express that in more than a paycheck.

It’s important thay you be there to congratulate, give a pat on the back and say thank you (always) for the job they do. I really just ask a few things from my employees: that the person is honest and does his or her best.

Don’t be the manager who only interacts with employees to reprimand or point out mistakes. It helps to remember when you may have made mistakes and how you were addressed.

If you help build up the people in your company, it will be that much harder for them to let you down. It will also make it much more likely for the good ones to stick around even when other job prospects come their way.


Jack Guarnieri started servicing electro-mechanical pinball machines in 1975 and has been involved in every phase of the amusement game business since then. He was an operator in NYC, then began a distributorship in 1999,, selling coin-op to the consumer market. In January of 2011 he founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which builds award-winning, full-featured, coin-op pinball machines. Email Jack at jack@


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