Leader Volume 8, Number 12
Steps to Keep Your Best Employees
Marken is President of Marken Communications, Inc. in Santa Clara,
California (phone 408-986-0100; email firstname.lastname@example.org).
A recent on-line
newsletter from a recruitment firm mentioned that, because of the
continual turnover of senior managers, even non-tech oriented
companies were beginning to offer signing bonuses, salaries of
$100,000+ and stock options for middle managers.
In addition, a newspaper career counselor recently advised
a reader that unless you had an employment contract, nine months
was long enough for a job.
It was noted
that, if you move, it should be for more than just money.
It should be for a better company fit, for skill
enhancement and that the move match your career game plan.
today are that there are very few rules.
There's no longer a stigma attached to people who have had
three or four job changes in the last few years.
That's good news for people who want to "shop."
It's bad news for companies.
Sixty to eighty
percent of the organization's inventory leaves through the front
door each evening. Every
time part of that inventory doesn't return, it costs dearly to
replace the individual. Since no one has unlimited staffing budgets, employee
retention is the best way to keep your largest cost under control.
motivation for an individual to job hunt is seldom simply a bigger
paycheck. There are low-cost efforts you can undertake to retain
the people you want to keep.
Flexible hours and telecommuting
managers are realizing that flexible hours and telecommuting are
the most cost-effective ways to retain present personnel.
The combination of flex time and flex place are inexpensive
Many times, it
also makes better use of your overall resources--physical and
fiscal. Mangers are
realizing they can focus the best possible person for the job,
regardless of where he or she lives.
They eliminate the high cost and personal disruption and
concerns that surround relocation. This is especially true for companies in areas where
housing costs and daily commutes are more than some people want to
telecommuters, companies also don't have to pay for office space,
parking and commuting costs.
In many instances the savings can be substantial.
More than 60% of
the nation's firms have increased the number of telecommuters over
the past two years. And,
according to AT&T's National Survey of Teleworker Attitudes
and Work Styles, 60+ % of the respondents felt telecommuting was
positive for their careers. Sixty-two
percent found no difference in working at home, and 15% felt more
connected to their workgroups.
Seventy-one percent were more satisfied with their jobs
after they began working at home.
In making the
move, companies must outline the location and hours of work, who
owns the equipment and who's responsible for repairs.
Many firms find that with Internet connectivity people are
not only more productive when they work off-site, but they
actually put in longer hours.
The individual's commute is only 15 steps rather than 15+
miles and people can focus all of their attention on the task
rather than routine office interruptions.
extremely simple but with reduced staffs, increased workload and
compressed time schedules, it is easy to forget compliments.
While some people are self-reliant and self-assured, it is
amazing what a few well-chosen words can do.
People need to know that their efforts for the company are
recognized and appreciated.
especially true for junior people who may be taking on projects or
activities for the first time.
Each success should be acknowledged so the individual will
grow and have the confidence they are growing personally and
But don't overdo
it and don't spread the praise around so much that it becomes
Employees training employees
hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars each year
conducting formal training sessions.
For some of the skill sets, formal training is a must.
organizations are finding that itís not only more cost-efficient
but also more effective to have employees teach each other. The
company's most valuable resource is its people; leverage their
experience, capabilities and technical/work expertise.
Mentoring allows seasoned professionals to share not only
theory, but also "real-world" experience.
This is often more valuable than classroom instruction.
It helps both the
trainer and the trainee. The
trainer gains recognition for his or her technical or business
gain insights into practical applications and knowledge they can
confidently and immediately use.
Clear career paths
know the company's and department's plans for the next one, three
and five years. Identify
opportunities for people. Explain
whatís required for them to move forward in the organization.
Without a clear-cut understanding of what they have to do
to advance, people quickly become demotivated.
At that point they begin looking for "better"
Work with cutting-edge technology
organization advocates letting people work on special or new
technology implementation projects.
But these programs and projects are often given to the same
few "stars." The
high-potential types get the projects because management wants to
make certain the effort succeeds.
As a result some members of the team never get the chance
to stretch themselves and grow.
If you find this
occurring, use the approach with teams made up of senior and
junior personnel. Keep
in mind that even your best staff members aren't good at
everything. Sometimes they can learn from new members in the team.
As individuals develop a broader range of understanding and
expertise let them lead teams on new projects.
This keeps people from being pigeonholed or left out so
they cease to grow.
Shield your people
are internal or external, one of the managerís most important
jobs is to control the interaction between "clients" and
staff. Managers should be the lightning rod that shields
others in the team, allowing them focus on their work.
Because your work
is an inexact science at best, occasionally things will go awry
despite the best plans and individual efforts.
When this happens, itís the manager's responsibility to
not only defend staff personnel but also take the heat.
Once the problem is solved or resolved, the individual(s)
involved can be counseled on how the situation could have been
avoided or corrected so the problem doesnít come up again.
Emphasize benefits package value
If your company
offers good benefits, make certain employees know the value of
those benefits above and beyond their weekly or monthly paychecks.
Depending upon the company, benefits can be 20-30 percent of total
In addition, you
may want to consider adding or offering benefits that cost very
little or nothing. Non-cash
incentives can be a key means of retaining people.
The right mixture of these incentives often helps keep
employees and often keeps them from leaving just for an increase
in salary. Days off with pay at the completion of a major project,
paying for attending conferences and educational/informational
seminars, flex time, child care, wellness credits, corporate or
departmental health club sponsorship and similar benefits can do a
lot to keep people from considering job offers.
birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions as well as
impromptu parties for the completion of a major project is a
cultural activity that says "you're important" and
"you matter." Little
things can build big loyalty.
However when this
cultural support comes down as a corporate edict itís often
Small gifts, cash prizes
gifts such as sporting event tickets, free meals, theater tickets
and on-the-spot cash awards of $25 - $50 is a way for department
mangers to recognize an individual's accomplishments or
since incentive awards have become commonplace, they can often
lose their effect. When
the awards are given, combine them with public recognition.
tickets or dinner aren't important to professional staff members
and certainly won't keep them from taking a better job offer.
However, receiving the recognition in front of their peers can
build team and organization loyalty.
When the big
offers come, they can force people to consider a move.
It's up to corporate and department managers to use as many
of the low-cost incentives as possible to keep people from looking
for a new job or cut off overtures at the outset.
Low-cost incentives should be part of your total
compensation program. Don't
take them for granted or you'll continually be hiring and training
new people. Constant
replacement is far more expensive than the incentives.