“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
~St. Francis of Assisi~
Client Sarah Asks: In this economy, money has to work very hard for us. We want to retain our best employees. How should we allocate our finances to maximize our retention?
Coach Joel Answers: That’s a great question, Sarah. Your company has a number of options—different ways to spend your money. To best motivate your workers to stay with you, you first need to understand them.
Not all workers respond the same way. Some of your options have tax consequences that might matter to your top talent. Others may perceive one or another of these choices as more prestigious or of greater value to them.
So your first step is to know your key players. Assess them. Find out what is most enticing and likely to keep them working for you.
Then choose from these four methods those that will work best for you, your employees, and your company.
1. Competitive salary. This is the first rabbit most businesses pull out of the bag. And for a very good reason. It is effective.A salary that pays market value means there’s no financial incentive for your worker to leave. They can’t expect a better offer elsewhere. And when you pay a little above average, workers may feel they are being paid extra for any small inconveniences that come with the job.
2. Bonuses. Sometimes companies need to see how their finances play out before they can reward their employees. They may give workers an average salary with the promise of a bonus if the company does well.
This has the added advantage of offering motivation. Each employee sees their salary more connected to the success of the company. They may make that extra effort to help the company succeed.
The benefit to you, Sarah, is that the company keeps its bottom line lower in difficult years, but can reward employees and keep retention up by promising bonuses in good years.
3. Fringe Benefits. Top talent may be motivated to stay with the company for certain perks. The choice corner office. Company car. Use of the company jet. Pizza Fridays. A nice company gym or offering child care.
Some fringe benefits offer prestige and status that is more enticing than money alone. Some may fill a compelling need of your workers.
Here is where you really need to know your employees. What kinds of fringe benefits connect with them? Is this something that makes financial sense to the company? Perhaps birthday recognitions are low cost, but highly satisfying to your workers. That leaves money on the table for other retention methods.
4. Stock options or company ownership. When employees are vested with company stock options or a chance to buy into the business you strengthen their commitment to their job. They are much less likely to leave.
You need to decide if this is a financially viable option for employee retention. Does it make sense in your business model?
Sarah, you are wise to consider the best uses of your company’s finances to increase worker retention. With the cost of hiring and retraining, it makes more sense to invest in keeping workers satisfied and happy. You gain the benefit of experienced workers. And happy employees are more productive.
To understand your worker’s motivations and develop a retention plan designed for success, contact Joel.
Talkback: What has your company done to retain employees? What has been most successful?
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“The true way to render ourselves happy is to love our work and find in it our pleasures.”
~ Francoise Demotte Bille ~
Client Paul Asks: I’m tired of the same-old recognition presentations. I want my employees to know that I value them. I want to retain my top talent. But I want a fresh approach, a different way to recognize them.
Coach Joel Answers: You’re on the right track. Recently, when companies were asked if they thought employee aptitude or attitude was most critical for success, they chose attitude.
When you reward employees with interesting presentations, you will enhance workplace attitudes and keep your key people happy. But it doesn’t have to be boring. You can make those announcements of great performance fun and interesting.
Add a little humor, do something zany or off the wall to brighten things up. Or make it special or memorable.
- Place the commendation in the midst of a power point presentation. Imagine the impact on the room when a heart-felt commendation is presented, out-of-the blue in the middle of a meeting.
- Have fortune cookies made up with notes mentioning how great your employee or your team is. Then share them at a special presentation and see their faces light up.
- A personal, handwritten note, while not a public declaration, represents your time and indicates your appreciation in a way that is unmatched. Regular affirmations, even private ones, can make the recipient look forward to coming to work each day.
- Learn your employee’s favorite restaurant and give them a gift certificate for that place. Or perhaps tickets for their team’s event.
- Order a mug or T-shirt specially designed for the employee you want to recognize. Make the presentation and invite your worker to “dress down” and wear the T-shirt for the rest of the day. If it’s a mug, then fill it with his or her favorite coffee or tea.
- Throw a party for the honoree. Order in munchies, party hats or noise makers and let everyone know they are enjoying the break because of the great work of the employee you want to honor and retain.
- Award the top team with a lunch on you. Give them that freedom to eat and enjoy some down time as a way of saying “Thank you for a job well done.”
- Create a traveling “Good Job” trophy. It can sit on the desk of the employee you want to recognize for a week or two until the next worker is presented with the trophy.
- Make a giant card. Put it on an easel and have everyone write one thing they appreciate about your star employee.
- Construct a large sign with appropriate wording to honor your key player. It might be something that could hang outside his or her office for a period of time. It could be serious, wacky, or funny, depending on your office culture.
Paul, employees always appreciate a financial reward for hard work, but a creative presentation can make your workers feel valued. It will make the office more interesting and interactive. And when your staff is having fun and knowing they are appreciated, they will want to stay with you.
If you’re looking for unusual or interesting employee retention presentations, contact Joel. He’ll help you improve the attitudes of your staff.
Talkback: What out-of-the-box presentations have you given to reward your employees?
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“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.”
~ Bob Nelson~
Client Joan Asks: We’ve been really struggling with an employee retention problem. I’d like to help my managers determine where the problem may lie and come up with some solutions we can implement to keep our employees productive and happy.
Do you have some articles I could recommend to them that would help?
Coach Joel Answers: I like the direction you are going, Joan. If you allow your managers to read up on the way other people have resolved this problem, you get some buy in.
Then when they come to the table to discuss their ideas and solutions, you already have them taking ownership of the problem. They will be more interested in working toward a solution.
Here are six articles that will get you started.
1. How Managers Can Improve Their Workplaces for Employees. Joan, the fact is, most employees leave because of their boss and the management. The great thing about the suggestions in this article is that you don’t need to bust your budget to accomplish these strategies.
You’ll find seven simple steps you and your managers can take immediately to help retain more employees. Read Employee Retention Article.
2. Ten Ways to Keep Your Star Employees. Anytime you have top talent, you want to have them happy and secure with you. One of the issues that surfaces with rising stars is they will not stay if they don’t feel they are doing fulfilling work. Also, if they feel they are totally inundated with work they may become discouraged. Read Star Employees Article.
3. Highly Engaged Workplace. Sometimes you find workers just “biding their time” at their job. They don’t feel committed to the work. They stick it out because of the down economy, but don’t feel any loyalty to your company. This article helps you identify the key things that bring your employees fulfillment.
When you find those benefits and work situation that engages your workers, you change them from “waiting to leave,” to “wanting to stay.” It changes the entire workplace environment. Read Engaged Workplace Article.
4. How Men and Women in Leadership Can Help Employees Succeed. When employees are properly trained and feel they are using their skill sets to succeed, they enjoy their jobs more.
Use this article to examine the training opportunities you have in place. Do your workers need tutoring, mentoring, coaching or on-the-job training to feel more valuable? Are your employees confused about expectations and how you define success? This article will help you evaluate your workers better. Read Help Employees Succeed Article.
5. Give Employees What They Need. Sometimes as you evaluate your employee retention issue, you may discover that you have not given your staff the tools they need to succeed.
When workers stand on uncertain ground, they seek the security of another job. With this article you’ll find six tips to strengthen your employees’ commitment to succeed at your job instead of looking elsewhere. Read Keep Employees Motivated Article.
6. Why Did They Leave? How to Retain Workers by Surveying Employees After They Resign. What’s the best way to determine whether your employees are happy or unhappy and why? Ask them! This article explains the importance of surveying current employees and provides examples of questions to include on your survey. Read How to Retain Workers Article.
Joan, as your managers look at these employee retention articles, they will see where they can strengthen the workplace and their management skills. When employees enjoy their job, their manager, their work environment, and their pay you will find your retention problem disappears.
Looking for the solutions to your employee retention issues? Contact Joel for options specifically designed for your situation.
Talkback: What articles have you read lately that could help managers keep their workers satisfied?
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“Employee loyalty begins with employer loyalty. Your employees should know that if they do the job they were hired to do with a reasonable amount of competence and efficiency, you will support them.”
Gregor runs a small franchise with employees that come and go. He works hard to keep his employees, and does better than most. Still, the nature of the business creates a paperwork chaos.
He knows his records are not in the order they need to be. As a matter of fact, they are in boxes in his garage.
A brush with litigation made Gregor realize it was time to get things straightened out. “I knew I had to manage my risk better. If this had gone to court, I might have been in a mess just because I couldn’t find the right documentation,” Gregor said.
1. How Long Must Records be Kept? The first step in Gregor’s risk management plan was to find out what the laws were on retaining employee records. He searched the internet and came across a myriad of information.
Hiring records? One year, unless it’s an apprentice program. Then it’s two years. Equal opportunity infraction? Records must be kept from the date the charge is filed—no matter how long it takes to resolve. Most payroll records? Three years.
The rules were so convoluted. Gregor finally found a chart that helped.
2. How Can I Organize My Employee Records? Gregor had the boxes divided by years, so that was a start.
“Initially, I just hired my daughter to go through the boxes, shredding everything that was outdated,” Gregor said. “That cleaned up a good part of the garage! But going forward I wanted a better system.”
Gregor decided to scan every application and file it electronically. The notes and promotions also went into the employee’s electronic file. They were marked again the date they departed and the record was flagged to be discarded after the appropriate time.
3. How Can I Retrieve the Records? Gregor’s garage retrieval method was a disaster. He had to spend hours going through the boxes to find the employee records he needed.
The electronic filing of records improved things, but tagging the records in meaningful ways was more cumbersome then he’d imagined.
They needed to be filed by name, by date of hire, date of departure, promotions, any issues or grievances they’d had. He had to document deficiencies and be able to retrieve them as needed.
“It was hard to find a system that worked well,” Gregor said. “I moved to some software systems. That helped a lot.”
4. How Can I Find and Eliminate Old Records? Because Gregor has such a high employee turnover—it’s the nature of his franchise—he needed an easy way to retain the employee’s records while they worked and discard them after the appropriate time elapsed.
“I’ve been without any cardboard boxes of files in my garage for a couple of years now,” Gregor said. “But even handling the files on the computer just became too much. It was a constant effort—weekly even—to pull up and toss the old files.”
Ultimately, Gregor outsourced the employee record keeping to simplify his life.
Improper employee records retention can be a ticking time-bomb to any business, large or small. Gregor was in good company.
A recent survey said that 38% of organizations had not assessed their record keeping to see if it was optimal for risk management. And another 14% didn’t even know if an assessment was planned or completed.
Step in front of the pack and master your employee record keeping now.
If you need help training your staff to comply with employee record rules, contact Joel.
Talkback: How have you dealt with the complexities of knowing what records to keep and which you can toss? Have you found software or other sources to simplify your work and manage the risks associated with having employees?
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“The idea of a work/life balance is much more important to younger workers than it ever was with baby boomers. Companies are looking at retention issues.”
~ Jen Jorgensen, Marketing Strategist ~
Client Sandy asks: Our company culture is big on a lot of the rah-rah stuff. We have a softball team, monthly pizza feeds, suggestion boxes in every department, and a costume contest on Halloween. It all looks like fun, but lately we’ve lost some of our best people and I’m feeling the need to create some more substantial employee retention programs. As HR manager, I’m committed to hiring and keeping good employees. But there are so many kinds of retention programs out there that I don’t know where to start.
Coach Joel Answers: When you create a workplace culture that fully engages and rewards employees at all levels, you win in three important ways: you build a loyal, committed workforce; you develop a great reputation among clients, customers and the public; and you avoid the financial losses that high employee turnover creates. Here are three hallmarks of a good retention program.
1. Avoid gimmicks. You mention your pizza feeds and suggestions boxes, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with those. Who doesn’t love a good pizza? But these are short-term, cosmetic kinds of programs and they don’t build employee loyalty that lasts. When you’re designing a program, you need to include several important factors. First, you need to align with your company’s strategic objectives. You need to consider what your competitors are doing and look at best practices in your industry. And most important, you need to include your employees in planning and implementing any new initiatives. People support what they help create.
For example, one of the best ways to retain good employees is to design a personal growth program that’s customized for each individual. Work with your managers to develop a checklist they can use that includes things like in-house and external training programs, executive coaching, job-sharing, and cross-training.
2. Bridge the gap. The generation gap, that is. Employee retention is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. There’s a big difference between the needs and wants of baby boomers and Gen-Xers, and chances are you have some of each.
Because baby boomers are thought to be the healthiest generation out there, they have plenty left to offer and many still want to make their mark in the business world. Provide them with opportunities to be creative, express initiative and pass on their knowledge to the generations coming up behind them.
Gen-Xers, on the other hand, place a high value on quality of life issues such as work/life balance and public service. At the same time, they are known to have much less commitment to the corporation and are much less reluctant to switch jobs, companies, and even careers. Set up a two-way mentoring program where the generations can interact with and learn from each other. You’ll solidify your relationship with both of them.
3. Count the cost. You already know that employee turnover is costing you money. But there are costs you can see and costs you probably don’t notice. According to the Bureau of National Affairs, employee turnover averages around 14% in most companies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average cost to replace an employee in private industry is about $14,000. These are hard costs that drop straight to your bottom line. But what about the hidden costs? Consider these questions:
- How much stress and poor performance are created when employees have to pick up the workload of someone who leaves?
- How many customers do you lose when stressed-out employees give poor service?
- How many other employees might be lured away by an employee who leaves?
- How many employees start to think about other options when a valued friend or trusted colleague changes jobs?
When you implement the strategies we’ve suggested, you will have taken a big step toward building a satisfied, committed workforce. And you’ll see the results in higher productivity, better customer service, and bigger profits.
Joel would love to discuss specific employee retention programs that can work for you and your employees. Contact him today.
Talkback: Is turnover causing you problems? Or have you tried some strategies that really work? Share your story here.