A recent survey of human resource managers shows that employee turnover remains one of the most critical workplace issues. Sixty percent say that skilled-person power is “scarce”. Forty six percent say that worker retention is a “very serious” issue and another 28 percent believe it to be “serious”.
Companies that take the problem seriously and implement programs to ensure employee satisfaction have the highest retention rates. “Show me the money” is not the singular solution. While bonuses, stock-options, and flextime are appreciated, what employees really want is some assurance of continued employability. Here are the most popular worker retention strategies:
78% conferences and seminars
67% tuition reimbursement
67% managerial training
58% pay for performance
57% interpersonal skills training
55% technical training
Five of the top seven areas are all related to learning. Today’s workforce recognizes the value of continual personal improvement as a way to assure steady employability. Yet many companies still find it easier to throw pay increases at the problem rather than take a long-term view.
A recent study of 4000 professional and clerical workers found that job satisfaction keeps more workers than pay levels alone. The survey found that only 6% of people who were satisfied with their jobs but unhappy with their pay plan to quit. The percentage jumps to 27% when they were dissatisfied with their jobs but happy with their pay! If they were unhappy with both their pay and job situation, the percentage of those ready to bail jumped to 41%!
The challenge: what makes for satisfaction? The answer: opportunity for career development through education, meaningful work and appreciation, 360 degrees of communication, consistent performance expectations and consistent accountability, and work/life balance.
Pay is easier and quicker. Creating a culture for satisfaction takes time, prompts internal analysis, and leaves long-term positive results on the bottom line. Don’t tie pay increases to only rank and power. Work at getting away from the notion that you have to move up to make more. Remember that front line people hold customers in their hands. Shouldn’t they be among the most well-trained and well-paid people on your staff? Reward people for what they know and do, not how long they’ve been on the job or how many people they supervise.
Consider other forms of “pay” as a way for retaining employees. One software firm offers an unusual work benefit: a monthly maid service to clean employees’ homes. This service differentiates this firm from the competition and gets employees’ families involved and excited about the company. There’s no co-pay and the only requirement is that the benefit is only available to employees who have been with the company for at least three years. Another benefit for employees who stay for three years is a $1200 vacation bonus.
Here’s another point to consider: life trumps money! Workers are stretched to the max. People are no longer willing to rent themselves to their jobs to survive to the weekend. Find ways to reward employees with the gift of time. Clothing retailer Eddie Bauer gives employees paid “balance days” to attend family or personal business. An ad agency has a limited number of “duvet days” for those times when an employee just plain needs to stay home and rest. Many companies are switching from sick, vacation and personal days to “paid time-off banks”. Employees can draw for whatever reason they choose.
As we move into the next decade, labor shortages will plague employers. There’s an unprecedented opportunity for people to claim what they want in a work environment. Creative recruiting and retention strategies will take an organization just so far. The subtle but powerful difference will be in the unspoken bond between employee and employer based upon mutual respect and trust. Put relationships in order, cultivate talent, and respect differences through action and not just slogans. THEN the strategies can really take hold.
This article was previously published on Eileen’s website, and is reprinted with permission.