Retention — Tomorrow’s Challenge
Retention may not be an issue for you today, but recent surveys suggest it will be a big problem for many companies tomorrow. Here’s what you can do to cut the problem and improve today’s performance.
The Coming Exodus
The San Francisco Chronicle gives these statistics. (On the Fringe by Dave Murphy, 12-20-03, p.B1). Note: This reference is outdated but today's surveys reveal similar discontent.
- “In a survey of 1100 employees nationwide, Sibson Consulting found that 32 percent of top performers plan to hunt for another job next year.
A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management finds that 83 percent of management employees are at least somewhat likely to look for another job when the job market improves.
83 percent of respondents to a Monster.com survey said they too plan to job hunt when circumstances improve.”
Murphy’s column quotes author/consultant Bob Nelson, who suggests ‘respect’ is the solution. “It's the little things that say ‘I trust and respect you.’. . . Asking someone their opinion is a big motivator. . . Getting to know the employees . . ”
Respect Makes the Difference
Employees will leave if they imagine that the grass is greener on the other side. Your grass is greener if it meets people’s needs. Perks can’t do this, they only touch surface issues. What people really long for is a workplace where they are respected, where they are treated as adults, where they feel appreciated—the kind of place we all would like.
Begin with Relationships
Strengthening relationships is an excellent starting point. Learn more about each person’s family, their likes and dislikes, how they feel about work, their career expectations and dreams, their favorite pastimes, and changes they would like to see.
Most managers get to know people informally, as opportunities arise naturally in everyday work. Many companies recognize the importance of building relationships. Maybe you need a more formal process (see http://www.companyculture.com/change/interview.htm ). Whichever way you choose, strengthening relationships improves communications and decisions. It also increases the responsibility and commitment people will bring to their work.
Keep It Simple—Say “Thank You”
Fortune magazine, in their annual article, “The 100 Best Companies to Work For” (January 12th, 2004), rated J. M. Smucker No. 1. "What's really impressive is a secret recipe: a culture and management style as straightforward and likable as strawberry jam. . . . “Employees don't get any razzle-dazzle perks . . .” says CEO Paul Smucker: “Listen with your full attention, look for the good in others, have a sense of humor, and say thank you for a job well done. . . “Plant supervisors have been known to serve celebratory barbecues after hitting new records; managers routinely thank teams with lunches and gift certificates.” Voluntary turnover is 3%.
Tell People What's Happening
At Google, with 1,300 people, the founders tell the staff every Friday how Google is doing, including an occasional detailed financial review. (Fortune magazine Dec. 8th 2003, p.108).
When you know the big picture you feel more involved and you make better decisions. You might not want to go as far as Google, but everybody should know where the company stands, where it is going, the sales picture, about new products and services, and who is moving where and why. Weekly or monthly informational meetings and company newsletters are excellent venues. Inviting managers from different departments to visit and discuss their area, provides information and perhaps more importantly improves communications across divisions. It’s so much easier to talk across functional lines when you know the other person.
Many Paths Lead to the Land of Low Turnover
At Harley-Davidson ranked 79th on Fortune’s “The 100 Best Companies to Work For”, there is extreme company pride . . . As one employee says "I wouldn't want to put anything on the market that I wouldn't buy myself." In their open work environment, employees say they are free to speak their minds. Voluntary turnover is 0%.
The retailer Container Store, ranked 3rd on Fortune’s “The 100 Best Companies to Work For”, is known for its exuberant morale and benefit programs carefully tailored to each person. Voluntary turnover is 9%, a small fraction of the retail industry norm.
Everyone a Master and Commander
As adults we like to be in charge of our world, at home and on the job. Everyone likes to be involved in decisions that affect them. Involving the people closest to the issues makes better decisions and shows people you appreciate them and their experience.
Most people feel undervalued and unappreciated at work. Create a workplace where people experience mastery and command of their task, and you stand out clearly in the crowd.
The Bottom Line
If your people like working for you—if they can meet their personal needs and feel valued and respected—why should they leave?
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