Blog Archive

Top Ten Ways to Retain Your Great Employees

comments (0)
Posted by admin

Article from about.com, written by Susan M. Heathfield 

Key employee retention is critical to the long term health and success of your business. Managers readily agree that retaining your best employees ensures customer satisfaction, product sales, satisfied coworkers and reporting staff, effective succession planning and deeply imbedded organizational knowledge and learning. If managers can cite these facts so well, why do they behave in ways that so frequently encourage great employees to quit their jobs?

Employee retention matters. Organizational issues such as training time and investment; lost knowledge; mourning, insecure coworkers and a costly candidate search aside, failing to retain a key employee is costly. Various estimates suggest that losing a middle manager costs an organization up to 100 percent of his salary. The loss of a senior executive is even more costly. I have seen estimates of double the annual salary and more.

Employee retention is critically important for a second societal reason, too. Over the next few years while Baby Boomers (age 40 to 58) retire, the upcoming Generation X population numbers 44 million people (ages 25-34), compared to 76 million Baby Boomers available for work. Simply stated: there are a lot fewer people available to work.

Employee retention is one of the primary measures of the health of your organization. If you are losing critical staff members, you can safely bet that other people in their departments are looking as well. Exit interviews with departing employees provide valuable information you can use to retain remaining staff. Heed their results. You’ll never have a more significant source of data about the health of your organization.

I’ve provided retention tips in earlier articles, but will add ten more retention tips to your arsenal with these top ten ways to retain a great employee.

  • Management thinkers from Ferdinand Fournies (Why Employees Don't Do What They're Supposed to Do and What to Do About It) to Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman (First Break All the Rules agree that a satisfied employee knows clearly what is expected from him every day at work. Changing expectations keep people on edge and create unhealthy stress. They rob the employee of internal security and make the employee feel unsuccessful. I’m not advocating unchanging jobs just the need for a specific framework within which people clearly know what is expected from them.

  • The quality of the supervision an employee receives is critical to employee retention. People leave managers and supervisors more often than they leave companies or jobs. It is not enough that the supervisor is well-liked or a nice person, starting with clear expectations of the employee, the supervisor has a critical role to play in retention. Anything the supervisor does to make an employee feel unvalued will contribute to turnover. Frequent employee complaints center on these areas.

    --lack of clarity about expectations,
    --lack of clarity about earning potential,
    --lack of feedback about performance,
    --failure to hold scheduled meetings, and
    --failure to provide a framework within which the employee perceives he can succeed.

  • The ability of the employee to speak his or her mind freely within the organization is another key factor in employee retention. Does your organization solicit ideas and provide an environment in which people are comfortable providing feedback? If so, employees offer ideas, feel free to criticize and commit to continuous improvement. If not, they bite their tongues or find themselves constantly "in trouble" - until they leave.

  • Talent and skill utilization is another environmental factor your key employees seek in your workplace. A motivated employee wants to contribute to work areas outside of his specific job description. How many people could contribute far more than they currently do? You just need to know their skills, talent and experience, and take the time to tap into it. As an example, in a small company, a manager pursued a new marketing plan and logo with the help of external consultants. An internal sales rep, with seven years of ad agency and logo development experience, repeatedly offered to help. His offer was ignored and he cited this as one reason why he quit his job. In fact, the recognition that the company didn't want to take advantage of his knowledge and capabilities helped precipitate his job search.
  • The perception of fairness and equitable treatment is important in employee retention. In one company, a new sales rep was given the most potentially successful, commission-producing accounts. Current staff viewed these decisions as taking food off their tables. You can bet a number of them are looking for their next opportunity.

    In another instance, a staff person, just a year or two out of college, was given $20,000 in raises over a six month time period. Information of this type never stays secret in companies so you know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the morale of several other employees will be affected. For example, you have a staff person who views her role as important and she brings ten years of experience, an M.B.A. and a great contribution record to the table. When she finds she is making less money than this employee, she is likely to look for a new job. Minimally, her morale and motivation will take a big hit. Did the staff person deserve the raises? Yes. But, recognize that there will be impact on others.

  • When an employee is failing at work, I ask the W. Edwards Deming question, “What about the work system is causing the person to fail?” Most frequently, if the employee knows what they are supposed to do, I find the answer is time, tools, training, temperament or talent. The easiest to solve, and the ones most affecting employee retention, are tools, time and training. The employee must have the tools, time and training necessary to do their job well – or they will move to an employer who provides them.

  • Your best employees, those employees you want to retain, seek frequent opportunities to learn and grow in their careers, knowledge and skill. Without the opportunity to try new opportunities, sit on challenging committees, attend seminars and read and discuss books, they feel they will stagnate. A career-oriented, valued employee must experience growth opportunities within your organization.

  • A common place complaint or lament I hear during an exit interview is that the employee never felt senior managers knew he existed. By senior managers I refer to the president of a small company or a department or division head in a larger company. Take time to meet with new employees to learn about their talents, abilities and skills. Meet with each employee periodically. You'll have more useful information and keep your fingers on the pulse of your organization. It's a critical tool to help employees feel welcomed, acknowledged and loyal.

  • No matter the circumstances, never, never, ever threaten an employee's job or income. Even if you know layoffs loom if you fail to meet production or sales goals, it is a mistake to foreshadow this information with employees. It makes them nervous; no matter how you phrase the information; no matter how you explain the information, even if you're absolutely correct, your best staff members will update their resumes. I'm not advocating keeping solid information away from people, however, think before you say anything that makes people feel they need to search for another job.

  • I place this final tip on every retention list I develop because it is so key and critical to retention success. Your staff members must feel rewarded, recognized and appreciated. Frequently saying thank you goes a long way. Monetary rewards, bonuses and gifts make the thank you even more appreciated. Understandable raises, tied to accomplishments and achievement, help retain staff. Commissions and bonuses that are easily calculated on a daily basis, and easily understood, raise motivation and help retain staff. Annually, I receive emails from staff members that provide information about raises nationally. You can bet that work is about the money and almost every individual wants more.

Take a look at your organization Are you doing your best to retain your top talent? Employ these ten factors in your organization to retain your desired employees and attract the best talent, too.

 

Employee Retention: What Employee Turnover Really Costs Your Company

comments (0)
Posted by admin

Article from webpronews.com, written by: Ross Blake

It’s one of the largest costs in all different types of organizations, yet it’s also one of the most unknown costs. It’s employee turnover.

Companies routinely record and report costs such as wages and benefits, Workman’s Compensation Insurance, utilities, materials, and space, yet most companies have no and report the cost of employee turnover. It can be much higher than you think.

How Much is it Costing You?

Several well-regarded studies have recently estimated the cost of losing an employee:

  • SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, estimated that it costs $3,500.00 to replace one $8.00 per hour employee when all costs — recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, reduced productivity, et cetera, were considered. SHRM’s estimate was the lowest of 17 nationally respected companies who calculate this cost!
  • Other sources provide these estimates: It costs you 30-50% of the annual salary of entry-level employees, 150% of middle level employees, and up to 400% for specialized, high level employees!
  • Do a quick calculation: Think of a job in your organization where there has been some turnover, perhaps supervisors. Estimate their annual average pay and the number of supervisors you lose annually. For example, if their average annual pay is $40,000, multiply this by .125% (or 125% of their annual pay, a reasonable cost estimate for supervisors). This means it costs $50,000 to replace just one supervisor. If this company loses ten supervisors a year, then 10 times $50,000 equals $500,000 in replacement costs for just supervisors. This is the bottom line cost. The top line cost? If the company’s profit margin is 10%, then it costs $5,000,000 in revenues to replace these ten supervisors.

Do These Numbers Seem Unbelievable?

Here’s an actual calculation from a well-regarded organization in my community. The HR Manager of this human services organization (housing for disabled persons, sheltered workshops, etc.), estimated that 30 entry level people leave his organization on average every quarter.

This averages out to ten people per month. Let’s be extra conservative and shave SHRM’s estimate (see above) down to $3,000.00 to replace each employee.

This amounts to $30,000 per month, or $1,000.00 in employee turnover costs every day of the month! Annually, this totals $360,000.00.

Actual turnover costs are usually much higher than we think they are — until we estimate them.

You may be thinking, “Some employee turnover is unavoidable, even desirable.” You’re right. Some turnover is necessary, to replace marginal or poor employees with more productive ones and to bring in people with new ideas and expertise. However, high turnover costs are both avoidable and unnecessary.

This is where companies need to focus their efforts. The goal is to retain valued performers while replacing poor ones.

Most companies group both types of performers together when looking at turnover. By doing so, they’re missing the cost and significance of replacing the good performers.

Why Don’t More Companies See This as a Costly Problem?

There are a variety of reasons this is not seen as a problem, all of which cost companies in expertise and dollars. How many of these occur in your organization?

1. No process is in place to tabulate costs. One survey found that only 44% of its respondents had a process in place to estimate turnover costs; 43% of companies relied on intuition, and 13% had no process at all. (1)

2. Costs are not reported to top management. It’s a business axiom that one of the best ways to get top management’s attention is to show them what something costs. However, most top management never gets to see turnover cost estimates because most companies don’t measure them — or if they do, they don’t report them to top management.

3. It’s an inescapable cost of doing business. Except, it’s not! While some turnover is unavoidable and desirable, most turnover, especially among your better and top performers, is largely avoidable. Thinking that turnover is just a normal cost of doing business is the same quality of thinking which says that accidents are just an inescapable part of being in the construction business.

4. It’s an HR problem. While HR needs to be a key partner in reducing turnover cost, this is a strategic issue requiring top management’s attention and actions, in addition to HR’s efforts, to resolve it.

5. Costs are underestimated, and so they register less concern. If costs are underestimated because the organization doesn’t agree on or know what to measure, the statistics generated either register less concern than they should, or are disputed and held in disregard.

What Costs Need to be Fully Estimated?

A comprehensive program measures the following costs:

  • Exit costs
  • Recruiting
  • Interviewing
  • Hiring
  • Orientation
  • Training
  • Compensation & benefits while training
  • Lost productivity
  • Customer dissatisfaction
  • Reduced or lost business
  • Administrative costs
  • Lost expertise
  • Temporary workers

There needs to be advance agreement among Human Resources, Finance, and Operations as to which cost measures will be considered valid. Then, it has to be measured and reported.

6. Waiting until there’s a crisis. I was amazed when the executive director of one organization told me she knew that one of her capable managers was unhappy, but decided it wasn’t necessary to take action because she hadn’t received a letter of resignation yet.

Prevention is what works best. Begin to measure your turnover costs and, very importantly, look at who is leaving so you’ll know if you’re retaining your best people.

The time to do this is now. Waiting until there’s a crisis to take action limits your options and success rate. It also often triggers the common response of offering more money to get someone to stay, instead of fixing the original problem.

Why Do So Many Retention Efforts Fail?

These are among the most common reasons company retention efforts fail, even when they’re implemented by capable people.

1. No assessment, so ineffective solutions are chosen. In their hurry to correct a costly problem, companies often forgo conducting a relatively brief and cost-efficient assessment in order to correct the situation faster. However, implementing a solution without diagnosing who is leaving, and why they’re leaving often results in solutions that are incapable of solving the root causes behind turnover.

Diagnosing the reasons behind turnover always pays for itself. Don’t start without an assessment.

2. Implementing too many solutions instead of the most effective solutions. Managers often brainstorm a number of plausible solutions, then implement many of them — especially those favored by top management. However, what is most needed is to select and implement a limited number of solutions which will be most effective at solving the problem. Implementing too many solutions, even good ones, will diffuse your resources and weaken your efforts and success.

3. No way of measuring success to know what works. How do you know which retention solutions you’ve implemented are working effectively and which aren’t, where you need to make refinements, and what strategies you need to drop if you don’t have a way of measuring your results?

How Do We Do a Better Job of Retaining Employees — Especially Our Most Valuable Ones?

First, rank your employees in three categories: best performers, middle performers, and lowest performers. Your objective is to retain your top performers; develop and retain your middle performers, turning them into near-top or top performers if possible; and potentially replace your lowest performers.

Second, agree internally on the measures you’ll use to calculate turnover costs. Be certain you’re taking all costs into consideration. Most organizations greatly underestimate them.

Third, report turnover costs to top management on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.

When turnover costs are unacceptably high, or higher than your industry’s average, do an assessment. Find out who is leaving and why they’re leaving. Exit interviews can help you find out why.

You need to know if it is your top, middle, or lowest performers who are leaving so you can gauge the expertise level leaving your organization. You’re obviously going to employ (and pay for) different strategies if your top performers are voluntarily leaving, compared to middle or lowest level performers.

Develop solutions capable of solving the problems you uncover, and only implement a limited number of them.

Measure the success of your retention efforts, and refine them.

Two Very Key Strategies to Save a Large Amount of Time and Money.

Very key strategy # 1: Don’t wait until turnover costs become unacceptably high before you implement an ongoing retention program. Put a retention program in place before you have crisis situation. You not only must find out why employees leave your organization, you must also find out why others stay.

Very key strategy # 2: Survey your top performers now in order to find out what keeps them there, why they might leave, what type of competitive offers they may find attractive, and what they need to be happier and more productive in their jobs. You’ll do a better job of keeping them (along with their expertise and value). You’ll also find out highly beneficial information about improvements your organization needs.

This means driving improvements in your organization by what your best people tell you, instead of focusing on taking care of the ever-present complainers in every organization.

Just How Valuable are Retention Efforts? One source estimated that a 10% reduction in employee turnover was worth more money than a 10% increase in productivity, or a 10% increase in sales!

Retain and gain.