Why motivate employees to join and stay with your organization? First of all, because it's good business. Companies that strive to attract and retain skilled personnel show consistently higher bottom-line profitability, increased value to customers, and stronger sustainability, especially in challenging times.
Second, employee retention saves you money. Conservative estimates suggest that losing a middle manager can cost a company up to 100% of his or her salary in reduced profits, while the loss of a senior executive costs even more. And most of these projections don't even begin to consider such hidden costs as lost knowledge and arrested return on training investments, the counterproductive effects of mourning and insecurity among remaining coworkers, and an expensive replacement search.
Third, in the near future good employees will become even harder to find and keep. The reason: the up-and-coming workforce comprised of Generation X (people born between 1965 and 1981) will number only about 58% of the presently available work pool that includes Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964.) So as the Boomers retire, a lot fewer people will be available to work.
Fortunately, you can do a great deal to ensure that your company is well staffed now and into the future. The key is to position your company as an employer people want to work for. Below are practical tips on how:
1. Take an introspective look at your organization's integrity and fairness, and correct inequities. As an employer, are you fair? Do you operate with integrity? Do you offer a forum for open dialogue? Is there pride in the workplace? Do you provide opportunity for self-satisfaction and professional growth?
At PrintLink our experience in screening candidates suggests the perception of fair treatment is critical to employee retention. Yet sadly, only 39% of North-American workers trust their company's senior leaders. On the other hand, the businesses whose staff trust top management show 42% higher shareholder returns that businesses whose workers lack confidence in their leadership.
2. Know your company's culture and communicate it openly to prospective employees. Research indicates that employees' fit with corporate culture is 80% responsible for determining their degree of motivation and emotional commitment to the job. Mismatches stress and drain them by consuming high levels of adaptive energy, since misfits are continuously forced to adjust themselves to the work environment against the grain. Conversely, a good match jump-starts productive interaction and effective communication between the employee and the company.
Therefore, before hiring any likely prospects you uncover during job interviews, first give them a plant tour or create a forum for them to interact with your key staff members. Then heed what their responses tell you about their future fit with your organization. It also helps to work with outside staffing specialists like PrintLink, who can give job candidates an unbiased overview of your company's corporate culture and assess their suitability as matches before introducing them to you.
3. Communicate with your staff. Recent studies show only 52% of employees feel they know how their jobs promote company objectives. Yet today's employees require more information than ever before to help them cope with multiple uncertainties: the wavering economy, downsizings, and the faster pace of change in businesses, marketplaces, and customer demands. Generally, staff like to know what their management is doing to stay current in their marketplace and what they can do, specifically, to help make a difference. By communicating your company's goals and strategies to them, you not only keep them engaged but also give them the information they need to tailor their daily actions to support your initiatives.
Creating explicit job descriptions and conducting consistent one-on-one performance reviews are important aspects of communicating effectively with staff. But informal channels are equally essential. "Management by walking around" provides mutual communication opportunities and insight, as well as having a huge positive impact on how your people feel about both their jobs and their leaders.
Accessibility and communication were critical to former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's leadership after 9/11. Basing himself at Ground Zero, he co-ordinated responses from numerous city departments, relayed their needs to state and federal authorities, encouraged emergency personnel, consoled the injured and bereaved, and made frequent media appearances to give the public critical information on what had occurred and what was being done. His constant visibility and reporting inspired universal confidence that the crises was under control. So central was communication to his achievement that a 9/11 exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History houses Giuliani's two-way-walkie-talkie telephone-a device he was rarely without on the days after the September-11th attacks.
4. Conduct exit interviews. Do your best to determine why an employee has chosen to leave. This will provide valuable insight for hiring a replacement and may possibly furnish additional clues on how to stop other valued employees from leaving.
At PrintLink we take special care to interview potential employees sensitively and creatively to determine their real reasons for leaving or wanting to leave jobs, since they are sometimes reticent about their true motives. Initially, they will often cite compensation as the key factor, when in fact more often it turns out to be their incompatibility with either the corporate philosophy or the company's way of doing business. By delving beneath the surface, you can not only uncover the root cause for their departure, but can also take the opportunity to fix any adverse factors that may be unnecessarily driving employees away.
5. Recognize and reward team and individual performance. One way to acknowledge your staff's valuable contributions to your corporate targets and goals is with tangible rewards dispensed through a creative compensation plan. The plan offers raises, commissions, bonuses, or gifts tied to achievement. By first establishing effective benchmarks and measurement tools, you can then create an incentive plan that rewards people for exceeding the benchmarks.
The prize does not need to be monetary, however. For deserving staff who take pride in their work, public recognition can be the sweetest reward. It can take the form of a plaque, mention in the company newsletter, or a creative gesture that typifies your company's personality.
It is important to acknowledge the contribution not just to the contributors themselves, but also to their peers and significant others. By making a formal presentation or posting congratulations, you demonstrate that the company cares about its employees' efforts and inspire other staff to perform better. A thank-you note to contributors' families lets relatives know the employee is valued and also reinforces your appreciation for the time and hard work top performers have contributed to the company.
6. Provide training and professional development. Enable people to succeed by giving them the professional training necessary to do their jobs well. Training acknowledges the employee's value to your company and recognizes that you have a future together.
Realize also that the best employees seek opportunities for challenge or advancement. Without the chance to assume new responsibilities or work on new teams or committees or projects within your organization, they may feel they are stagnating and move on. People are motivated to work for-and stay with-companies that nurture their careers.
7. Be proactive to improve team interactions. Start from day one by implementing an orientation process that integrates new team members effectively. Additionally, people leave managers and supervisors more readily than they leave companies or jobs, so any measures you apply to improve the quality of supervision your employees receive will aid in employee retention.
8. Adjust your physical environment to help staff meet your customers' needs efficiently. Functional work spaces and work surfaces, adequate task lighting, and appropriate safety and environmental conditions can all boost your staff's performance. In an industry that now operates 24/7, employees' safety getting to and from your building is also an important factor.
9. Give staff a forum for open dialogue. Employees are the ones who see your operation from a day-to-day perspective. They are stakeholders in your business. Value that. Encourage and empower them to contribute ideas for improving your operations, using well-thought-out reasons to substantiate their points of view. In exchange, provide them with meaningful feedback, including an explanation of how their input was considered or acted upon (or if not, why not.)
10. Use humor. Some organizations have devalued humor and laughter at work, seeing them as unprofessional or unproductive distractions from getting the "real" job done. Yet a recent study of financial institutions found mangers who facilitated the highest level of employee performance used humor the most often.
The great psychotherapist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl defined humor as "one of the soul's weapons in the fight for self-preservation." In a crisis, it can be an effective mechanism for defusing stress and giving people a break from the disruptive negative emotions of anger and anxiety. Physically, laughter has been proven to lower blood pressure to a healthier level, oxygenate the blood (thereby increasing energy), relax muscles, and stimulate production of endorphins-natural "feel-good" painkillers that raise both our mood and coping abilities. Psychologically, appropriate workplace humor promotes self-detachment, emotional and mental flexibility, problem-solving, and improved morale. It can also serve as a social lubricant to break the ice, soften criticism or conflict, and strengthen staff relationships and esprit de corps.
Just as PrintLink introduces select employees to companies, we also take pride in recommending bright opportunities with top-rated companies to candidates looking to move their careers forward. "We know, we've been there" is the foundation of our success, since all our managers possess substantial backgrounds in various sectors of the graphic communications industry-including business ownership, production and operations management, estimating, customer service, document solutions, information technology, fulfillment, and sales. Supplementing our managers' first-hand experience is a strong insight into changing technology and market conditions through an extensive network of industry contacts. These strengths enable us to interpret each company's unique corporate culture and hiring goals to candidates, while providing personalized attention and the potential of strict confidentiality to both sides. For employers, we serve as a partner and credible advocate in informing prospective employees why theirs is a good company to work for.