Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/8/2011 (3475 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THE summer vacation season is slowly but surely winding down and employees are steadily returning to the workplace. Some are feeling well rested, energized and ready to meet their work challenges. Still others are pining away for those lazy, hazy days of summer to return. These folks require a lot more time to get back into the swing of things.
On the other hand, there are many individuals who are returning with different goals in mind. In fact, according to a recent survey of more than 800 high-potential employees, more than 25 per cent reported they were planning to change jobs in the near future. Their reason was that they no longer had a passion for their job, they were no longer "engaged" and/or the opportunities simply no longer challenged them.
Yet, in their attempt to retain these highly valued employees, employers often simply "throw" money at them by offering a raise, or increasing their benefits and/or perks. However, in most cases the gift of money is not long-lasting and the employees eventually move on. So the question is, what strategies can be applied to help ensure employee retention? The following basics are known to create success.
-- Increase personal understanding -- Valued employees who are more fully aware of their strengths and weaknesses and are assigned tasks and learning opportunities that strengthen their capabilities are typically much more satisfied with their jobs and their roles in the company. Invite your employees to undertake an assessment that identifies their personal character, their strengths and areas of challenge. Help them to develop an action plan for further development.
-- Consult employees -- Employees want to be part of planning for their career within their organization. They don't want to be dictated to. They don't want to be blocked. Employees want to be involved in assignments that interest them and allowed to have some choice. They want to know what they will learn from each assignment and how this will help them progress in their career. Ask what interests your employees.
-- Be honest and transparent -- Managers need to know the career paths available within your organization. Be honest with employees about what is required to achieve each level. For instance, if progressive relocations are required for senior-level roles, then be honest and make this information known. If the work schedules require long hours that affect family life-work balance, people need to know this ahead of time.
-- Provide in-depth learning assignments -- High-potential employees want to be responsible for something; they want to take on projects where they can make mistakes, learn from them and develop expertise. Ensure the assignments are challenging and stretch their skills.
-- Assign active mentors -- Provide a formal mentoring process with a more senior leader who truly shows an interest in the mentee. This ensures that the individual has access to advice when needed and enables the organization to be in tune with the needs, interests and intentions of the employee.
-- Share employee value -- People want to feel valued, no matter what they do in your organization. There is no excuse as this can be done easily every day of the year. Give employees praise, say thank you frequently, stop and talk to them about family, friends and personal interests. Make their accomplishments known to other colleagues.
-- Create visibility -- Provide visibility opportunities for your employees to share the limelight. Showcase their work, invite them to write an article in the company newsletter, or assign them to lead a high-profile project. Invite these employees to conduct lunch-and-learn sessions as this enhances visibility as well as brings them recognition for their accomplishments.
-- Enhance individual learning -- Practical, hands-on learning needs to be accompanied by more formal learning opportunities that teach specific leadership skills. Ensure that employees see a progression of skills that can be put to use immediately as well as stretch the employees. Investigate university- and college-level corporate training programs where individuals can meet and begin to build an expanded network.
-- Support professional networking -- In addition to talent, connections, and linkages, personal relationships are key to professional success. Enrol your employees in professional associations, industry-sector groups or other interest groups so they become a known entity and can develop broad-based relationships.
-- Encourage community service -- Much can be learned through volunteerism. High performing employees will jump at the chance to contribute and learn in the not-for-profit sector. Select an organization that is in alignment with your corporate goals. Encourage the acceptance of leadership roles that also enhance visibility, networking and relationships.
-- Place employees on the succession matrix -- Work with your managers to develop a company-wide matrix that outlines your succession plan. Place each employee's name where their career path might take them. Actively review this list and ensure that when opportunities arise, employees are considered for the new opportunity.
-- Communicate, communicate, communicate -- Many organizations fail to inform their employee they are valued and that there is a career path for them in the organization. Let the employee know what opportunities are available overall and be sure to let people know about the learning opportunities and assignments that will get them there.
-- Conduct exit interviews -- You aren't going to satisfy everyone all of the time, so expect some individuals to leave your organization. However, it is important you conduct exit interviews so that you can test out the reasons for the exit. Information gleaned from these interviews can assist with all of your recruitment and retention efforts.
-- Seek employee input -- Organizations with high retention rates consult their employees through satisfaction surveys, focus groups, monthly meetings, and programs such as breakfast with the president. Employees who feel their opinions matter are much more engaged and will be interested in staying with your firm.
-- Fair and equitable compensation -- While salary and benefits are important, what is more important is the perception of fairness for the work being done. If employees do not feel fairly compensated and cannot rectify that, they will start looking elsewhere. Be sure you are paying market rates and that your benefits are attractive.
-- Create a sense of ownership -- While some employees are fearful of true employee ownership opportunities, there are many ways to create an employee ownership culture. Organizations that have an "ownership" culture involve employees in real decision making related to their job. This helps them to make decisions that are focused on the overall mission and vision and helps them to think strategically.
While it's always wise to pay extra attention to employees who exhibit the summer vacation blues, applying consistent employee engagement strategies such as those described above will help to create an energized and satisfied workforce year round.
Source: The Care and Feeding of High-Potential Employees, Robert Grossman, SHRM volume 56, #8, 8/1/2011, Corporate Leadership Council Report, 2010
Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group and vice president of Waterhouse Executive Search. She can be reached at email@example.com