Those who care to make ... for what to expect in 2004 may have ... opinions in a number of areas: what the new fashion in hemlines will be, who will become our nation’s next ... o
Those who care to make predictions for what to expect in 2004 may have differing opinions in a number of areas: what the new fashion in hemlines will be, who will become our nation’s next president, or when the expected economic recovery will occur. What most experts agree on, however, is that with an economic rebound, we can expect the retention of valued employees to become a key concern for all businesses, both large and small. Organizations are now positioning themselves to grow and compete in the future, and that means it will become increasingly critical to hold onto talent who might otherwise be ready to jump ship People are already dusting off their resumes as they realize that work is out there, and I think businesses should expect to see some significant defections by the second quarter. There is starting to be some real concern on the part of companies beginning to realize that their key players, who are relied on heavily to grow the business, provide leadership direction for employees and lead the company to future success, may be lured away. As the economy rebounds, there will be an increase in competitive pressure in the marketplace to attract the best talent and organizations need to be prepared for that. Having a solid retention strategy in place is vitally important to the success of any organization. In fact, that strategy should be implemented as an ongoing part of the day-to-day business plan. Successful companies are proactive and approach retention as part of the business structure, rather than reacting to what is happening when it might be too late. It should start with recruitment and follow through as an ongoing multi-dimensional process that allows employees to be a part of the business dialogue and see that there are opportunities for growth and development within the company. Gone are the days when employees could plan to join a company straight out of college and stay with it until they receive a gold watch and a pension. Today, many may be poised to leave after having felt exploited for the past few years during an era of widespread layoffs and less-than-adequate compensation. In many cases, the bond between employees and their companies has been broken. Some have interpreted the uncertainty and downsizing as a message sent that employees are expendable, and should neither strive for, nor expect, long-term employment within a single organization. However, employers must not assume that nothing can be done to manage these negative reactions. According to the U.S. Labor Department, productivity grew at the fastest rate since 1983 in the third quarter of 2003—employees have been working hard, and companies have been running lean. Savvy organizations will be preparing now, rather than waiting until they begin to lose a critical mass of employees, to create a climate that will foster retention of these valued team members for when the economic pendulum shifts. In this spirit, here are five tips on how to maintain a successful retention strategy: Hire well. When you hire people who fit well in your organization and have the capability and desire to advance, you are setting a foundation for future success and loyal relationships. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Take the time to give and receive feedback and be willing to tailor the framework of the retention plan to fit the individual needs of your employees. Set measurable performance standards and clearly identify individual career paths within the organization. Provide challenges and growth opportunities. While offering monetary compensation can be an incentive to make your employees stay, investing in the personal and professional growth of your key talent shows that you are offering return on investment for both your employees and the organization. There is a growing trend in today’s companies of providing leadership development and coaching programs for their employees as an affirmation of the company’s commitment to both the individual’s and the company’s future. Integrate career development plans with the business goals of the organization. Equip employees to take on many different roles. This allows employees the opportunity to move in a variety of directions within the company, as opposed to the more linear pyramidal structures of the past. Provide strong leadership. Often when people give exit interviews, their initial reason given for leaving is money. However, if you wait six to eight weeks to interview them, the reasons given for departure are often linked with poor quality in management. When leadership is a primary focus at all levels, it not only provides a dynamic work environment, but it can also create a healthy and effective retention process.
Attrition of employees can lead to costly replacement expenditures and incalculable losses in less tangible areas, such as morale, productivity, customer relations and intellectual capital, much of which can be offset by a solid workforce retention plan. Companies need to become as creative and proactive about their retention policies as they are in their approach to their clients and products if they intend to remain competitive once the economy rebounds. Prepare for it now! Organize your company’s strategy and be sure it includes succession plans for senior management and talent action plans for your staff. Invest in career development programs for your leaders—find out what is important to your key employees and work within those parameters to create a climate of loyalty and the prospect of a shared future.
Gary Halverson is Managing Director of leading career services company Lee Hecht Harrison’s San Francisco, Walnut Creek and Sacramento offices, and oversees the marketing, sales and delivery of career services, while maintaining the high level of quality programs and service that customers have come to expect. He is also responsible for financial planning and success, and spearheads an aggressive marketing campaign geared toward long-term business growth within California.