• Employee Retention – Working at it Everyday

    Employee Retention, it is supposed to be a good thing.  When I hear the word retention, it makes me think of attorneys and – retainers.  If an attorney is retained, you either pay to use their services, or you pay to keep them available so you can use them. So now back to employee retention; we do pay them and hopefully they stick around.   That is the premise, you want to keep them around – or do you?  This was a subject me an my Project Social partner Laura Schroeder discussed last week  You can read her take on the matter here.

    Now regarding  employee retention, Jack Welch, former CEO of G.E. felt that, at a minimum, 10% of workforce needed to leave every year. Now, this theory did get Jack and his company in a little hot water. Even so, SHRM must have tacitly endorsed this, as they had Jack as an opening speaker in 2009 in New Orleans. So some turnover can’t be all bad, and there is going to be a certain amount of turnover no matter what.  Employees will move, leave, graduate, quit to care for loved ones, die and/or whatever else you can imagine.

    So with all of that out of the way it boils down to what are you doing to keep most of your better employees from jumping ship?  For the last several years, the economy has been in the doldrums and very few people have left any job because there were so few to move to. But now some of the soothsayers are prognosticating that when, the economy turns around, and it will, Katy bar the door.  The theory is that all of the best talent will be stolen. It will be courted away from your business with more pay, better benefits, on-site daycare and employee massages.

    Now there are some of us employers who really have not been able to land the top tier talent.  For example: my son who graduated last year with a B.S. in M.E. told me that Microsoft visited his campus and was only interested in talking to the top 10 in the class.  (That may be factually inaccurate, but suffice it to say they set the bar pretty high.) I have never had a swing at those kids, or employees of that caliber.  Our organization has had to settle for the kids with a 3.0 who have a well rounded balanced life and are not expecting the world’s treasure’s at their feet.

    Ever since these folks, the 3.0 ers, just like all of our employees, have come to work for our Company we have tried to treat them with respect and provide them with the best pay and benefits our Company can afford.  That’s all we can do.  We will continue to do so. If this doesn’t keep our “B” level talent then I guess we will have to move down to “B-“or “C+” talent.  We can’t give the store away and will never have the resources of Microsoft of Exxon.

    We will hire the people who wish to work at our Company and keep them as long as they want to stay.  I hope this is for a long time.  I am sure that any employer who treats their staff fairly, pays them a fair market based wage and offers reasonable benefits, will in-turn keep most of their best folks.

    Here is the takeaway Focus on what you do control TODAYand how you and your Company treat people EVERYDAY. Too much time spend worrying about what could be is simply wasted effort.

  • Employee Engagement – Small Business Style

    I am the Director of Human Resources in a 100 employee operation. This affords me the opportunity that might not be available to folks

    My rental car tells me it is a "cold" Minnesota morning.

     in larger organizations. One of those things is  that I get to do is go out “on the road”: and spend time with our sales representatives.  We have a handful of off-site/remote employees.  They deal with our customers directly.  I feel that it is important that they get some attention from Headquarters, other than just the sales department, or the accounting department banging on them for expense reports. 

    Fortunately our Company President agrees with this concept, so periodically I get out of the office to work shows, visit customers or just ride along with our sales folks. Just this week I went on one of these little adventures.   I was in Minneapolis, in February – my timing is not all that great.  On this particular trip there were a number of us who went with our sales rep to visit customers.

    While the concept of the so called HR guy getting out in front of customers is nearly alarming to some folks, I usually get a very positive response.  I recall what one Company President said after I met him at a show. After meeting me he replied “An HR guy, what in the heck are you doing here?”  I simply told him, supporting our sales staff and seeing what our customers need.  He thought about that a moment and said, “hmm sounds like a good idea, maybe I should have my HR people get out and meet with our customers.”

     Ok so the point of this post is not to blow my own horn, but rather to discuss some HR practices I have established that are going on at larger organizations.  My Project Social Partner Laura @workgal is also a remote employee. She works in a large organization, and is faced with many of those remote employee challenges. You can read her take on the subject here.  Now Laura tells me some of my practices are called employee engagement. (Actually I already knew that.). 

     The point is this, My Company’s sales staff do live a long way from corporate headquarters, they do not interact with company employees everyday and what they do for our Company is huge.   Effective employee engagement can run the gambit from being very formal and structured as Laura has discussed in her post, or fairly informal and not too structured, by simply spending some face time with remote employees, talking to them making sure their needs are being met.   Either way can work, but you have to remember them and pay attention to them.  Because if you just assume they are doing their job and everything is ok, – well let’s just say we all know what happens when you ass-u-me!

  • Employee Engagement in 600 Words

    Ok here in the HR blogosphere we all touch on the HR hot buttons – it’s required.  My last post looked at on-boarding.  So now, I am moving on to employee engagement,  specifically at smaller organizations.  Currently employee engagement is one of HR’s sexy subjects.  It is the subject of books and conferences. Many of the beautiful people in the speaking realm, pontificate often about the dire consequences of a failed employee engagement programs.   So those of us in the HR space sit up and take notice and want to do our very best with this. We do so because they tell us this must be done to keep all of our “A” players,  to keep them from running away when the economy picks up

    I heard a term from my ProjectSocial partner Laura Schroeder the other day, she spoke of Diva Engagement – I loved the term.   Laura works in that realm where she is dealing with creative and highly educated individuals, and you can read about her prospective on employee engagement in that realm here.  For  the rest of us there is one problem.  What if your company does not have any of the darlings – really?  It seems to me in some smaller organizations there are the A players, but they will be A players regardless of what we do to feed them or starve them. I am not advocating ignoring or dissing them; but that’s who they are.  They are the stars who will always be in the game and if they are that good they will be there until they decide to do something else.  Let them know they are appreciated, smile at them and pay them as much as your organization can afford to do so.

    Next, let’s move on to the “C” players, or as they are known in the space as the actively disengaged.  These guys are poo pooing everything.  Let’s identify them, call them out and isolate them as best we can and move on –my strategy here.

    The last group I will call our presentees  a.k.a. the disengaged.  This is where we need to be working.  In a smaller organization you don’t have the dollars to spend on things that don’t produce results.  Accordingly we learn to spend wisely, where we can show results. This group makes up about 50% – 60% of the employees, depending upon whose surveys you find to be credible.  Let’s call it half of the work force – they come to work, do their job, cause few problems and go home, to return the next day. That is every day for them.

    With the presentees there is still hope, but how do you get to them.  The best method I have found is through good supervision and management of them.  It seems simple, but if these folks are treated just a little better than the average employee, you can boost their level of engagement and their productivity.  It is little things like telling them thanks for a good job, thanking them for working overtime or taking the time out to ask a caring question about a family situation.  Treat them like your friends and they just might act like it. Those who study generational matters tell us Gen X & Yers are loyal to people and not to organization.  Knowing that, train your front line supervisors to be those people their employees can be loyal to, give them a reason to feel connected with them.  Start small, with one employee, try to make them feel important and needed.  Find a way to bring them into the fold – to be an integral part of the business.  Then start on a second employee.

    So in a little over 600 words I have covered employee engagement and provided an effective, inexpensive strategy for managing your staff – sort-of.  However, it still might be a good idea to pick up a book or two, maybe even attend a seminar if you want a few more details.