Friday, March 13, 2009

Attracting and Retaining Employees

Employee retention strategies of the corporate HR world need no introduction. The need of the hour though is a well thought out retention plan from an employee's perspective. The ability to retain talent is a clear indicator for success.

Turnover - facts and myths:

Employee turnover is a serious concern for managements aiming to remain competitive in the global economy.

  • According to Human Resource Management Association, 20.4% of the employees quit organisations every year in the health care industry. Other industries report a 12-15% turnover rate.
  • A survey conducted by Kepner- Tregoe of Princeton, New Jersey on over 1290 employees, 64% states that top managements seldom initiate programmes to retain employees

Top management's attitude towards staff is a major cause for concern amongst employees. They consider that financial factors significantly motivate employee retention. Contrarily, Krepner-Tregoe's report shows that 40% of the employees feel that financial benefits are ineffective in their retention.

Talent magnets
Employees are satisfied and happy when their basic needs are fulfilled. Organisations meeting these needs are considered 'talent magnets'. Attracting employees and retaining them is critical to reap the benefits of a great workforce. Financial factors although important are not the sole retention factors. Meetings, discussions and surveys help to understand employees' needs better.
Retention Factors
Meaningful work

Employees are rejuvenated when given responsibilities relevant in ensuring an organisation's success. According to Studs Terkel, author of Working, employees "search, too, for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying." Such work gives better results than any individual financial benefits.

Talent magnets ensure that their vision and mission statements are adequately communicated to their employees. Thereby employees become aware of their role in fulfilling organisations' goals. These organisations also encourage employees to innovate and keep them abreast of customer feedback.

Medtronics dealing in medical products from Minneapolis arranges annual holiday party where employees meet patients who are completely cured after using its products. Employees thus identify their accomplishments in a social context.

Genuine appreciation for the work accomplished motivates an employee and is inexpensive and easy. Talent magnets clearly distinguish between their annual prizes or awards and day-to-day appreciation, lest its significance should be lost. In an industry experiencing rapid turnover , Meredith Burgess of Burgess Advertising, a Portland, Maine company records high employee retention rate.
Doug Levin, CEO of Fresh Samantha, the natural fruit juice company, gets information from his managers every week regarding employees who perform outstandingly and sends them 'Thank You' notes. Oakhurst Dairy, of Portland, identifies star performers and gifts them dinner coupons or movie tickets.

A learning atmosphere is vital for employees' true career progression. Acquiring new skills enables them face challenging situations successfully. This is facilitated through training programmes or by assigning new projects or higher job responsibilities. It is an investment that attracts and retains the best employees.
Organisations like Hussey Seating of South Berwick design jobs that demand employees' mental alertness. Employees are also involved in process improvement and decision making activities.


Organisations can retain their employees by valuing their efforts in keeping the business going. Employees should have the autonomy to take independent decisions on certain issues. By thus trusting their abilities, the management displays its respect for the employees.
Keane inc., well known as a great place to work in encourages employee participation in the decision making process. The mutual respect organisations and employees hold for each other is a sure sign of success.
These indicators are simple and effective. Nevertheless many organisations do not follow them because most managers

  • Are caught up in completing their work within deadlines and ignore even the simple needs of employees.
  • Though competent in technical skills lack interpersonal skills
  • Tend to believe that they know what satisfies the employees better than the employees themselves

HR managers need to guide their organisations to successfully attract and retain their employees. They should synchronise the organisation's goals and objectives with employee needs.
Attracting and retaining employees
No hard and fast rules to retain employees exist. Every organisation, its employees and their needs differ. Therefore, to understand and fulfill their needs organisations must focus on:

  • Constant interaction with employees through meetings, surveys, anonymous suggestion boxes, informal conversations, discussions and by creating an honest and open work culture that encourages employees to voice their concerns
  • Facilitating group discussions and surveys among managers and employees to identify work cultures and practices that aid high performance
  • Offering salaries that are competitive in the industry though salary is not the only single or a major motivator
  • Training managers and supervisors in interpersonal skills and people management techniques
  • Providing growth opportunities for employees and conducting performance reviews to highlight their strengths and enhance performance
  • Encouraging team -work to improve productivity and morale
    Providing multi- tasking options based on their talent. Diverse work assignments encourages innovations
  • Communicating to employees key issues that effect the organisation and employees interests
  • Facilitating learning by holding seminars, meetings and discussions on business journals/articles etc.
  • Defining with roles and responsibilities clearly
  • Recognising employees accomplishments and making them feel an integral part of the organisation

The job expectations of present day employees have undergone great changes. Earlier employees worked primarily for a rewarding compensation. Today, they look beyond financial benefits. Individual recognition, good work culture, career growth and involvement in organisational issues give them more satisfaction.

Though the problem of employee turnover cannot be overcome totally, effective retention strategies need to be adopted. An effective retention strategy is an investment and will increase an organisation's productivity.

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