Employee recruitment and retention are hot topics in the world of Human Resources. In executing their duties, HR professionals every day address a number of recruitment and retention myths. These myths include the following:
- People most often leave for more pay. While research shows that most people do not leave a job for more money, very low-income workers will leave for more money in order to make ends meet. Others use pay to express a perception of unfairness in how the organization values their contributions.
- Productivity-based incentive programs produce long-term impacts and improved morale. Studies show that carrot-and-stick motivation programs do not pay off with long-term employee retention. Employees want a chance to learn and grow in the job, perform meaningful work, collaborate with good supervisors, and receive appreciation for a job well done.
- Employees do not want more responsibility. Employees are not looking for more work, but are looking for opportunities to grow and develop their skills. Employees want to try new things, to feel skillful, and to experience personal satisfaction that comes from higher levels of achievement.
- Loyalty is dead. Employees want greater work-life balance as well as the opportunity to make higher contributions to the success of the organization. Employees express loyalty when given the opportunity to better serve customers and when given more learning opportunities.
- Improving employee satisfaction is expensive. Research tells us that employees cannot be bought. Employees want a manager that listens & responds to employees’ ideas, supervisors who support people’s growth & initiative, more training in how to do their jobs better, and effective, positive co-worker relationships. Meeting these needs does not have to be an expensive undertaking.
- Employee satisfaction is fluff. Studies show that lower turnover and greater satisfaction levels have a positive impact on customer satisfaction & organizational financial success.
- Supervisors are the problem. Supervisors today on average have more staff reporting to them than in the past, yet the amount of training provided to supervisors is minimal. The root issue of underperforming supervisors may rest more with the organization that the supervisors themselves.
- My organization’s employees are different. Employee issues & needs are universal and are not dependent upon industry.
According to research conducted by Dr. Jim Harris and reported in his book Getting Employees to Fall in Love With Your Company, there are five principles embraced by the best-run companies in America, including Walt Disney, ServiceMaster, Southwest Airlines, Marriott, Ben & Jerry’s, North American Tool & Die, Lincoln Electric, Jacksonville Foods, and Cunningham Communication. These principles are as follows:
- Capture the Heart. The highest achievable level of service comes from the heart. The organization that reaches its people’s hearts will provide the very best service. Organizations that help employees balance work & life demands, inject fun into the workplace, and create compelling visions of how they contribute to the organization’s success capture the hearts of their employees.
- Open Communication. Employees are more loyal when they feel connected to the organization. Successful organizations encourage their employees to ask questions of their supervisors regarding the business and to have them involved in critical business decisions.
- Create Partnerships. Many of these organizations create partnerships by sharing financial numbers with employees, both in good times & bad, and by linking incentive compensation programs to both individual & team success and failure.
- Drive Learning. These organizations require employees to develop their skills to perfection and ask their employees to learn something new every day. A number of these organizations make available industry-specific reading material and provide in-house seminars, allowing employees work time to develop their skills.
- Employee Action. These organizations understand that to increase employee loyalty and retention, they must go beyond traditional empowerment programs. Rather, they give employees the freedom to succeed. A rule at many of these organizations is to use your good judgment at all times.
Based on these five principles, the most successful organizations today employ the following strategy in the recruitment and retention of key employees.
- Pay attention to top employees to make sure they are being developed, rewarded, and recognized for their contributions. Develop a reputation for this in the industry to attract future talent.
- Build and maintain relationships with top employees, so that departure from the organization will be a personal & very difficult decision for the employee. Top employees also will share this sense of belonging with potential new employees.
- Increase confidence and hope among employees through a participative vision & strategy. Engage your employees. Develop a reputation as an open organization that really listens to employees and their ideas.
- Build loyalty, commitment, and trust, so that employees offer these back to the organization. We only have to look at Enron, Wells Fargo, and WorldCom to see what happens when trust is lost.
- Create clear communication pathways so employees always learn important information first hand.
Recruitment and retention are major issues as employers struggle to keep the best & brightest employees and attract the same from the outside. Employees increasingly are demanding a balance of work & family life, and are not willing to sacrifice everything for their careers and employers. Lifelong employment with one organization is no longer a desired option for many employees. Employees are continually searching for the best pay, benefits, and culture & work environment. With turnover costs conservatively estimated at up to 50% of an employee’s annual pay, retention of employees and recruitment of future staff are critical.
In order to attract and retain top employees, organizations must have an effective, comprehensive strategy addressing four key components:
- Effective internal management,
- Career development opportunities,
- Work-life balance programs, and
- Strong compensation & recognition programs.
Organizations that pay attention to these components have a better chance of attracting and retaining the talent required to remain competitive in the marketplace.