In Alberta,Canada, where many of our clients do business, staff retention has become a critical and expensive problem. But there are ways to stem the tide!
The consequences of losing an employee are well recognized. Monetary costs alone are approximately $5000.00 to replace a frontline person, $40,000.00 to replace a professional and even more to replace upper management positions. Costs include training, orientation and unproductive time until they get up to speed. To say nothing of the costs in staff morale, disruption and stress.
It makes sense to do whatever you can to retain your talent!
In a tight labour market, employers try all sorts of strategies to keep people around. Some of these include:
- Increased pay
- Flexible hours
- Better benefits
- Longer/more flexible vacation time
- Support for education/training.
But these measures are stop-gap at best. And they are also the easiest things for your competitor to match in the bid for talent.
So what’s the solution?
According to theUK’s Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, “It is relatively rare for people to leave jobs in which they are happy, even when offered higher pay elsewhere.”
So, it seems like the solution is to keep employees happy. And conversely, to avoid making them unhappy.
What does that mean?
Studies consistently show that employee happiness is largely based upon:
- Having a manager that you respect and enjoy working for.
- Camaraderie and teamwork in reaching goals.
- Having clear, consistent and manageable goals both individually and as a team.
- Feeling valued and respected by managers and colleagues.
- Having work that matches your abilities. Not boring or over-stressful, but challenging enough to be interesting and engaging.
- Having work that is meaningful
- Having a clear understanding how your work fits into the big picture.
- Having some control over your daily work and career path.
- Having a voice in decision making.
- Fair and competitive pay and benefits.
What is striking about this list is that they are largely “soft” and unquantifiable attributes. And many managers, having been promoted for great performance in their area of technical expertise (engineering, sales, financial, etc.), are poorly equipped to lead in this arena of human motivation, coaching and mentoring.
In looking at our own corporate clients, it becomes obvious how true this is. Those that view their employees as “human capital”, as plug and play units that can be traded and replaced in the open marketplace, suffer greatly in staff turnover, morale and productivity. If you treat your employees and contractors as mercenaries, they will behave as such and have little loyalty to your cause.
Conversely, those whose corporate cultures embody the attributes that lead to employee satisfaction, are productive, happy and stable with little turnover.
And if you don’t think that’s good enough…here’s the kicker. When you have a happy, healthy corporate culture, everyone in your corporation will project that to your suppliers, customers, regulators and stakeholders. As a result, doors will open, friction will be reduced and you will reach your corporate goals much more easily. After all, people like to do business with people they like.
It seems like a great place to be, but how do you get there?
Although it’s easiest to establish a healthy corporate culture right from the moment of inception, the good news is that it’s never too late to start.
Here are some general guidelines based upon our experience of what works.
- Start from the top. If the corporate leadership is wholly committed to the process, it has a far greater chance of succeeding. Having said that, we have seen some amazing beacons of light where an inspiring manager has created a healthy sub-culture in an otherwise “dark” corporation. Sometimes that can even spread into other departments.
- Expect Resistance (yes, even sabotage!). Those that have risen to positions of power will have done so on their ability to excel under the rules of the current system. They will be afraid that their abilities may not serve them as well in the new culture.
- Invest in managers’ interpersonal skills and leadership abilities.
- Consider replacing managers that are simply not capable with those that are. Ultimately they’ll be happier, you’ll be happier and their reports will be happier.
- Consider a change of scenery to begin to seed new ways of being within your culture. A professionally facilitated offsite can allow you and your team the space to shift your attitudes and explore new roles.
- Begin introducing small, well thought out changes that support the attributes you desire. Any change to the status quo creates new possibilities. It is always easier to change direction once you are in motion.
As you can see, keeping loyal staff is not just a quick fix. But the payoff for this kind of investment in your culture has never been higher. There are some simple steps you can take to get started and, if you wish, we can help you along the way. Contact us or check out our website