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Ten Ways to Improve Your Employee Retention Efforts
By Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette

In last month's Fresh Milk article devoted to employee recruiting, we noted that despite a softening economy and deepening financial crisis, the issue of finding and keeping good talent remains on lots of minds. And it should, because no business can remain competitive in good times, or bad, without the willing engagement of a focused, fired up, capably led workforce.

Here are some ideas about keeping the commitment and engagement of talented people once you've found them and reeled them into the boat.

1. Conduct employee surveys, and make the results part of your business metrics. We're constantly perplexed by the number of organizations whose leaders talk about the value of feedback, but fail to apply that value to their workforce. It doesn't have to be expensive or burdensome. But if you want to learn where your leadership and organizational practices are hitting the bull's eye, and where they're out in left field, there's no better way than a regular process of collecting employee feedback. To read in more detail about how to effectively use employee surveys, read this.

2. Make sure everyone understands, and can articulate, why (and how) their job matters. This may mean creating opportunities to demonstrate, graphically, or through experience, why that Clerk Level III job in A/R is so important. Similarly, make sure that all hands on deck (no exceptions) have direct contact with real, paying customers from time to time.

3. Provide some work that lets people see the needle move. Some jobs are naturally rich in instant gratification. Others, not so much. Ensure that everyone occasionally gets the chance to do work that makes a real, palpable, visible, difference.

4. Offer tuition reimbursement and encourage people to use it. The opportunity to learn and grow has proven to be one of the greatest "sticky variables" in influencing talented and committed people to put down roots. It also returns an obvious benefit to the organization, in the form of a more educated workforce.

5. Institute flexible and non-traditional work arrangements when possible. These should include:
a. Flexible hours that meet both the needs of the individual and the business.
b. Part-time positions, including for professional jobs. And don't scrimp on benefits eligibility or training for these folks!
c. Job sharing.
d. Paying people for the work they do, not the amount of time it takes them to it.

6. Make room for telecommuting, when appropriate. Telecommuting has some clear advantages, but it is certainly NOT for everybody (or even most.) It is smart, however, at the very least, to set things up so that some people can work from home in unusual circumstances - bad weather (can you spell hurricane?), or when they, or a family member is sick. Establish clear ground rules, fortify your communications modes, and hold people accountable regardless of where they are domiciled.

7. Encourage people to periodically join together in worthwhile "good works" or charitable causes. Build a Habitat for Humanity house or raise funds for a cause that your people deem important. Establish systems (e.g., paid time off banks or emergency funds) whereby employees can help one another out in times of personal crisis.

8. Effort is personal, and so is effective recognition. Find out from each person, individually, what their recognition preferences are, and if they are being met.

9. Get to know (really know) your people. Learn their names, and something about everyone in your company, or at least in your location. You ought to be able to do this for up to about 250 people, if not more.

10. Acknowledge the birthdays, anniversaries, special accomplishments, etc., of your employees, and their family members. We've sent birthday and thank-you cards to people for years, and nobody has EVER complained, or sent one of them back.

Looking for an 11th item on the list? How about if you provide it? Email us with your best idea for employee retention. We'll post the best responses on our blog (link to blog), and send a copy of our latest book, Contented Cows MOOVE Faster.


Want a more engaged workforce? Want the performance benefits of creating a great place to work? Bring Bill Catlette or Richard Hadden in to speak or conduct leadership training for your organization, or to keynote your association's next convention.

Contact Geoff Knue at 317-873-0011 or to find out how we can make your next meeting a colossal success!

Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
Contented Cow Partners, LLC

phone: 904-720-0870
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