Last September, I was in a session focused on succession management in Galveston. As the presenters talked about employee agreements, non-competes, and other “golden handcuffs” approaches, I scribbled in my journal, “there’s a more positive approach to this.” Truly, there is – one that doesn’t require you to ridiculously escalate pay and benefits or rack up lots of chargeable hours with your general counsel.
This isn’t to say that pay and benefits aren’t important or that you should abandon documentation around employee-employer relationships, but out of seven retention drivers reported by Towers Watson in a landmark Global Workforce Study, only one fell into the batch of approaches I heard that Sunday afternoon (base pay/salary). The others are: (1) career advancement opportunities, (2) relationship with supervisor/manager, (3) trust/confidence in senior leadership, (4) job security, (5) length of commute, and (6) manage/limit work-related stress.
Now you can’t do much about the geography between where your businesses sit and where your employees live, but a few words on the balance may be instructive.
Career Advancement Opportunities. We appreciate this may be a tad challenging, especially for smaller organizations. You hired someone to perform a specific role. You don’t move them around much after hire. Your senior leadership, in fact, is very stable. In sum, there’s not much room for individual development very fast.
If that sounds familiar, think cross-training. There will come a time when someone you count on will be unavailable to you – vacations, illness, family emergencies. Seek out where/when you can let someone do something they don’t normally do. It’ll pay off and provide you some depth in critical tasks when the time comes.
Another growth tactic is to allow your folks to represent you at local civic and government events. Prepare them for that opportunity, sure, but the growth you’re likely to see will be tangible. As an example, we’re working with a community bank in the metro-Toledo (Ohio) area and competing one of their younger officers in the Toledo 20-Under-40 competition. She’ll be able to benchmark herself against professionals in other industries and market her community bank – all in one neat package.
Rather than a bigger paycheck, these cost some time and attention. Speaking of that…
Relationship with Supervisors/Managers. A recent Florida State University study found that 37% of employees experienced a boss taking credit for others’ accomplishments and 27% discovered their supervisors talking negatively about them to other organizational leaders. The old adage is true – “employees don’t leave companies – they leave bosses.” Wonder why? We don’t. How much is that negative or outright toxic leader costing you in retention? Probably more than they’re worth. Rehabilitate or get rid of them. Seriously.
Trust and Confidence in Senior Leadership. If you’re a CEO or President and haven’t visited with every employee face-to-face within the last quarter, you’re overdue. If you walk into any area of your business and the whispers involve something like, “who is that?”, you’re in trouble. Lead from your feet, not from your seat.
A colleague of ours who did research on trust in virtual organizations found that our basis for trusting others is different, depending on whether we engage with them face-to-face or at distance. “Distant” trust is based almost exclusively on the results we see while we more often apply the “benefit of the doubt” when trusting people face-to-face. It’s harder to trust what/who we don’t see.
By the way, all of this has significant impact on engendering job security and reducing work-related stress, other retention drivers according to Towers Watson.
Want to economically and more positively increase retention? We hope you’ll give us a call.