A survey developed by Robert Half International and independently conducted with 100 Canadian senior executives between September 15 and October 15, 2008 stated that 35% of the senior executives had employee retention as their greatest staffing concern.
Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, states "Companies that lose top performers may not only experience declines in productivity but also incur significant costs in replacing these professionals."
Furthermore, two additional recent studies have shown that smart organizations are investing in employee retention and engagement to weather the current recession. According to Douglas Matthews, President and CEO of Right Management, one-third of North American companies are planning to reduce their employees this year, but the other two-thirds are planning to "develop the employees they have to meet current and future needs so they can respond quickly to changing market demands and remain competitive."
These forward-thinking employers are seeking ways to keep their employees engaged so they don't become disengaged workers.
The other report, Hewitt Associates' annual 50 Best Employers, states that "Businesses that invest in employees and have high employee engagement have a competitive advantage in their ability to make it through a recession." These companies will emerge from the recession stronger and healthier unlike the companies whose workforce has been decimated.
Here are 7 tactics for retaining your employees through these times of confusion and uncertainty:
1. Communicate effectively with your employees. This is the most critical tactic of all. Assumptions and speculations are deadly to employee morale and the health of the organization. Nip rumors in the bud by being honest with your employees about what is happening in the organization. Encourage your workers to share their concerns with you and in turn share your concerns with them. This fosters openness and trust between all parties involved.
2. Search for ways to redeploy employees. It doesn't make sense, financially or otherwise, to get rid of valuable employees during an economic downturn. When the recession is over you will need to replace these workers and at what cost? Instead, shift these workers to other areas that are still performing well. You will demonstrate your loyalty to them, garner their loyalty to you, and retain valuable company assets. Employees that leave companies take valuable knowledge with them.
3. Make wiser choices when hiring employees and managers. Consider the corporate culture that this prospective employee or manager must fit into and determine if there is a match. Utilize various personality assessments that are available to you. Doing so will ensure that not only will the employee/manager match the company's expectations but the company will match the employee's or manager's expectations. After all, a square peg doesn't fit easily into a round hole.
4. Be an effective, ethical leader. A well-known study published by Florida State University in Fall 2007 issue of The Leadership Quarterly stated that:
* 39% of workers said their supervisor failed to keep promises
* 37% indicated their supervisor failed to give credit when due
* 31% said their supervisor gave them the "silent treatment" during the past year
* 27% report their supervisor made negative comments about them to other employees or managers
* 24% indicated their boss invaded their privacy
* 23% said their supervisor blamed others to cover up personal mistakes or minimize embarrassment
In essence, employees don't leave bad companies - they leave bad bosses. Make sure you are not one of them!
5. Be a great motivator, innovator, and leader. Inspire your employees to achieve great things. Believe in their capabilities. Encourage them often to stretch out of their comfort zones. Listen to their ideas and implement them. In a nutshell, champion them and they will champion you and the company.
6. Treat employees fairly and respectfully. Your employees are your company's best asset and you must protect and nurture them. Whether you know it or not, you are in the business of growing people. Let them know how valuable their contributions are to the company. Honor your commitments to them. Create a learning environment for them where they, and you, can achieve the highest potential.
7. Provide alternate work schedules. Some companies have implemented programs for flexible hours, telecommuting, job sharing, four-day work weeks, and transportation subsidies. This allows employees to gain greater control over how, where, and when they work which leads to better work/life balance and helps to retain them.
Employers who are able to minimize their employee turnover during this recession period are going to emerge from it stronger and healthier than those companies whose employees have defected. Do everything you can to make sure that you keep your employees happy, engaged, and productive. Your company depends on it.