The Beatings Won’t Stop Until the Morale Improves

Many downsized businesses expect their remaining workforce to work the jobs of two to three people. If employers want to retain those employees, they need to provide a flexible work environment — in spite of the economy.

You can almost feel the anxiety and tension many people face in today’s workplace. People comment, “Am I going to have a job tomorrow?” “If my boss gives me another project, I’ll quit!” The present economic situation has forced many employees to work longer hours. Many downsized businesses expect their remaining workforce to work the jobs of 2-3 people. People can only take so much. Good employees who feel “burned” by their organizations will be the first to bail out when the economy turns around in the future. Productivity, profits and retention go hand-in-hand. Despite the economy, people today need a work environment that allows for maximum flexibility. A flexible work environment promotes greater productivity, increases retention and creates more dedicated workers. All this together should positively impact the bottom line. Consider the following:

  • Employees who like where they work will help the company make more money. An 800-store survey conducted by Sears showed that when employee attitudes improved by 5 percent, customer satisfaction jumped 1.3 percent, consequently increasing revenue by one-half a percentage point. Employee attitudes impact the bottom line!
  • First Tennessee National Corp. started taking family issues seriously and made them top priority. They reshaped the rules they had forced employees to live under, added many family-friendly new benefits, and sent managers through 3-1/2 days of training. Employees stayed twice as long and the bank kept 7 percent more of its customers. Furthermore, changes in employee benefits helped contribute a 55 percent profit gain over two years.
  • Aetna Life & Casualty Co. reduced resignations of new mothers by 50 percent by extending its unpaid parental leave policy to six months, saving the company $1 million a year in training, recruiting and hiring expenses.

First, focus on paying your employees well and creating a stimulating, rewarding environment. Next, improve the quality of the relationship between the employee and his or her supervisor. A relationship that is not good will cause conflict and low productivity eventually persuades a good employee to leave. When these elements are in place, turn your attention to benefits. Benefits have increased in importance to help counterbalance the complex needs and wants of the workforce. In 1960, businesses spent $23.7 billion on benefits. In 1980, they spent $266 billion and in 1994 businesses increased their spending on benefits to $747 billion. Smart employers are realizing that the plain vanilla, take-it-or-leave-it approach may diminish their ability to attract and keep good workers as well as place current employees in a position to question their loyalty and dedication to stay. 

A survey from Randstad North America and Roper Research demonstrates the impact that “hard” and “soft” benefits have on people staying with their current job. When asked, “Would consider staying in current job rather than switch, if. . . “

Hard Benefits: 

  • You have health insurance/benefits-70% 
  • You receive competitive industry wages-59% 
  • Your workplace provides on-site/internal training-50% 
  • Your workplace provides opportunity for outside training opportunities-45% 
  • Your workplace provides a stock/profit sharing program-38% 
  • Your workplace gives bonuses based on company profits-37% 
  • Your workplace provides college tuition reimbursement-37% 
  • Your workplace has an employee award/recognition program-30% 
  • Your workplace provides creative incentives, such as trips or gift certificates-24% 

Soft benefits: 

  • You like the team of people you work with-71% 
  • There is a pleasant work environment-68% 
  • Your workplace is close to home or you have an easy commute-68% 
  • The work you do is challenging-65% 
  • You have job security where you work-65% 
  • Your workplace gives you the opportunity to work independently-59% 
  • Your workplace provides opportunity for advancement-55% 
  • Your workplace offers flexible work hours-54% 


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