An American Crisis: Attracting, Retaining & Motivating Employees

There is an alarming crisis in America that could affect your corporation, agency or association — a diminishing ability to survive. Downsizing and reengineering have not only cut out the fat, but also the employees that were once the lifeblood of your organization. Take the opportunity to flourish by paying your employees more than money!

There indeed is a dangerous crisis in America today. It has nothing to do with global warming or the latest computer virus. Rather, we’re referring to the alarmingly diminishing ability of organizations – in every sector of our society – to survive.

At a time of intense global competition, most corporations, government agencies and non-profit associations alike have exhausted whatever efficiency and cost-cutting improvements there were to be extracted from reengineering and downsizing. And, many have found that they have cut, not only the fat, but also much of their muscle (or even lifeblood), that is – their best employees.

However, as they now look to replenish, preserve & nourish this blood & muscle, they are faced with a Generation X work force 40% smaller (and much more demanding) than the Baby Boomers – and the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years!

Also, employee loyalty is down, way down. According to a 1998 survey conducted by Sibson & Company, 55% of employees plan to quit or think often of quitting. In fact, the most frequently asked question put to the Society of Human Resource Management is: “How can we keep talent from jumping to our competitors?”

Fortunately, every crisis contains in it – not only danger – but also opportunity. This article shares with you the secret to transforming this dangerous crisis into an opportunity for your organization to flourish!

Based on our research and work with employers across the country, we have identified the distinguishing traits of organizations that attract, retain and motivate the best employees. In a nutshell:

  1. The pay ain’t bad
  2. And they treat employees GREAT!

Recent landmark studies confirm what theoreticians and management gurus such as Abraham Maslow, Frederick Hertzberg and Peter Drucker – have maintained for decades:

  • Money is a necessary – but not sufficient condition – to attract, retain and motivate good employees. You and I will go to work for a paycheck and benefits plan. But we won’t really do work (at least our best work), unless something else is present.
  • It is the quality of the work itself and of our relationships with others at work – that draws us to the best organizations and keeps us there, performing at peak effectiveness.

Recently, the Families and Work Institute published the National Study of the Changing Workforce – the most comprehensive research ever conducted in this area. They found that, while Earnings & Benefits have only a 2% impact on job Satisfaction, Job Quality and Workplace Support have a combined 70% impact. That’s a 35 times greater bang for the buck! (Though, in the case of Job Quality and Workplace Support, it’s an intangible, symbolic “buck”.)

And, the findings were similar for factors impacting: Employee Loyalty, Retention and Performance. For Performance, however, Job Demands (that is stress factors such as overtime and deadlines) have a negative impact – comparable to the positive impact of either Job Quality or Workplace Support.

But let’s suppose that employee retention is not a problem for your organization … and you’re not convinced that employee satisfaction has much impact on the bottom line. Then consider this. A recent survey conducted by the Gallup organization researched the Impact of Employee Attitudes on Business Outcomes. They found that organizations, where employees have above average attitudes toward their work (that is, high employee satisfaction), have:

  • 38% higher customer satisfaction scores
  • 22% higher productivity, and
  • 27% higher profits!

Satisfying employees, by ensuring that they have meaningful work and are treated well, is not only a nice thing to do; it makes good business sense.

So, if you want to transform the danger into an opportunity for your organization to flourish – and make money – pay your employees with more than just money!

For specific ways to “treat employees great”, see the sidebar: Grimme’s Top 10 Tips to Attract, Retain & Motivate Employees.

Don Grimme is one America’s leading training experts and authorities on reducing turnover and attracting excellent job candidates. For information on his firm, GHR Training Solutions, visit

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