Here Today Gone Tomorrow

Every industry in the nation wants answers on how to improve workforce retention and make their employees more productive. Find out about some of the most important issues related to employee retention.

Liecom Company was having a tough time finding skilled workers. For months they searched for a graphic designer and then they discovered Mary. Mary recently finished her degree graduating at the top of her class. She was conscientious, hard working and looked forward to starting at Liecom. Mary received several offers from other companies, but she liked what the recruiter told her about Liecom. The recruiter promised her a signing bonus, rapid acceleration, a team work environment and great opportunities for personal and professional development. However, after two weeks on the job her opinion changed.

On several occasions she was left back to answer the phones while the rest of the department went out to lunch together. One morning, Barry, her supervisor, chewed her out in front of her co-workers. A few days later she was turned down for a training course because she was a “new employee.” Mary, once bright and motivated now had taken on a different attitude. At the end of the month Mary turned in her resignation telling Barry she had gotten another job offer at higher pay somewhere else.

What’s Wrong With the Story?
Every industry in the nation wants answers on how to improve workforce retention and make their employees more productive. These industries span the gap from high-tech down to greenhouses and hardware stores. The work environment is dramatically different than it was just two years ago. Consider some of the important issues surrounding the retention issue:

Worker Shortage – The days of worker surplus are over. The businesses that have the mindset that people are expendable resources are the ones that experience low productivity and higher turnover. As managers we must focus on keeping the employees you have, not about constantly replacing them. The need for new ways of managing people will continue as long as unemployment remains at historically low figures. For example, the food industry recently predicted their personnel shortages:

“We employ 11 million people now, and we’re going to need more,” says Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “We’re projecting a need for another 2 million by 2010. Our biggest concern is where to find these folks.”

The Financial Cost of Turnover – Reports indicated that it costs anywhere from $5,000-$10,000 to replace a worker who leaves. One technical company in Silicon Valley estimates it costs them an average of $125,000 when an employee leaves.

Work Ethic – Boardrooms across America complain about the lack of work ethics in the younger workforce. Many managers say you have to hire two people to get the work of one person. In a recent article on the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the manager of Zoo Atlanta is quoted in saying, “The biggest problem I’ve had is scheduling. It’s useless. They tell me when they want to work and when they don’t. They show up when they want and leave when they want. No shows are common. And it’s not uncommon for a worker to clock out for lunch and not return. I feel powerless to do anything about it.”

Job Satisfaction versus Money – Money and benefits are important, but it takes more than money to keep good workers from leaving. The Families and Work Institute published the National Study of the Changing Workforce. The report showed that earnings and benefits have only a 2 percent impact on “Job Satisfaction.” “Job Quality” and “Workplace Support” have a combined 70% impact. That is 35 times greater than earning and benefits. I will show my readers how to improve job satisfaction and not have to be the highest paying employers.

Happy Employees Lead to Higher Productivity and Profits -The Gallup organization showed where employees who have an above average attitude toward their work the company would have:

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

The Work Environment Is Critical – One-third of the executives surveyed by Robert Half International Inc. now say that the work environment is the most critical factor in keeping an employee satisfied in today’s business world. This is up from 1993 when only 9% said the work environment was an important factor.

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