Newsletter Archive - HR / Personnel
Creating a Winning Employee Retention Strategy
05/12/2005 - By Tina Barden, Hawthorne Executive Search
How many times have you heard the old adage that a company, a business, is only as good as it people? If that is true isn't it critical for businesses to develop a retention strategy for holding on to the employees you've worked hard to recruit, train, and develop in your company?
While all of this sounds logical, many small businesses overlook this critical component in their human resources program. For example, a recent Watson Wyatt survey indicated that more than 50 percent of the responding companies said they didn't have a formal strategy for retaining employees once they had been successfully recruited, hired, and trained.
Why is that? I think the answer may lie in a misperception about what factors actually drive retention.
Most business owners and managers think retention is based on compensation issues--wage and salary levels, incentives, and using non-compete handcuffs, when in reality, the real drivers are the actions and attitudes that business demonstrates towards its employees which makes then feel successful, secure and appreciated. Therefore, we always recommend that a sound retention strategy should focus on and tactically address four key elements--performance, communication, loyalty and competitive advantage.
1. Performance. Measurable objectives are a key for driving performance, especially in the Yellow Pages industry which is so heavily driven by sales and marketing. This is an obvious concept that has been well documented and repeatedly proven true for many years. People have a deep desire to know that their talents and roles are an intricate part of the company's success. However, we've noticed that performance is often not linked with employee retention strategies. We've been surprised at the number of candidates that indicate it has been years since their last performance review. An individual that feels that they are making a difference in the company's success, gains a sense themselves, of belonging and a sense that the company's success is their own.
People will perform at their optimum when striving for an objective or an accomplishment. It is important that every employee have clear and measurable objectives that allow the employee to gauge personal, team, and company accomplishments. This gives a person the sense that they're making valuable contributions and accomplishing desirable goals.
2. Communication. The second and perhaps one of the most important keys to maintaining good employees is communication. Good communications are structured to keep the employee feeling that their individual contributions are appreciated and do have an impact. Good communications not only informs and instructs, but also emphasizes with the employee that goals/objectives can be accomplished. Communication has to be a two way street. If executed correctly, communication with your staff can be comfortable and informative for both of you and will provide you with the insights you need in order to know how your employees feel about working for your business.
How do you get the employee to be confident and comfortable enough to be open and honest about how they feel about their performance, the company and their work environment? Regular meetings? Is the communication channel non-intimidating to offer a more open two-way communication relationship? Is there an anonymous or non-threatening option for the employee to offer suggestions or to state issues they may be having with the company or an individual? Surveys are a great way to handle gathering information, comments, suggestions, and getting an overall feel of employee satisfaction. Have you trained your managers to be good listeners?
If you keep the communication lines open and an open sensitive ear, it will be easy for you to keep a handle on morale and employee satisfaction. By doing this it will allow you to address issues before they become problems.
3. Loyalty. The third key in keeping a good staff is loyalty. True loyalty is not an enforced requirement but something that is earned by the trust, respect and commitment shown to the individuals in your company. When you demonstrate loyalty to your employees, or anyone for that matter, they'll reciprocate with commitment and loyalty to you and your business. People generally don't begin their employment with you as loyal employees, but rather develop it over time as they see that it is reciprocated. This can be shown to the employee by letting them know that they are trusted, respected and appreciated by you.
Some questions to consider: How do you show your loyalty to your employees? Are you more concerned about their success or with what they are doing to contribute to the company's success? The truth of the matter is that, these two considerations are both important and should work together.
4. Competitive advantage. The fourth and final element in the strategy to retain employees has to do with your company's competitive advantage. It is human nature to want to work for a winner. What makes your company unique? How is the company (essentially, your employees) setting themselves apart in the industry, in the community, and in the customers eyes? Just as it is important to distinguish your uniqueness and competitive advantage with your customers, the same should be done with your employees. In cases where there are competitors with similar services/or products in the marketplace, your customer service can be what distinguishes you. People want to be on the #1 team, and that includes employees.
Hopefully these four elements can provide you with a quick checklist of items that help drive great employee retention and a good company culture. You may even have pieces of this strategy already in place and just need a check-up. In order for it to work, you must have an integration of all four of these elements. If done with a long-term genuine commitment by yourself, it has proven to be a success for both your employees and your customers.
About Hawthorne Executive Search
Hawthorne Executive Search, formerly known as Yellow Pages Recruiting.com is a full service executive search and consultancy focused strictly on the advertising, publishing and media industries. With decades of experience, Hawthorne Executive Search is an executive search and management firm that has assisted companies of all sizes in the recruitment and selection of top talent across North America and beyond. Every assignment managed by our firm includes the involvement of a principal, experienced in helping clients build high performance management teams.
With contacts on all levels of the organizational chart, from the senior management or "C" level, to field sales representatives and account executives, we have a database of over 5,000 professionals who are either currently or formerly employed in the directory industry.
By focusing strictly on one industry, there isn't a search outside of our comfort zone. We are able to execute most projects within 2-3 weeks from inception.
Some examples of successfully completed searches include:
- Regional Sales Manager
- Senior Vice President of Client Services
- Production Manager
- National Account Manager
- Vice President of Sales
- Vice President of Business Development
- Account Supervisor
- Media Planner
- Managing Director
With a commitment to the Yellow Page industry, our specialization enables us to maintain a 95% completion rate for all engaged projects we undertake.
Please feel free to contact us at:
Tina Barden -- 910-798-1800
Robert Hawthorne -- 910-798-1800
Ken Clark -- 919-557-7502
Hawthorne Executive Search