An Employee Retention Culture

An Employee Retention Culture

March 28, 2022

Do you have an employee retention culture? Finding and keeping employees is exceptionally tough at present. Some are working remotely and being poached by employers in another state, others are listening to the pundits saying that employment is a seller’s market. A few are just worn out from 2 years of restrictions and looking for a change.

Regardless of the reason, inflation, and the “great resignation” are impacting employment. Businesses are experiencing rising coasts too, but employees are rightfully more concerned about fuel and supermarket sticker shock than their employers’ gross margins.

The reality is that you can’t just give out cost-of-living wage increases every time the gas station marquees put up a higher number. That doesn’t mean you can ignore the impact of inflation on consumer prices, but you should be looking at the alternatives every employer has besides pay rates. In any company, the best defense is an employee retention culture.

The Social Network

If you ask employees what is most important about their job, they will invariably answer “the paycheck.” In well-constructed surveys, however, social interaction and a sense of purpose rank much higher than pay rates as reasons an employee stays on the job.

Thanks to the Internet, an employee’s social network today is far broader than just colleagues at the office or on the job site. Still, roughly a third of every employee’s waking hours are spent with those people, and encouraging relationships with coworkers is an effective tool in retention.

I facilitate several business owner peer groups, and one just discussed their socialization efforts at length. Here are some ideas.

Employee appreciation days where food is provided. Most do this regularly. Some invite food trucks and pay the tab. Department supervisors have budgets for quarterly outings (bowling, miniature golf) with their teams.

Team sportswear is a popular benefit. Some companies have a vendor catalog and give employees an allowance to purchase what they prefer.

Social events like picnics and sporting competitions are widespread. Make sure there is identifiable clothing (usually T-shirts) for participants, and allow them to be worn to work. Form lots of committees to plan company events.

Have regular meetings for the purpose of introducing new employees. Encourage folks to talk about their tenure with the company on their anniversaries. Put balloons at their desks on birthdays.

A Sense of Purpose

Can employees get behind your mission? It’s one thing to say that you make great products and give customers terrific service, but what does it say about the people who make it possible?

Do your core values mention employees other than in a de riguer footnote (“We cherish our employees who make it all possible”) usually found right above or below the “value” of profitability.

Employees today want to feel that they are spending 1/3 of their waking hours on something important. Are you giving them a “big picture” view of how they contribute to the community through their jobs?

One family business I work with was tapped to make a component for a COVID test kit. Everyone in the company is happily working long hours and canceling vacations to rise to the occasion.

One employer has an employee committee for choosing a charity each month. Employees submit their favorite charity to the committee, which chooses which to support that month. The company matches employee contributions, uses a big check for the donation pictures, and has event T-shirts made for everyone who contributed.

Employee Retention Culture

One employer has a great way to recognize that being short-handed is a burden on everyone who is working there. Each month they take the salaries of the vacant positions and divide them among the others in the department.

Let’s face it, the best way to remain fully staffed is not to lose them in the first place. The expectations of employees towards their employers have changed. Make sure you are changing too.