Dear Workforce Apart from Cash, What Are Some Effective Retention Tools

By Staff Report

Dec. 3, 2004

Dear Homegrown:

Forget the one-size-fits-all retention strategy. Instead, realize that the ultimate goal is to retain one focused, motivated worker at a time. The best retention efforts include a mix of personally tailored elements, in addition to the usual programmed fare.

One of the cheapest, most effective and most underutilized practices is re-recruitment. This refers to a regimen of planned measures aimed at engaging the new employee from the beginning.

Some examples:

  • Once candidates accept a job, make sure they receive selected pieces of intra-company communication, including employee handbooks and benefits information but also information on what makes the brand of your company unique.

  • Talk with new employees during their first day on the job to make sure the relevance of the work is understood, including how it fits within the organization. Toward the end of that first day, spend a few minutes answering any questions they may have, and learn the name of anyone who has been particularly helpful that day, so you can thank that person appropriately.

  • After about two weeks, ask a manager at least two levels higher on the organizational chart to spend a few minutes with each new employee. This affirms the person’s decision to come to work for your organization and provides support and encouragement.

  • After 45 days, review performance expectations with new employees, asking for candid self-assessment. Be sure to coach as necessary.

Other retention measures generally fall into one of four categories: financial, personal support, family support and career support.

In addition to cash, consider non-cash financial retention measures. If your company is publicly held, these could include the use of stock incentives distributed as options, grants or appreciation rights. Other financial measures might include targeted reimbursements for things such as automobiles, home-based personal computers, education and recreation.

Personal Support
One of the most precious commodities is time–in particular, time off from work. The use of periodic lump-sum vacation bonuses and sabbaticals has become a retention mainstay for many organizations. Similarly, affording employees the opportunity to telecommute is also a valuable time-saver.

Family Support
Increasingly, decisions about whether to change jobs hinge on factors having to do with employees’ families. Accordingly, many organizations are revisiting provisions for child care, elder care and health care.

Career Support
Decisions about staying in a job or leaving it frequently come down to whether the organization, through its leaders, takes an acute personal interest in the individual. This interest manifests itself through measures such as regular and honest appraisal discussions, personal coaching, personalized development plans, and support for personally initiated projects and interests.

SOURCE: Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette, co-authors, Contented Cows Give Better Milk,, December 31, 2003.

LEARN MORE:Truths and Myths of Work/Life Balance.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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