by William (Bill) Eade, Director Human Resources
What I have learned over many years in HR is that employee retention is a huge concern for companies, no matter what size they are. “Retention”, in fact, has become everyone’s favourite new buzzword.
Now, we HR folks know that retention isn’t simple. It is a “package” process, made up of everything from total rewards to company culture, from onboarding to succession planning.
Some companies have Mission Statements, Vision Statements, and Company Value Statements. These statements are sometimes written in executive offices and boardrooms (sometimes in different countries around the globe) and shared down through the ranks. The purpose of these statements is well intentioned. They are often a philosophical approach to employee governance and, in most cases, are needed to align their business values. Often though, they “miss the mark” in conveying their intention.
Let’s talk a little about how this can affect retention of employees and how we can break down the HR retention segments into smaller, more manageable pieces.
Rewards and Recognition
If we look at rewards and recognition, for example, we already know that it is a difficult tight rope to walk. What is happily accepted as a reward for some employees is demeaning to and lowers the morale of other employees.
Companies are usually under budget constraints, and throwing large sums of money at employees, project teams, and overall business success is usually not an option. And, even if it is, some employees are not looking for this type of recognition. I have seen employers reward with company swag and watched employees wear their new coat or golf shirt with pride, proudly showing off their new attire. I have also purposely visited local clothing charities, visited local online sales groups soon after this type of recognition at the place of employment and, to my surprise, have seen many of the ‘rewards’ being donated or up for sale.
We do know that recognition to one employee is positive reinforcement of their work (pat on the back), and that same recognition to another employee draws a negative response (slap in the face). So, this begs the question, what do we as a company or business do to recognize employees so that the recognition conveys the intention and is well-received? How do we align business statements with our culture?
Know Your Company Culture
Know your culture. That seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But what does it mean? It means that you should know what is important to your employees, what do they value? what do they want? what is your culture telling you is important?
Many years ago, recognition was about the money, and still is today to some extent. But it’s no longer all about the money. We are learning that time off, flexible hours, and other nonmonetary things are just as important, and sometimes more so.
Investing the time from senior executive levels to front line supervision in order to learn what your company culture really is, what is valued, and what is important to the organization is what is needed. Sending out surveys can be useful but can also be double edge sword if you do not do anything with the information collected. Employees are often heard asking, “what ever become of that survey I filled out months ago?”.
The best way to gather information is to train and educate owners, CEO’s, , managers, and supervisors to converse as much as possible with employees, to learn as much as possible about individuals, segments, project teams and even demographics. Then we can learn what forms of recognition will be valued, and which will not.
Ultimately, using reward and recognition will help retain employees.
Let me know your thoughts or questions on learning your company culture or any other link in the retention chain.
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