Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Retaining Staff

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Retaining Staff

Article excerpt

Every era has its own buzzwords to communicate the hottest concept of the day. In the corporate America of the '90s, words like "restructuring," "downsizing," "consolidating," and "reorganizing" bring fear and insecurity to employees as quickly as rumors of mergers, buyouts, or divestitures of non-core business units.

The objective of these activities is to reduce costs in order to increase bottom-line profitability, enabling companies to successfully compete and survive in the new world economy.

However, a significant component of this "new management paradigm" must be to motivate and retain the employees left standing after the dust settles. For those who remain, the greatest challenge today is to maintain productivity, profitability, and morale in a "lean and mean" environment where job security is a distant memory.

Caring Is Key

As the demand for staff quantity declines, the pressure to find and keep quality workers increases proportionally. Even in a downsizing environment, we can anticipate that the best of our staff will regularly receive offers and opportunities from our competitors. The challenge for employers is clear; what can we do today and every day, so that our best employees will gladly stay where they are?

Many corporations have responded aggressively to this challenge with a dramatic increase in amenities - on-site child care, flexible hours, 401-K plans, casual dress, telecommuting options, employee cafeterias, fitness centers, and many, many more.

While these amenities provide conveniences and financial benefits to employees, they fail to address an equally important component of employee retention - a sense that the company actually "cares about me as a person." In spite of all the mission statements, strategic planning, and target objectives promoted by companies, what often really counts with staff is working in a place where "everyone is really nice" and in spite of the demands and pressures of the job, they still feel a sense that "it's a lot of fun." For satisfied employees, these are the responses most often given when asked "How's work going?" Those less enthralled usually begin their comments with something like "My boss is a real #@*&#!!"

The Company That Plays Together...

During the last fifteen years, I have had the wonderful privilege of working in some very positive company environments that made a sincere effort to communicate a caring attitude to their staff. From these experiences, I have compiled a list of several programs, events, and activities that were used successfully to bring that "added dimension" to the work environment.

Informal Staff Dinners. Meals at a nearby restaurant coupled with a sporting event were some memorable occasions. Planned several weeks in advance, the evening began at a casual eatery followed by a pro hockey, basketball, football, or baseball game. Perhaps once every year or two, rent a suite at the stadium, and cater in dinner. For great action and letting your hair down, try a semi-pro hockey game if you have a team in your city. Here's a shocker - go bowling; rent two alleys, set up teams, and compete!

Spring or Fall Picnic. Establish an annual custom with a picnic/outing at a park or a ranch with swimming, volleyball, karoake, and even horseback riding. Either take a half-day off, if possible, or select a weekend day. If possible, include employees' families to really get to know your staff as they are outside the work environment.

Holiday Parties. Have an annual party in a home or at a hotel, include dinner or just dessert, maybe have a band. If possible, include dates and spouses. In some cases, your clients and/or vendors may contribute toward the cost.

Special Events. Go to a play, musical, ballet, or noon or evening lecture series. Take families and children to the "Nutcracker," Ice Capades, circus, or symphony. Rent a paddle wheeler river boat (perhaps with other companies), or go to a lake and rent a couple of ski boats and/or houseboats. …

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