Companies have been so focused on getting rid of workers in an
of downsizing that some have forgotten how to hang on to them when
they need to.
The result is that many companies are now facing a crisis quite
opposite one they wrestled with a few years ago. Rather than
trimming the payroll to beef up profitability in the short term,
need to keep more people on board to prevent their bottom lines from
taking a dive.
But that's trickier to do in a work environment in which workers
have begun to discover they have power and choices.
Unemployment is at all-time lows, and so is loyalty, said Lynn
Ware, president of Integral Training Systems, a national consulting
and training firm based in the San Francisco Bay area. Companies,
particularly technology-based ones, have been coming to firms such
hers to relearn the principles of employee retention.
"There's a wave beginning to happen," said Ware, who has noticed
heightened awareness of this issue in the past year. "Companies
realize they too have to be concerned about people leaving." In the
information-technology industry, for example, one in 10 positions is
open, she said. And people report that they are being called at
least once or twice a week by headhunters.
A year ago, Ware was still running across the persistent attitude
that "there are always people standing at the door to replace those
that leave," she said. In addition, employers had the mind-set that
attrition was inevitable and they couldn't do anything about it, she
said. "They figured, why bother?"
But cutting attrition rates by even a few percent "can be a
phenomenal drop to the bottom line," Ware said. It saves companies
money directly by reducing the costs of training, recruiting and
relocating new employees.
It also results in indirect savings. People who are leaving tend
to be less productive, she said. And vacant positions represent lost
There are steps companies can take to bolster retention. "Up to
75 percent of why people are not staying has to do with factors that
are in the control of managers," Ware said.
There are several factors that correlate with employee commitment.
The first is achievement. "People don't want to stay where they
feel like they're losing," she said.
People need a sense that they are winning at their job. Managers
should take care to make sure they are tailoring assignments to
insure a good fit between a person's skills and the project or task,
she said. …