Critical Employee Loss Prevention

A recent article in The Kiplinger Letter points out that companies should be alert to losing critical employees in this current economy and that some savvy companies are already trying to pick off the cream of the crop. Additionally, when the job market improves, more workers will gratefully seize the opportunity to jump ship.

Few companies are immune. Surveys show that 20% of workers want to switch jobs as soon as they can. The cost of replacing an employee….lost productivity, recruitment and training…is three times annual pay.

Now is the time for companies to take preventive measures. Waiting until a worker you depend on has an offer from another firm means you’ve waited too long.

Some relatively easy and low cost steps:

  1. Show you care…demonstrate appreciation Offer flexible hours and telecommuting options. Say “thanks” and “well done” whenever they’re deserved. Give some extra days off. Other inexpensive options: Gift cards and discounts on your own firm’s products.
  2. Take an interest in career goals and emphasize opportunities to move ahead.
  3. Keep promises. If a pay freeze or cut came with a pledge to catch up later, do it. Or at least explain why you can’t now and when you might.
  4. Reduce unnecessary tasks….maybe make monthly reports quarterly instead.
  5. Save what cash you have for the most important people on your staff. That may be a line foreman rather than a vice president. Think productivity, experience and the availability of a replacement when deciding who gets a bonus.

Conversely, remember the other side of the coin:

Now’s a good time to fill staff holes and plot a hiring strategy so you can compete when you’re ready to add to payroll.

Money will always be the primary lure, but a good approach needs more. If you have a prospect in mind, home in on his or her personal goals and needs. Be willing to offer flexible work schedules, training and advancement potential. Some workers hunger for a casual dress code or the right to occasionally bring a child or even a dog to work. Introduce prospects to current employees who can seal a deal by telling them your company is a good place to work. Show you’re financially secure, if that’s the case, so workers won’t worry about the long-term viability of a move.

Take generational differences into account. No one size fits all. What attracts a 20-something technology whiz who hates being tied to a desk can be very different from a seasoned baby boomer’s wants. Flexibility in schedules and in tasks assigned, autonomy, company stability and more are part of the package.

(Source: Kiplinger Letter, Vol. 87, No. 4)