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Smart HR Pays Attention to Retention

The HR Challenge in a Booming Economy


(HRD) - The business of managing a company’s human resources has become far more involved than has been in the past, particularly in the province of Alberta. This region is extremely fortunate to have the level of industry that we enjoy and the employment opportunities that go with it. However, with the provincial unemployment rate at an impressive 4.3%, (full employment is thought to be 5%) this provides challenges to HR professionals that go beyond finding more and more people to hire. Instead, wise Human Resource managers must now focus as much on retention as attracting new employees. 

Cheaper to Keep Her
The reason for recent attention towards retention in the HR field is, according to newly released trends data from the Human Resources Institute of Alberta, the average cost for processing a single ‘employee turnover’ was an astonishing $17,870.00. It clearly makes economic sense to treat your employees well to keep them, rather than trying to manage a revolving door.
What kind of programs can HR managers offer that will keep their employees happy and motivated? Surprisingly, many retention initiatives have nothing to do with increasing pay scales. Money speaks only so loudly before other factors drown it out. These factors may include such things as;

  • the health of the corporate culture,
  • how valued a worker feels,
  • how much critical support an employee perceives he gets from management,
  • whether the staff member feels they have opportunities for advancement and/or personal growth.

Creating a Constructive Corporate Culture
One of the most effective forms of retention is making sure the employees are comfortable in their roles within the company with regard to meeting corporate objectives. Staff members need to feel they are a part of the team to be effective and good communication throughout the firm’s flow chart is essential.

How Do We Do That?

  • Have principled mission and values statements in your policy manual and ensure your employees know what they are.
  • Be respectful of your workers’ time. Be certain they have all the tools they need to do the job at hand. Scrap long or unnecessary meetings. People need to feel they’re productive.
  • Make sure everyone is pulling their weight. Fair work distribution affects morale keenly.
  • Employees’ family time must be valued. Providing flexibility for occasional family care issues; allowing time off to tend to a sick child or elderly parent, for instance, is essential.
  • Never compromise worker safety. Nothing sends a clearer message that you care.
  • Be as fair with all employees as possible. Playing favourites is a dangerous game.
  • Cultivate honesty and integrity in all your dealings with staff. Keep your promises
  • Praising excellent work is critical. Everyone wants individual recognition.
  • Avoid micro-managing. Allow staff to use their own creativity in solving problems.
  • Do not treat staff as you wish to be treated, treat them as they wish to be treated. The only way to do this is to get to know them and understand their personal motivators.
  • Workers who are told why they are doing a job are happier than those left in the dark.
  • Staff must have comfortable surroundings. They need to focus on the job, not the temperature in the office, the hardness of their chair, or any other environmental issues.
  • Converse with your staff about non-work topics and share some of yourself in the process. It fosters a feeling of family which aids retention immeasurably.

What Should We Talk About?
Obviously, you don’t want to appear to be prying but most employees would be happy to talk about their families and their hobbies. Learning how individuals spend his free time is a huge step to understanding what motivates them and what they view as priorities in their lives.

Beyond the personal aspects of a staff member’s work/life balance, it is vital to ask your employees two important questions. The first is, “What do you like about your job?” Putting this question to your workers results in them thinking of the positives the company provides them and informs the wise HR manager as to the individual’s motivations.

The second question is, “How can we, as employers, improve your work life?” This is a different question than “What do you hate about your job?” which starts out with a negative supposition. Again, learning what the company can do to improve a worker’s lot will not only give HR an understanding of the behavioural triggers for the employee, but also make the individual feel valued. Do not ignore the results of the conversations.

Don't Forget The Fun Factor

Another simple, yet vital method of increasing retention and improving morale is to make the workplace as fun and family-friendly as possible. Here are some simple suggestions that are far less expensive than failing to retain employees:

-Remember to mark a staff member’s birthday in some significant, personal way. It is an effective method of underlining that management considers each employee unique.
-Have a “bring your kid to work day” if practicable or host family-oriented outings; a field trip to a sporting event, for example. Making your staff look like heroes to their families is retention gold.
-Use humour in your communications. The workplace can be serious without being solemn.
-Create social activities for employees, such as summer picnics, special holiday parties and other unique events.
-Have a monthly draw for a gift card or some other prizes among the rank and file.
-Do not cheap out on required clothing and equipment provisions, such as a steel-toed boot allowance. Generosity here not only protects your employees but reduces liability risk exposure due to poorly outfitted workers.
-Form a sports team and provide t-shirts for the company bowlers, baseball players or the like. Wearing company’s colours in their free time will forge a stronger emotional attachment for the business with the employee.
-Host an occasional “Pizza Day” for the workers, even those in the field. Having management bring out hot coffee and donuts to a frosty jobsite or chilled lemonade or ice cream to a hot one, lets them know you understand what they are up against.
It is amazing how little needs to be expended to make your staff feel they have a bond with the company that goes beyond their pay packet. It certainly will cost less than $17,840. per worker.

Three R’s of Retention:

Ultimately, retention is all about respecting your staff, relating to them as individuals and recognizing their contribution to the profitability of the business.

But it has to be genuine. Employees can detect false concern a mile away. You want your employees to not just work for the company but, in effect, be in a long-term relationship with the organization. The only way to do that is to show you care about them and about the relationship that has been established.


Author: Chris McKerracher

Chris McKerracher is a Social Media Marketer and Professional Writer for Industrial NetMedia. Chris has worked as a journalist, editorialist and humourist for a number of Alberta newspapers since 1995. He has also written eight theatrical plays which have been produced with the ninth to be staged in May of 2016.

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#206, 5904 - 50 Street, Leduc, Alberta.
T9E 0R6 Canada
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