Retaining Your Staff

With an unemployment rate below 4% for six months of the year, the US is pretty much at full employment levels, as well as a 50-year low. This is a definite job-seekers’ market, making hiring and retaining staff a challenge employers must overcome to stay competitive. But how?

These situations do vary from region to region and between job types, but it takes more creativity than when there is a surplus of personnel.

The obvious first line of defense is to increase wage ranges. Many states have established a minimum wage of $15/hour, but of course, this applies only to lowest-wage people. You’ll need to do some research to find benchmarks for the roles within your company and locale. Break those numbers out by upper/lower 10%, upper/lower quartiles, average/mean wage and years of experience, to get the data to be competitive, within your specific occupational codes. You may set a base wage rate for straight-time, salaried roles. Add onto this value a commission or bonus for managers, sales reps, recruiters and other eligible personnel. All things being equal, when everyone’s wages go up, prices will likely do the same over time, but with little impact to the bottom line.

Next comes the intangibles, items that in many ways are more important than salary. Things such as treating others with respect, creating a place where your employees feel challenged and look forward to coming to work each day. Having a clear career path, providing good working conditions and motivational perks. And then there’s how you handle difficult situations. Having a grievance/open door policy where your employees feel free to offer suggestions and deal with delicate issues, without the fear of repercussion. But it has to be more than lip service. You have to make sure each of these is consistently applied, that they are a part of your culture.

Also, consider providing sensitivity training for your managers, particularly in our current litigious atmospheres. Include issues from sexual harassment, improper use of social media, exclusion of people from different cultures, ethnicity, etc.

And when there is a problem with a worker, when a person is not a fit in the organization for any reason, such as absenteeism, insufficient knowledge or being unqualified to do the job, make every effort to salvage them before dismissal. The possible cost to staff morale and lawsuit that may follow otherwise can be prohibitive. The hit to your reputation, deserved or not, may make your company a place where people do not want to work, and that is hard thing to reverse. So think things through before acting rashly.

Michael Neidle

Michael Neidle
Michael Neidle is president and CEO of Optimal Management, an advisor to staffing firm owners and managers.

Michael Neidle

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