While the strong U.S. economy is good news for many, temptation lurks for staff members to seek "greener pastures," and many companies are facing a real dilemma in keeping good employees.
With the current low unemployment rate and projections that the ratio of jobs to employees will increase into 2005, this is a situation that will not simply go away. Maintaining and developing personnel are essential to continued growth.
The work/life balance is one that many professionals struggle with each day. As an employer, recognizing and addressing this stress is key to maintaining staff stability. We are all faced with too much to do on a daily basis, with not enough time to meet every need. As a result, stress is carried over from the workplace into one´s personal life.
Some innovative solutions that are being tested include telecommuting and flex-time concepts that offer nontraditional work hours like a nine-day, 80-hour pay period. Some companies are trying out job sharing, where two part-time people fill the role of one full-time person. Still other firms have initiated a 3½-day schedule, with three 12-hour shifts and then a six-hour day. The methods all demonstrate the need for flexibility, and managers need to remember that each employee is an individual and has unique demands on their time. A manager that permits a worker to arrive early once a week so she can pick up her kids at day care at 3 p.m. will have a loyal employee.
Another tricky subject for employers is rewarding people for good work. One effective approach is the use of time off for work well done, like offering a day off for getting a project done before a deadline.
There are possible pitfalls, however. The emphasis should be on a reward for meeting a deadline, not as a "perk" that, over time, becomes regarded as a benefit to which employees are entitled.
An example is a major bottling company that is offering half-day Fridays during summer months. An even more-effective perk is free passes to a fair or to the movies for the whole family, to create conversation about "the great company I work for!´´
Perhaps the best investment you can make is building loyalty. Your personnel spend long hours and lots of energy making your firm operate smoothly. As a result, their expectations are high. The goods news is that the demands are within your reach.
By avoiding the classic three errors that create turnover, you can maintain a stable work force: a poor relationship with the boss, lack of opportunity and lack of appreciation for employees´ efforts.
The remedy is simple, however. The company needs to foster an environment where criticisms are accepted, and listened to. That way both the employer and the employee can communicate effectively. Employees are not only loyal to the company, but also to their supervisor.
With employees constantly being lured by new opportunities, companies must be savvy interviewers and provide career-enhancing opportunities after "the sale." Although the challenge can seem formidable, with a shift in how a company addresses their hiring and maintenance methods, a company can create a workplace with competent and loyal employees.
Over the long term, the simple strategies of communications, thoughtful review and thinking like your personnel while making company policy can create a productive and loyal staff.
Gros is president of Gros Plastics Recruiters of Brentwood, Tenn.