Secrets to Attracting and Retaining Great Team Members


Understanding Intangibles Is Key to Winning Top Talent

The cost of losing and replacing a team member is between 50 and 150 percent of the salary of the departing team member. In fact, an international study conducted by Taco Bell found that their outlets with the lowest employee turnover produced up to 50 percent more in sales.

Shortages in skilled labour have begun to put applicants in the driver's seat and turn employers into pursuers in the race for talent and low turnover. The hunter has become the hunted, and the result is that workers are becoming ever more certain and demanding about what they want from the work experience. Make no mistake - they will leave you to find it elsewhere. The good news is that if you take the time to understand the expectations (intangibles beyond salary and promotions) most often desired by team members, you’ll have the greatest tools for attracting and retaining great talent.

What are the top 5 most desired intangibles? Here are some secrets you should know: 

1.   Be proactive in offering a better work/life balance 
      Time spent on the job in a given year has increased by 163 hours in the last 20 years. That's roughly 
      one month per year; whilst leisure has declined by one third. Undoubtedly, this is why over the past seven
      years, the amount of salary and number of work hours that workers say they're willing to give up to achieve
      a work/life balance has doubled. And 55 percent of 18 to 34 year olds identify the freedom to take
      extended leaves or sabbaticals as a key workplace benefit.

      Companies have found they can increase productivity, revenue or both by 20 percent simply by
      implementing a work-life balance program for staff. Likewise, it's possible to reduce turnover by as much as
      50 percent by introducing any of the following: dependent care leave, childcare subsidies, eldercare
      programs, counselling and referral, and flexible working hours.

2.   Promote the sense of a deeper cause
      Today's workers yearn to be motivated by more than the company's bottom line. Companies that try to be
      good corporate citizens, or rewrite their mission statements to incorporate the sense of a deeper cause,
      have an edge. Even more effective is allowing team members to do volunteer work on company time, and
      even company budget. And then there are the two tried-and-true approaches: matching employees'
      charitable donations and recognizing service above and beyond the call of duty. Interestingly, when faced
      with a choice of making more money or earning "enough" doing work that makes the world a better place,
      86 percent of today's workers will chose the latter.

      The corporate manifestation of a noble cause can take many forms, from reworking mission statements to
      airing videos that capture customers testifying about how important the company's service is to
      them. "Going green" is yet another: Fairmont Hotels, for example, has had an extensive recycling program
      on its premises for some time. A maid who recently explained how much extra time it took her to sort the
      recycling properly added proudly, "Doing the recycling is the most important part of my job and makes me
      feel like I did something important in my day."

3.   Offer the chance for professional growth and development

      Today’s workers seek both personal and professional nourishment. Career building skills are the new security,
      and companies that fail to provide them lose out. The most successful information technology companies
      spend 7 to 10 percent of their payroll on training, compared with the standard two to three percent.
      Mentoring is also becoming ever more popular, not only because it is often more effective than training (up
      to 70 percent of knowledge is obtained informally on the job), but because it can help revitalise older
      workforce members matched with younger employees.

      A Gallup poll named the lack of opportunities to learn and grow as one of the top three reasons for team
      member dissatisfaction. Kinko's Inc., the world’s largest printing and photocopying chain, is taking such
      information to heart and has implemented a training program that gives workers a training path and sense of
      career. The result? Turnover dropped from 78 to 50 percent.

4.   Treat employees more like partners

      Whilst many business owners believe that they don’t adhere to a formal company hierarchy, team members
      beg to differ. Surveys indicate that 60 percent of senior managers feel they treat employees as valued
      business partners, whilst less that 30 percent of employees share that opinion. The reality is that workers
      today are no longer satisfied with empowerment; they want a sense of ownership. This concept entails four 
      distinct traits: 
            -  Communication above rank: Team members expect to contribute suggestions without regard to age
               or rank. A related issue is regular feedback. Surveys find that workers who feel their opinion counted
               at work are the most likely to contribute their full energy and dedication.

            -  Open books: Team members want a true stake in the game, which means taking a deep breath and
               providing them with a free-flow of previously heavily guarded financial information.

            -  Performance-based pay: A true stake also means devising profit-sharing plans. Team bonuses appear
               to be the most effective.

            -  Partnering leaders: More supervisors trained in a less authoritarian style is emerging as the make-or-
               break factor in retention, engagement and long-term survival.

5.   Workers are seeking community in the workplace

      The traditional pillars of community -- church, extended family and neighbourhoods -- are being squeezed
      out by longer work hours, smaller families, later marriage, mobility and consumerism. Meanwhile, technology,
      flexible work hours and contract work have cut back how many people are gathering for chats at the water
      cooler. So people are reaching out more so now for a sense that their company is a caring place that
      provides a sense of deep community. They want to know they are cared about because of the hectic pace
      of their lives. Workplaces that accept the role of community building more proactively by creating more
      opportunity for interaction will experience higher retention.

      So how do you go about creating community?

            -  Create plenty of opportunities for team members to interact both intellectually and socially.

            -  Tinker with the workplace design to ensure more social interaction. The lack of natural gathering
               points works against this aim.

            -  Get creative about initiating opportunities for quality interaction, such as barbecues where workers
               from all ranks mix casually.

            -  Emphasise an open community by welcoming new members with vigour and allowing alumni to come
               and go with ease.

Until next week,
Mike Reddy