Economic Shift—Back to Employee Retention Basics
While the recession flooded the market with available talent, the talent pool is once again starting to gain the upper hand in the job market. As the recession subsides, businesses that want to remain competitive will shift their focus from cost-cutting to employee retention. The trick is knowing exactly the right time to shift: companies that shift too soon will lose money, while companies that shift too late will lose talent.
Organizations that have cut staff and asked their remaining employees to pick up the slack may find themselves eventually losing good employees to burnout and the lure of greener pastures. Although it’s tempting to think the Great Recession unveiled some new economic model in which one person can effectively do the job of two, the reality is this model is not sustainable in a positive economy. Just as a runner can only sprint for so long, an employee can only burn the candle at both ends for so many months before he starts thinking about moving on.
Even despite tough economic times, the younger generations in particular still expect to achieve a balance between their LIFE and WORK, and organizations who rely on Generation X-ers and Millennials must meet these expectations in order to retain them. Beginning this year, there are more Millennials (born 1981-2000) alive than Baby Boomers (born 1944-1960). Over the next two decades, U.S. companies will lose 76 million Boomers to retirement, leaving 30 million jobs unfilled. The good news is, structuring programs that create the work-life balance so craved by Xers and Millennials does not necessarily mean businesses must put up with employees who are willing to work less. It simply means making a few minor adjustments to the traditional 9-5 paradigm, or maybe even implementing innovative mentoring and training programs, many of which are free.
Providing flexible work hours and accommodating people’s need to be in certain other places at certain other times is one of the most powerful ways to Attract and Retain top talent. A 2008 poll of 1500 technology workers conducted by Dice Holdings, Inc. revealed that 37 percent of workers would accept a salary cut if allowed to work from home. Accordingly, organizations may find they can save money and attract top talent for less by simply offering the ability to telecommute. This is a model that works even on a large scale—no less than 70 percent of Cisco Systems’ workforce currently telecommutes. Recent technological advances make remote management easier than ever before. It’s not difficult to monitor employees’ online presence, and VoIP phone systems will re-route calls to a direct office line through to any cell or home telephone. In this way, workers can be anywhere and still be available in the office.
Telecommuting programs are not the only way to motivate and retain talent. In addition to their desire for LIFE-WORK balance, Millennials tend to be highly motivated and ambitious. They want to work in positions where they have the opportunity to do meaningful work, to make a difference, to learn, and to advance their careers. Assigning projects that give Millennials the chance to work with senior management and share the spotlight keeps them excited about their job, which in turn motivates them to stay longer.
Adding this type of mentoring program is a cost effective solution to motivate and retain the best millennial talent, and it also has the added bonus of facilitating knowledge-transfer from soon-to-be-retiring workers to the up and coming leaders of the organization.
The workplace dynamic is changing. Businesses who successfully ride the crest of change will recruit and keep the best employees and maintain a competitive advantage in the market.