Layoffs associated with the Great Recession allowed hiring executives to cherry pick a flooded talent market, but as the economic downturn slowly reverses, business focus will shift from acquiring top talent to keeping it. According to Shelly Little, CEO of talent recruitment and retention firm Michaels Wilder, businesses may be surprised to learn that retaining top talent doesn’t necessarily mean throwing buckets of money at employees. In fact, Michaels Wilder has found innovative strategies which keep employees engaged and involved yield better retention and motivation results than offering a token yearly raise.
Michaels Wilder’s talent retention efforts are focused on creating and retaining exceptional talent within the organization. “It’s not high-dollar amounts, but we want to show that these employees matter.” According to Ms. Little, one of the best ways to identify, reward, and keep top talent is to create internal opportunities for employees to take on high profile projects that put them in the spotlight. “We get them involved and get them to work with senior levels of management,” Little says. “This gives them the opportunity to understand the company hierarchy and move politically within the organization.”
Projects like these facilitate another critical business function—knowledge transfer within the organization. As the Baby Boomer and Traditionalist generations retire, it’s critical for organizations to guard against knowledge drain. Creating opportunities for newer employees to work on projects with senior talent serves the dual purpose of facilitating knowledge transfer and boosting retention rates by making younger generations feel invested in the company.
Investing in remote-office technology is another way to attract and retain top talent, according to Little. Michaels Wilder has put this technology to work by adopting a program called ROWE, which was originally implemented by Best Buy. ROWE stands for Results Oriented Work Environment. “The idea,” Little says, “is that our employees are capable, responsible adults who know how to manage their work, so we give them the flexibility to work remotely so they don’t always have to be in the office.” Certain provisions and eligibility requirements apply, but employees who qualify will have the flexibility to work off site in the event they need to do so.
Flexibility to work remotely and the ability to maintain a work-life balance is particularly valued by Millennials and Gen X. Studies show that Millennials and Gen X will almost always choose employers who offer remote-office capabilities over employers who offer higher salaries but require rigid office attendance. According to Little, Boomer and Traditionalist generations are slow to recognize the merits of this type of program, “but when they recognize there are no negative repercussions, the light goes on.” When Michaels Wilder first implemented ROWE, upper management grumbled a bit because the new program threw a wrench into an entrenched management style. “It was a bit of a curve ball,” Little says. “But once management started participating themselves, they thought, ‘This is great! I can’t wait to do this more. Please don’t take this away!’”
Employee tenure is one of the top indicators of success and revenue generation within an organization, Little says, and small steps to make sure employees will stay even twelve months longer can directly affect a company’s bottom line. Retention programs like the ones she’s implemented at Michaels Wilder cost little but have a direct impact on a business’ bottom line. “More tenured employees perform better, and that results in more revenue for the company,” Little says. “If you’ve got employees who are engaged and involved at work and stay with the company, they build and develop client, vendor, and partner relationships. The longer they keep those relationships and the longer they stay with you, the bigger the tangible benefit in the form of increased revenue to your company.”
Photo Credit In the Library with the Lead Pipe.