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Who can argue the value and importance of employee retention?

One of the most significant challenges in today’s business climate is finding motivated employees. Consider the time and expense required to recruit, interview, onboard and train each member of your company’s workforce and consider the ramifications when reliable employees leave for a better position. The resources you invested in that employee can no longer provide a return and you will have to repeat that investment for your next candidate.

There are several contributing factors to an employee’s decision to leave one company for another. Money is certainly the key driver – all of us want to be fairly compensated for our efforts. A worker’s relationship with their direct supervisor will have a profound impact on their length of tenure. Company culture certainly plays a role – the work environment, community support and the legitimate feeling of family can be important sources of pride and identification, especially with the newest generation of workers. Competitive pay, a management system that treats people well and a company that supports its community are desirable to every employee looking for more than “just a job.” But, in today’s competitive job market, we’ll have to take that a step farther.

When we present employees with celebrated recognition of their efforts and additional opportunities for compensation based on performance, we create a sustainable win-win scenario for both the workforce and the company. Simply put, employees who feel they are legitimately appreciated are employees who perform at their best because they know they matter. The challenge is in determining a fair system of evaluating and rewarding individual and/or team performance.

You will need to establish a budget, create and publish a timeline and determine just what kind of compensation you will award. The more often employees can win, the better they will like it. Rather than give one winner $1200 give 12 winners $100. That can be your “Performer (or Employee) of the Month” celebration.

The criteria needed to win should be clearly worded and communicated to all employees. We do not want the award to be perceived as a decision by management alone because that comes across as too subjective. Instead, involve the employees in identifying top performers. Invite production workers to nominate a member of their team who they feel exhibits a high standard of work performance / attendance / organization / helpfulness. Invite sales and customer service departments to submit the individual they believe made a difference in adding new accounts, growing existing business or converting a dissatisfied customer into a fan. Ask your employees to nominate your company’s Mentor of the Month. It doesn’t have to be a manager or a team leader necessarily. You are looking for an employee willing to teach others how to be great at their job.

Gift cards are a great award – better than cash or check, which are quickly assimilated into a checking account or quickly spent and quickly forgotten. Give someone a $100 Amazon or Target gift card and let them think of your company as they decide how to use it up.

Along with celebrating individual accomplishment, make it a point to recognize and honor team efforts throughout the year. Did you meet your monthly sales target? Did one of the engineering teams successfully complete a project under budget? Did purchasing and warehousing work together with your supply base to figure out how to reduce inventory? Look for success and celebrate it! Everyone loves a free lunch – when goals are met, send out a company-wide email and let people know there’s a special lunch coming because they earned it as a team.

A great program we have at Sussex IM rewards team members for cost reductions. At the end of the year, management solicits individuals and departments for all cost saving initiatives. We complete a form describing the cost reduction project, provide details, document savings and name the involved personnel. Encouraging a year-round proactive mindset toward identifying waste and developing a solution, participating employees are rewarded with gift cards and a “casino night” dinner featuring games and a raffle – where everyone wins a nice prize.

Don’t forget to celebrate personal events along with business goals – birthdays, work anniversaries, weddings and babies. If you want your company to have a family culture, treat employees like family by recognizing and celebrating their accomplishments and value.


Editorial content by: John Berg, Director of Marketing Sussex IM

January 24, 2019

Article for Sussex Area Chamber of Commerce Newsletter, February 2019


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