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How to Retain Experienced and Efficient Employees
The multinationals and global organizations of today are notorious for their high attrition rates. Hence, retaining employees has become one of the chief tasks of modern Human Resource Managers. Human Resource Managers feel proud if they are successful at retaining employees for over a year, to work for companies in which most employees are over a year old.
What is it with employees today? Or is it the fault of the organizations? Let us delve deeper into the problem of high employee turnover, to understand it better.
The high employee attrition rate is largely due to globalization. This is a truth, which we have to acknowledge. As globalization has spread all across the world, countries are reporting higher GDPs and economic growth rates. Economies of most nations are bubbling despite occasional meltdowns. Almost all major transnational companies have opened up offices in different countries, across continents in a bid to expand their operations. As a result, there are more options available to the workforce of a nation nowadays than there was, about half-a-century ago. Employees have more opportunities at their disposal to switch jobs for higher salaries and better prospects.
Globalization, Airports and Railway Stations
Yet another reason why the employee turnover rate has skyrocketed is because widespread globalization has made cities wealthier than what they were. Hence, airports have cropped up in almost all the cities of the globe. Therefore, traveling has become hassle-free and less time-consuming. A person working in Paris can fly to Nice every weekend to meet their family. The person can also take a train to his or her hometown to meet his or her family every weekend as the railway industry too has flourished with globalization.
Globalization and Consumerism
Globalization has boosted the purchasing power of people. People have become more materialistic as they have more spending power. It is the age of consumerism. People want to earn well so that they can live well and in style. The idea of saving has taken a beating. People of the 21st century would not mind taking loans so that they can buy houses, cars and so that they can holiday in exotic places. Fabulous and well-decorated houses with spacious living rooms, island or modular kitchens, several bedrooms and guest rooms, a basement, a wine cellar, a swimming pool, a games room, and a driveway is what most modern people want, nowadays. Additionally, they want a few cars including one or two racing cars, in their garage. Besides, they want to wear trendy clothes, dine in expensive restaurants, put their kids in expensive private or boarding schools and live in luxury. All this costs money. And so people naturally want to change jobs in order to earn as much as possible so that they are able to pay for their luxurious lifestyles. As soon as they get better offers, they are willing to change.
Another reason for the current high employee attrition rate is technology. Technology has turned the world into a global village. An employee working in the US can connect with their family in Shanghai through email and video conferencing in a jiffy. Modern connectivity software is very hi-tech and user-friendly so that people do not face any problems while chatting with their friends, family members, and colleagues across seas and oceans. Due to the near exponential boom in social networking, employees feel no less confident when they leave station to work in distant lands, as they are sanguine that keeping in touch with families and friends will be no problem. Grown-up children, hence, do not think twice about hopping jobs and moving from one city to another, as they know that they will be able to keep in touch with their parents via Facebook, Twitter, and Orkut, and will even be able to talk to and see their parents on a daily basis through Skype and other easily-accessible video-call and live chatting software, with the help of a webcam. It is the same with married couples. Wives and husbands reach out to each other over social networking sites and Skype video call. As communication has become a cinch, people do not bat an eyelid about living apart from their families.
About fifty years ago, a person would have to deliberate a lot before changing their job and going to a different city. Such a move would entail difficulty, as the person would not be able to see their family regularly. He or she would have to keep in touch with family members and friends by sending letters, which would take their own sweet time to be delivered. Once the letter would reach the person’s family, the family would have to answer it by sending another letter, which again would take time to reach the person at the other end. Family members would thus end up missing each other terribly.
Job Portals and Application Procedures
Job portals also play their roles in pushing up employee attrition rates. Monster and other renowned job portals have hundreds and thousands of resumes registered with them. These portals manage to earn lots of money because of their worldwide popularity. They are excellent platforms that connect employees to prospective employers. Thousands of employers rely on these portals to scan the resumes of and select future employees. Most well-known job portals take money from the employers. Securing employment has become easy with the presence of such gateways. People no longer have to sit and read piles of newspapers in order to apply to jobs though newspaper classifieds continue to advertise for situations vacant and wanted. Also, the manner of applying for a post has changed drastically with the ubiquity of the Internet. Jobseekers do not have to take printed copies of their CVs, certificates, testimonials and other documents, pack them up, put them in envelopes, seal the envelopes before sending them by post to the places where they are applying. No indeed. The process of applying for a job has been rendered extremely easy with the help of the Internet and the email. All that jobseekers have to do is to open their email accounts, compose a covering letter addressed to the prospective employer, attach soft copies of all their particulars to the covering letter and send the letter along with the attachments by just clicking the Send button. Employee loyalty rates have plummeted as job application procedures have become simpler.
The Age of Globetrotters
However, experts opine that apart from the individual reasons, which have been cited above, and which are responsible for high employee attrition rates, the primary reason behind the high employee turnover figures is a general cause that is linked to a general worldwide trend. Experts, business psychologists and HR managers have analyzed this trend to be the chief cause behind the high attrition rates. They have found from various studies and research papers that the under-forty workforce is very ambitious and tends to consist of globetrotters. The lure to be a global citizen has more power over them, much more than the lure of the lucre. Youngsters nowadays love to brag that they have worked in different cities of the world, that they are jet setters, hopping from city to city, across continents at a moment’s notice. Young people, therefore, like to land jobs that give them ample opportunities to travel around the world, to explore new countries, to get acquainted with new cultures and new cuisines. Even if they have good and stable jobs, they will not think twice about dropping their jobs like hot bricks if they find new jobs through job portals on the Internet that promise them a global lifestyle.
Another factor that emerges from these studies is that young people nowadays have lesser commitments. About forty to fifty years ago, most people were married and settled by thirty-five. Currently, however, most under-forties prefer live-in relationships to marriage. They find such relationships more convenient than marriage as live-in relationships can be dissolved at the drop of a hat. Also, live-in relationships mean a general no-no to children as the relationships, being essentially makeshift, may not last. Many married couples too, prefer not to have children, nowadays as, since the husband and the wife both work and are both engaged in building their careers, who has the time and energy to look after kids? There are many married couples who stay married but live apart for the sake of their careers. It is common to find the wife living in San Francisco and the husband living in Tokyo or the wife living in Boston and the husband in London or husbands and wives separated by as much distance as mentioned above, across the globe, only because they are pursuing their careers. So, such husbands and wives are pretty willing to switch jobs and are not daunted by the thought of living apart from their spouses by thousands of miles (though this kind of setup often causes infidelity and cheating in marriage and marriages to fail, but that is another issue altogether.)
The Million-Dollar Question and Its Answers
So the million-dollar question is: how do you keep efficient employees? We, Senior HR Managers and Business Psychologists have really racked our brains about this problem to find some workable solutions. After much research, debate, deliberation, and on-the-job experience, we have come up with some answers to this apparently mind-boggling question. We propose the following set of solutions to effectively tackle the problem of mounting employee attrition rates:
• Make Your Company World-Class: Try to make your company a world-class company. All standard world-class companies give about the same types of benefits and perquisites to their employees. They also offer salaries in the same range. A CMMI Level 5 company or a company registered under the ISO 9000 series is generally a big company though such benchmarks may not always testify to the financial strength of a company. However, a global company can always be identified by the strength of its employees, the number of its shareholders, its management policies and practices, etc. So, try to make your company a global company. It helps in retaining valuable employees. In addition, employees will not feel like switching jobs if they are working for a company with a global presence. That is because, even if they change jobs, they will not get a very high increment on their salaries or raise on their perquisites as all global companies offer more or less, the same amount of pay and the same kind of perquisites such as a car, free traveling and holidaymaking opportunities, stock options, an apartment, excessive house rent allowance, cell phones, etc.
• Promote Job Transfers Within the Company: Try to promote job transfers within the company. Many big companies that are engaged in a wide array of businesses follow this policy scrupulously. So, when their employees want a pay raise or a promotion or want to use their talents more productively, these companies encourage them to change jobs across horizontals, to take up new roles in new departments of the company. This helps companies to retain experienced and efficient workers and helps the workers to feel motivated because they can use their skills innovatively in new areas of business while remaining in the same company. This strategy is mutually beneficial for both the employee and the company (employer). Some employees get so used to the environment of a particular company that they do not like to leave it even if they want to enhance their skills with a better job. But if the company does not offer any options of internal transfer and promotion to these employees, they are forced to leave the company in an attempt to improve their prospects. So, shifting these employees to a newer and a higher paying job in the same environment is the best thing that a company can do to retain them as well as to help them improve their skills and advance in their careers. Companies have much to gain if they manage to retain old talent. And employees feel good to work in the same company in a new and a more challenging role. However, a company has to be involved in several businesses and have its finger in almost every corporate pie to be capable of promoting job transfers within itself.
When companies embark on clever employee-retaining strategies as the one mentioned above, they are held in high esteem by their employees. Such decisions taken by the company management help to foster greater employee-loyalty and consequently higher employee productivity.
• Make Your Employees Feel Wanted: You must give recognition to diligent employees and employees who go out of their way to increase company profits and company sales turnovers. You must reward employees who are creative, who take bold decisions and who try to do things differently. You must motivate your employees and reward them if they do things well. This provides them with the necessary impetus and zeal to excel at their work. They will also feel more loyal to you if you entrust them with greater responsibilities. Making an employee feel wanted and important automatically gives a boost to their feelings of loyalty towards the company.
• Praise Your Employees for Their Strengths: Through an accurate SWOT analysis, HR Managers should gauge what employees can do best. Employees should always be egged on to do what they can do well. This makes them feel confident and helps them to earn the respect of their colleagues, subordinates and superiors. So, instead of punishing employees for their weaknesses, HR Managers should always praise employees for their strengths. Such HR approaches are bound to yield results in the form of augmented employee-loyalty and consequently, lesser employee attrition rates.
• Make Your Reward Structure Comprehensive: When your company plans rewards and awards, please ensure that the awards and rewards scheme is comprehensive, focuses on all business perspectives, and does not take a blinkered view of employee abilities. What I mean to say is that while there should be awards for employee contributions in mainstream company activities and areas such as sales; marketing; profits; the development of financial and company forecasts; the attempt to decrease downtime through newer and more sophisticated production techniques; strategic management that can help to place the company in a better light vis-a-vis its competitors; and brand building; there should also be awards for employee attendance; employees’ contribution towards office decor; employees who take the initiative to improve the different aspects of the cafeteria and the pantry; employees who work to improve the company’s environmental policies and image; and employees who encourage the company to participate in social work activities.
• Be Democratic and Ethical Towards Your Employees: ‘Corporate governance’ and ‘accountability’ are not mere buzzwords of the 21st century, they are also words that are as important as words like ‘profits’ and ‘sales turnovers’. Due to the large number of accounting scandals that have taken place in giant multinational companies over the last decade or so, business ethics, corporate governance and accounting standards and practices of companies are presently under the keen scrutiny of corporate and financial whistleblowers and watchdogs. A company has to be accountable to all its stakeholders. Which means a company has to be accountable to its owners and shareholders, to its employees, to its suppliers and vendors, to its customers, and to the public at large. If there is no transparency in a company’s policies towards its various stakeholders, which includes its employees, it is not likely that employees will want to stay in such a company over a long period of time. Transparent and ethical employee-management and corporate policies make employees feel loyal to the company as they mean that the company has a democratic approach towards its employees and encourages the latter to voice their own concerns so that the concerns may be addressed and solved.
• Make An External Agency Execute Valuable Internal Assessments: Many companies carry out internal assessments. Companies generally assign this task to an external agency such as Gallup poll or AC Nielson or Org Marg or any other agency so that the assessment may be as honest and as bias-free as possible. Each employee is given a questionnaire, which he or she has to fill out. Employees are told specifically not to mention their names anywhere on the questionnaire or on the answer script so that they can remain anonymous and so that they can freely write the truth without any fears of being penalized for their candid opinions. This procedure encourages employees to speak out honestly about what they dislike and like about their company. The feedback generated through this process is very valuable for the company as it helps HR Managers understand key aspects of corporate policies, the effects of such policies on the employees, what needs to be changed, what practices need to be done away with. Such a procedure provides a platform through which corrective measures can be taken as it is somewhat like an audit. According to the feedback given, HR Managers can implement new procedures and policies which may help to boost employee morale and hence loyalty.
• Foster Teamwork: Managerial policies in a company should be such that synergy through teamwork is encouraged. Employees stand to gain a lot from synergistic teamwork. Teambuilding is a core aspect of good management. Employees can share their grievances and concerns in a team better. Teambuilding creates a healthy workplace atmosphere. Instead of finding lone employees brooding over their own problems and vitiating the workplace atmosphere, you will see teams discussing their problems openly and frankly. If people are allowed to give vent to their frustrations, they end up feeling better and working better. Hence, you should always support teamwork and teambuilding if you want to retain your employees. Never be threatened by teams. Never equate teams with unions. No. If you allow teamwork to flourish in your company, you will find that employees are less willing to participate in negative and destructive union activities.
• Conduct Exit Interviews: When employees are leaving, always conduct exit interviews with them. Frame the questionnaire in a way so that employees can be frank about why they want to leave and can give their true opinions about the company they are leaving. Exit interviews often help HR Managers to assess gaps in HR policies, to see themselves, their HR policies and the company in the true and actual light.
• Treat Your Employees Like Family: Finally and most importantly, remember that your employees are your extended family, an integral part of your company. You cannot work alone, without them. If you have to move ahead, you have to move ahead together, on the basis of mutual trust and cooperation. The happiness of your employees, therefore, is of paramount importance and you should be sincerely concerned about their welfare. If you have to work together, you will have to see into their cares and concerns. A company that is successful always has employees who are happy. You can study the most successful companies of the world to verify this fact. The richest companies that are listed in the Forbes and Fortune (500) magazines invariably boast of employees who are satisfied and happy.
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