Retention Readiness

The economic downturn continues to lull most organizations into a mode of operating predicated on labor supply exceeding demand.  Repeatedly, I hear leaders express that regardless of their actions, numerous people need work and would accept any conditions to gain employment.  Re-enforcement of this behavior occurs every time someone leaves and a large applicant pool provides a replacement.  As the downturn drags on, more organizations continue to change their mentality as well as practices.

This approach functions well for a limited time if conditions match organizational needs.  If an organization loses employees that are low performers and not needed to sustain current production levels, then self-initiated turnover provides a welcome alternative to reductions in force.  The observable as well as unobservable negative impact relates to culture and practice.  An organization that feels that qualified labor is limitless begins to dismantle programs that support retention.  As programs fade away, the culture starts to change.

More importantly, as culture and practice changes, the less prepared the organization will be for a more robust labor market.  This is especially true when attempting to attract and retain high performance and high talent employees that occupy a small portion of the current supply.  These critical employees that represent 20 percent of your workforce and accomplish 80 percent of you results leave your organization or others for a variety of simple reasons:

  • More pay
  • Better career progression
  • Better working conditions
  • More professional development
  • Better work-life balance
  • Improved relationships

Regardless of how your organization has responded to the downturn, it is important to know you retention readiness.   Some key questions to assess your readiness include:

  • How competitive, equitable, and fair is your compensation system?
  • Do current jobs align well with the skills and ambitions of the workforce?
  • How committed is your organization to employee engagement?
  • How strong are the social relationships in the organization?
  • How well designed and effective is your recruitment and selection process?
  • How effectively do you deal with low performers?
  • How effectively do you evaluate the match of a hire in the first 90 to 120 days?
  • What is the status of work-life balance?
  • How well are managers trained to support, recognize, and reward employees?
  • Do you have a positive work environment without harassment, abuse, and discrimination?
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