Attracting and retaining the right people: Butteriss on human resources
It is easy to think of attraction and retention only in terms of compensating people, but that is only part of the picture. In the present economy, two factors often make it difficult for small businesses to attract and retain the right employees. The first is the scarcity of workers in many fields; despite Canada’s steadily high unemployment rate, there is full employment and even a shortage in many of the business areas occupied by small, new companies. The second and closely related factor is the fierce competition that exists for highly educated, skilled, or trained people in areas such as software development, Web-based technologies, biotechnology, and other advanced technological services.
Compensation is only part of the story
Compensation must be reasonably competitive to attract and retain the best employees in the field, but for a small company, that is only part of the story. Often, it must combine its compensation offer with other incentives such as: a stimulating, team-oriented, and flexible work environment; a personal and responsive atmosphere; opportunities for self-direction, initiative, reward, and advancement; and creative bonuses including profit sharing. Large companies can rarely offer these things to the same degree.
Areas that have a major impact on attraction and retention are:
1. Marketing Membership in the Company
- flexibility and good communications: a flexible work environment, broader-based decision making than in large companies, real dialogue between workers and management
- interesting work and opportunities for development: self-directed, responsible work, including opportunities to take initiative, innovate, and participate in decision making, and to acquire new skills, keep up to date in one’s specialization, and advance
- innovative forms of bonuses, including profit-sharing
- the feeling of membership or belonging that the above factors can deliver
2. Values-Based Business Goals and Practices
- The Family-Friendly Workplace
- Work Aligned with Values
3. Flexibility and Good Communications
4. Interesting Work and Opportunities for Development
Twelve steps to attracting and retaining good employees
Strong motivators in attracting and retaining good employees are: being part of the creative process and feeling membership in your company. Those who are just there for the bucks can be easily enticed away to another firm. Anyone can sign a bonus cheque! But the way in which work gets done at your company can draw the people you need to you and keep them with you.
We have already begun to enumerate some of the methods by which you can attract, stimulate, and hold valued company members. Below is a 12-point overview of the most effective principles now being used by leading human resources experts and practitioners.
1.Hire for attitude and aptitude, train for role and function. The main question with most job openings is whether to fill internally or hire externally. The result of going outside can dramatically affect the morale of existing staff who thought they were ready for a step up. If you take care to hire people with potential for growth and then provide the means and avenues for it, you are more likely to retain highly skilled and motivated employees.
2.Be a leader rather than just the boss. Make your employees a part of the company, the community, or the project. Use techniques such as giving regular updates on the status of the company, its ups and downs, its vision and objectives. This type of forum gives staff members a sense of their importance, breeds loyalty, and is an opportunity to share thoughts and participate in decision making.
3.Poor fit with the company culture is the main reason that new hires do not work out. This re-emphasizes the need to set out clear corporate goals and have hiring procedures that are carefully coordinated with the overall business plan.
4.Prove that employees are the important asset that management likes to claim they are. Corporate culture plays a major role in PROFIT 100 companies’ attempts to retain and motivate employees. Flat hierarchies, fast decision making, improved communications and employee empowerment are all part of the picture. Remember that to retain good employees, they must continue to buy into the company’s culture even if that changes as the company grows. So communications and cooperative decision making are a must.
5.Use work projects and teams. Encourage an open discussion on products, services, and work projects. Work projects and the creation of project teams allow you to group compatible creative people together, provide an atmosphere of belonging and a sense of accomplishment, and identify and reward achievement. Create excitement for new employees with different styles of work such as: self-managed teams, multitask assignments, unstructured work, projects and work groups that match high achievers together. In technical groups, leave time for review of project progress and discussion on any aspect of the process.
6.Create communication. Don’t expect to put employees in cubicles and get the job done. Constant communications is a basic in retaining employees.
7.Look for ways of giving the creative employee new responsibilities. Analyze the work done by senior staff and give some of it to that employee. Positive responses can occur when an employee sees that he or she is now doing part of the work formerly done by an owner, executive, supervisor, or foreperson.
8.Send employees on management training courses. The benefit will be twofold: they will be better prepared to assume more responsibility, and they will understand some of the situations that ownership and management must deal with.
9.Provide training. Cross-training for multiple roles within the company can provide richer job satisfaction through variety and opportunity for advancement. Designation/certification-related training can be of particular value to some employees.
10.High-achieving and creative people work better when they are happy and this can be accomplished by fulfilling their need for recognition and appreciation. Recognition awards for superior performance should be established beyond compensation. Timely recognition of contributions and input is important to reinforce the sense of importance and personal contribution to company successes.
11.Provide creature comforts, shared responsibility in the workplace, and fun.
12.Live up to expectations created of jobs for new employees or risk disappointment and early departure. Don’t fail to meet the commitments you announced in attracting the employees, especially commitments for training.
Copyright© 1999 by Margaret Butteriss. All rights reserved. Published by John Wiley & Sons Canada, Inc.
Butteriss, M. (1999).Help Wanted: The Complete Guide to Human Resources for Canadian Entrepreneurs.Toronto: John Wiley & Sons. pp.18-29