Job Stickiness & Employee Retention Rate

Salary is important, but it's not everything. What can you do to retain good employees?

Successful Web sites, experts say, possess a quality called “stickiness,” or the ability to keep luring back people who happened onto the site in the first place.

It’s the same way with jobs. In today’s healthy job market – where job seekers in even non-technology areas can find positions fairly quickly – employers must do something to make their companies “sticky” if they want to avoid costly turnover.

What contributes to stickiness? Obviously, pay is important. Employees may love their jobs and their company, but if their incomes lag comparable jobs by more than 5 to 10 percent, it’s goodbye stickiness and goodbye job. Similarly, benefits have to be at market levels. They need not be great – although thoughtful benefits are a way smart companies retain workers – but they can’t be markedly worse than benefits available at most other comparable jobs.

Yet pay and benefits, assuming they’re competitive, are not the prime reasons employees stay at their jobs. Other factors, which generally fall under the category of job satisfaction, create stickiness. And ironically, satisfied jobholders might not even notice them. Examine whether these factors are present in your current job and – very important – whether they are present at any job you may be considering.

A sense of purpose. This may sound ridiculously basic, but a jobholder should know what his or her job is and what it’s supposed to accomplish. The person doing the job also should know to whom he or she is responsible. The manager, supervisor or boss should be empowered to say “yes, do this” or “no, don’t do that.” Someone I know at a large publishing company plagued by high turnover started a job and then learned that the person who hired her was fired. For several weeks, she didn’t know who her boss was or who was supposed to approve her decisions.

Core values that are understood and rewarded. Every organization has its own values. They may be wacky or unwritten (for example: as long as you work like a dog, your hours are flexible; if you kiss up to your egomaniacal boss you will be OK.) But unless everyone knows what these values are and believes they are followed with consistency, satisfaction drops. Suppose our flexible workaholic company suddenly penalized an employee for leaving early one day. That action would dissolve the stickiness that had been established over time among everyone.

Civil behavior. Another seeming given. But some workplaces are populated by those we may politely label “difficult.” If they’re not screaming or slamming doors or berating colleagues or subordinates, they’re ignoring them, belittling them or regaling them with stories of their own brilliance. These clunkers may be hard to spot when you’re being considered for a job, but they can make any position and company decidedly unsticky. If prospective bosses or colleagues are described as “very demanding” or “brilliant, but temperamental,” watch out.

Finally, ask anyone you speak to about turnover. If too many people have left for better jobs, maybe you should too.

(c) Article Copyright 2000 Evan Cooper. Syndicated by ParadigmTSA

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