Don’t Let the Good Ones Get Away:
Tips to Strengthen Staff Retention
OfficeTeam, a staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals, offers the following suggestions for keeping valued employees who may have other job opportunities to consider:
Reinforce your mission at every opportunity. Reminding employees of the bigger picture may provide motivation. Does your business enable people to work more efficiently or lead safer, healthier lives? What benefits does it provide for the community? Make sure employees know about the organization’s higher purpose.
Don’t equate busy with productive. Refrain from basing employee recognition on who is logging the most hours. Instead, reward people based on the results they generate in relation to the company’s objectives.
Learn from exit interviews. Learning the reasons for turnover can help you minimize further attrition.
Encourage people to take breaks. Make sure staff members take time for lunch breaks and regular vacations to avoid burnout.
Don’t assume people know they’re appreciated. There is no such thing as too much appreciation or praise for staff, as long as it’s specific, genuine and given in a timely manner.
Spend more time listening at staff meetings. Let your staff take the lead at meetings and listen. You may be surprised what you learn.
Don’t shut yourself off from employees. Managers may feel the need to focus on key projects and perhaps shut their doors, forward calls to voicemail and let e-mails pile up. Make it a point to be accessible so you can monitor individual performance and keep abreast of morale issues.
Finance Professionals Optimistic About 2005 Economy
Spurred by increasing consumer demand and an expanding workforce, U.S. corporate finance professionals expect the nation’s economy will grow at a moderate rate during 2005, according to a survey released by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP). Eighty-four percent of treasury and financial professionals expect the U.S. economy will grow at a moderate pace (between 2 percent and 4.9 percent) over the next 12 months. Fifteen percent of respondents expect the economy to grow more slowly (less than 2 percent) while less than 1 percent of financial professionals expect the economy to contract in 2005. “The results of our survey show that U.S. corporations are planning and implementing their business strategies for 2005 based largely on a positive financial outlook,” said AFP President Jim Kaitz.
Overall, 54 percent of financial professionals expect business conditions to improve over the next 12 months. Thirty-seven percent believe business conditions in 2005 will remain similar to those in 2004, while 8 percent believe business conditions will worsen in the coming year. The survey also asked financial professionals for their views on other key economic indicators:
• 56 percent believe consumer demand will pick up in 2005.
• 37 percent report their company will increase its overall workforce in 2005.
• 40 percent expect their company to decrease the amount of outstanding long-term or short-term debt in 2005.
• 68 percent expect business investment to expand in the next 12 months.
THE DIET FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS
While every company wants to feel “special,” many organizations focus so intently on their uniqueness that they forget most of the challenges they face are the same as those faced by their neighbors down the street. Rebecca A. Morgan, president of Fulcrum Consulting Works, Inc., an Ohio-based consultant and expert on “Lean Manufacturing” says, “In my experience, the 80/20 rule applies when looking across industries, as well as within them. Eighty percent of a company’s business issues are basically the same as those faced by every other business; it’s critical that we learn from others. In the mid ’80s, I left Stouffer’s frozen food division and accepted a position with TRW’s Aircraft Components Group. The transition was easy because the similarities were more widespread than were the differences.”
Lean Manufacturing was originally developed by Toyota for the manufacturing environment, but its three main principles
apply across industries:
1) Focus on the Customer’s Perception of Value
What your customer values, he will pay for, while costs for things not valued by the customer come out of your pocket. And not all markets value the same things. For example, compare Cross pens and Bic pens: people who buy Bic pens just want something to write with that won’t make a mess. The people who make Bic pens don’t need to spend a lot of time polishing them and making sure every pen looks perfect. People who buy Cross pens are also buying how the pens look in their pockets and feel in their hands. The outside of a Cross pen has a different quality standard than that of a Bic pen. Over-finishing the Bic adds cost, but not value; under-finishing the Cross pen saves cost at the expense of customer-perceived value. Two markets, two different value propositions. Know what your market values.
2) Eliminate Waste
Waste is anything that adds cost without adding value the customer is willing to pay for.
Airlines should have asked themselves years ago: “Why are we offering food in coach class? Those customers look to us for safe, comfortable, affordable transportation, not food.” Southwest Airlines realized it was in the transportation business and has been successful while not offering in-flight meals. Some wasteful activities can be stopped immediately, such as useless reports, useless meetings and unnecessary controls. Other activities may be necessary now, because you currently don’t know how to run your business without them, but it’s worthwhile looking for ways to do so.
3) Deploy Continuous Improvement
Satisfaction with the status quo, or with sporadic improvement, allows your competition to gain ground and pass you, leaving your business gasping for survival. In every business, if you’re not getting better every day, you’re losing ground. And your biggest threat may be in another industry or another country right now.