A recent survey of over 1800 respondents highlighted a serious disconnect between employers and employees, identifying a significant difference between the factors which each group believe to be significant when voluntary resignations take place.
Factors identified in the survey are also in line with what I hear from individuals when they voluntarily leave an organization:
Pay and Benefits
Benchmark competitors and join a pay club to keep abreast of what is being offered in the local area or industry sector.
Management and Leadership Style
“I can’t remember what he said but I can remember how he made me feel” or a similar expression is an increasingly common point of view.
Organizations based in suburbs, without a free car park, away from public transit or some distance from bars where friends gather after work struggle to retain the best people.
Working Hours and Work-Life Balance
Employers who insist on long working hours, especially where there is no flexibility or working remotely options tend to have higher than ideal levels of staff turnover.
Stress and Health Issues
Exceptionally stressful workplaces turn people off, compounded where there are no health and well-being initiatives in place.
Cultures may alter following a merger or acquisition, whilst individuals suited to a specific culture may change as they start a family; begin looking after aging parents etc.
Career Advancement and Promotion
Forward-thinking organizations recognize that huge benefits result from promoting from within and provide opportunities to ambitious individuals to test themselves at an early stage.
Corporate Social Responsibility, Environment and Ethics
Employers that don’t embrace a green approach and operate in an unethical way typically struggle to keep hold of their key talent.
Honesty, Trust and Integrity
Deceitful communication and broken promises engender an atmosphere of negativity where good people walk away.
Engagement, Morale and Motivation
Low productivity and poor customer service often results from low levels of engagement, morale and motivation and leads to voluntary attrition where employees become disenchanted.
This is a guest post by Timothy Holden, Founder of Toronto Training and HR, a provider of HR Consulting and Training services. Timothy is a regular contributor to Pivotal Post and has written popular articles such as 7 Signs Your Employees May Be About To Quit and 10 Hidden Return-On-Investments (ROIs) HR Delivers.
HR tends to be one of the last areas considered by start-ups in my experience, but this can be something of an oversight. Most start-ups by their very nature are founded by entrepreneurial individuals, who quite rightly may invest most of their energies in selling, meeting customer demands and cash flow. However, start-ups reach a point where they need to “employ a stranger” for the first time, when they can no longer fill a vacancy with family, friends or ex-colleagues. It’s at this stage that start-ups need to enlist services of an HR Professional who can help them build an employer brand, develop HR policies, recruit best talent and setup a competitive compensation structure.
Smaller employers, which naturally include start-ups, lose out to more established organizations on securing the best talent. Perhaps their website is not particularly professional, their Google ranking is pretty low, their address is not a fancy downtown location or simply job seekers with relevant skills/experience have never even heard of them. Effective employer branding drives a greater quantity and quality of applicants to adverts on the likes of Monster and Workopolis, and proves crucial in maximizing the likelihood of candidates showing up for interview and accepting job offers when offered.
Robust policies around topics such as bullying & harassment, dismissals and termination, misconduct, performance and working hours reduce the chance of costly and time-consuming tribunals. Experienced HR Professionals, Consultants and HR Outsourcing Firms can develop all necessary policies, contracts and offer letters. Law firms can also be used to compliment your existing HR resource ensuring all documentation and policies comply with all relevant Employment Standard Acts and legislation.
Interviewing and Recruitment
Trained interviewers tend to hire the best person and also possess the skills to sell the job and organization to interviewees who may be somewhat reluctant to join a start-up. Start-ups do not normally have the benefit of speculative approaches from applicants and have to go out and find the best, possibly using the benefit of starting a job that no-one else has previously undertaken which undoubtedly appeals to some people.
Pay and Benefits
Without the latest data on compensation trends in Ontario, start-ups can struggle to offer a competitive package, compounded by the scenario of limited benchmarking data. Entrepreneurs often believe they have their finger on the pulse of their marketplace, but these numbers change rapidly and employers with a limited track record may need to pay more to ensure high-achievers join them rather than more established organizations.
As the world economy teeters on the brink due to the Eurozone crisis, HR must be constantly seeking ways to demonstrate value is being added to the bottom line. Some of these ROIs are obvious in the form of reducing absence rates and cutting time or cost per hire, but others are less well-known. Based on a recent presentation at “Raising Productivity” seminar, it is recommended to focus on the following hidden ROIs:
This can be expressed in terms of per employee or as a percentage of annual revenue.
Level of responsiveness shown
To avoid accusations of bureaucracy and paper-shuffling, calculate the time to respond to a particular issue or the time to resolve the problem.
New clients often find it difficult to measure performance objectively so we sometimes work with them to define a “problem employee” and then determine the percentage of problem employees, rates for rehabilitation/termination and costs of termination.
Equally tricky is the definition of “key talent” but once this has been established it is important to quantify rates of satisfaction, retention and cost. It makes sense to look at the talent pipeline too by assessing employees hired from competitors and attrition per department or job title.
As budgets get squeezed and pay raises become less commonplace, why not work out average salary of employees, salary deviation by job level and cost of benefits as a percentage of salary or a percentage of revenue?
Employees with high levels of job satisfaction work harder and give a better customer service in our opinion. With this in mind why not include in your annual survey topics such as level of empowerment, satisfaction with compensation and clarity with organization vision?
Diversity and compliance
In order to employ a workforce that reflects your customer base, record changes to gender split, ethnicity, percentage of disabled people employed etc.
Canada faces a huge challenge later this century with its aging population, and I read with interest the recent Globe and Mail feature on immigration as a way to provide a solution (you might want to visit the link below):
With this in mind it may be appropriate to gauge changes to the number of employees eligible for retirement and early retirement.
We use this category as a catch-all for metrics which include HR complaints, average time to resolve complaints, legal fees and settlement costs/penalties.
To conclude, talk in numbers to be accepted as a true business partner by senior management!
As the economy in Ontario slows down in 2012, a new dimension is being added to home working.
Some organizations are not in a position to raise pay, and since the beginning of the year an increasing number of headlines about pay freezes and reduced hours have become commonplace. However, many employees can be motivated by working from home. If offered to everyone, it can be a cost-effective way of retaining key talent and ensuring that levels of engagement remain high.
Working from home is not designed just for employees with family responsibilities; it can be just as effective for sports-minded individuals who want to be able to train or those with hobbies because it saves time. Telecommuting saves the cost and time of real commuting. Promoting working from home for all staff for at least one day a week can result in reduced overheads for employers. And there other benefits too:
- Increased productivity – employees may get distracted less. While they would be surrounded by the comforts of home and some may indeed be tempted to turn on the TV or play with their kids/pets, others may thrive away from the constant interruptions that exist in any office environment.
- Reduced absence – someone with a contagious illness such as a cold is less likely to infect colleagues.
- Cut the costs of premises – less space is needed, with fewer desks and chairs.
- Increased loyalty – creating a home working environment that fits with childcare or eldercare responsibilities is unlikely to be replicated elsewhere, thus minimizing the possibility of attrition.
- Slash the amount of time spent in meetings – a national law firm now holds meetings in Second Life, the social networking website.
- Eliminates geographic constraints - employers based in the less than attractive geographic locations of Ontario may encounter skills shortages, and offer home working to remove the need to live in the area.
- Extended vacations – providing the opportunity to work remotely in what may be a quiet time of year may lead to increased commitment in the future.
- Improved chance of parents returning to work – providing a genuine edge when seeking new recruits over the competition.
- Longer hours – employees may spend time working that they would normally spend commuting and there is the chance of optional overtime such as pregnant employees making up hours spent at ante-natal classes.
- Improved chance of attracting people with a disability – ensuring that the organization becomes a more diverse employer and more able to satisfy the needs of disabled clients or customers.
- Reduced carbon footprint – organizations that strive to be green can demonstrate their environmental credentials by reducing commuting and putting fewer vehicles on the road.
However it is important to consider the following issues:
- Managing people from a distance can be a challenge – it may be tempting to check up on home workers by telephone, email or a ‘drive-by’. However, these checks may end up leaving employees disenchanted with a process originally designed to engage. It may be wiser to invest in some remote time and attendance software, or programs that enable you to check what your remote workers are up to in a less intrusive manner.
- Trusting employees to undertake their work – certain cultural barriers may need to be overcome. Some workers won’t be used to the idea, and some roles may not be suited to it. People may interpret the move as a way of edging them out, whilst others may feel aggrieved if their colleagues enjoy the benefits of flexible working while they can’t.
- Managing employee’s output as opposed to input – judging people by quantifiable measures can be easier for a salesperson than a customer services executive, looking at what value they add rather than what hours they work.
- Respecting employee’s private time – lunch is still lunch.
- Work-life balance – burnout can still occur because the hours get blurred and some home workers end up working too hard, particularly at the moment when our clients report an increase in “presenteeism” even when workloads are reducing.
- Job insecurity – in these days of layoffs and downsizing home workers can feel vulnerable as they are not ‘in the line of fire’.
- Adopting different communication methods – it may be necessary to set up a webcam, broadband, Skype, data card for internet access etc.
- Data security – in our experience we recommend a virtual private network (VPN) that can’t be hacked, a hosted service, strong firewalls and software that encrypts the hard drive. While these services sound expensive, compare these costs to those that would be incurred if you lost your entire client list or information databases to hackers.
- Working hours and handbooks – contracts and handbooks may need to be amended, whilst timesheets may need to be provided if there is time and attendance software involved. Disciplinary rules around dress code and appearance may need to be revised.
- Job descriptions and person specifications – may need to be altered to reflect revised duties and responsibilities for home workers.
- Reward – should employees benefit from a subsidized restaurant, meal allowance or luncheon vouchers then a sum commensurate with the amount involved may need to be provided. A TTC or Metrolinx pass may need to be removed or amended. In addition, the figures involved with overtime or shift pay may need to be amended, as will the bonuses paid for team working where the home worker is no longer working as part of that team. A job evaluation may need to take place to ensure there are no issues around gradings and equal pay.
- Trade unions – home workers need to have equal rights in terms of union membership.
Certain individuals will not be able to adjust to home working. They miss the bouncing of ideas off others, ‘water cooler moments’ and may struggle with IT issues or motivation. One size does not fit all or all jobs, but making home working available is guaranteed to improve the employer’s attractiveness to both new and existing employees. To measure the effectiveness, consider an employee satisfaction survey that calculates the levels of absenteeism and attrition rate before and after its introduction.
In these testing, most organizations seek cost savings without really considering how their actions will affect their employer brand and reputation. Flexible working provisions can mean that you can save your team, department or organization a few dollars and simultaneously make you a more attractive place to work.
In the current turbulent economic environment, organizations that do not change are likely to be left behind. So from a seasonal perspective, what lessons can be learned from how to embed change effectively in 2012?
C is for COMPETENCIES
Employers today operate in uncharted waters and the status quo is gone, possibly forever. High-performing organizations that want to succeed need to constantly be seeking ways to tweak, to enhance, and in some cases revolutionize the way they operate. Leaders must learn how to lead change and individuals must become change agents. In short change is THE core competency for any organization that wants to thrive in the chaotic world we now inhabit.
H is for HUMAN DYNAMICS
Embrace the human dynamics by recognizing people change from the inside out (when they choose to change) not by outside-in force. They must accept change, respond, then commit to take action. Outside-in practices such as top-down communications or imposing new practices cause resistance and anxiety.
R is for REACTION
The ideal scenario is to generate a string of interactions, each creating a by-product that starts another reaction. When the number of reactions grows exponentially, you get a cascade: one reaction leads to another. Interactions that generate other interactions can produce a dramatic effect. As one person talks to others, and they talk to more, the number of conversations grows exponentially, creating powerful increases in the speed and spread of change.
I is for INDICATORS
Only when the culture has been evaluated in detail can change be effective, and our approach (as HR Professionals) is to assess the following indicators:
- Leadership and management effectiveness
- Organization behaviours
- Receptiveness to change
S is for SPONSORSHIP
Sponsorship must come from the CEO. Without it, the effort will fail. CEO sponsorship will ensure open communications, trust and objectivity.
T is for TALENT
In Canada’s multicultural and multi-generational workforce, many people possess different, but hidden talents. Uncover the hidden talents of your people and use them to your team’s advantage. Employees who are seen as unique contributors become more engaged and passionate about their work—they become enthusiastic and ooze creativity.
M is for MEASURES
A before and after review is needed with precise metrics, in order to gauge the impact. We normally conduct a survey or series of interviews on the basis of:
- Readiness to change
A is for ACCOUNTABILITY
Follow up the decisions you reach with action whilst creating a picture of what personal accountability looks like. Delegate specific assignments to specific people, set a date for a follow-up meeting in which everyone reports progress and don’t tolerate lame excuses.
S is for STEPS OF CHANGE
In summary, we propose the following:
- Instill a sense of urgency
- Form a powerful coalition
- Create then communicate the vision
- Empower others
- Plan for some short-term wins
- Consolidate improvements and sustain the momentum
- Institutionalize the new approaches