As employers, those figures are frightening. We're careful to hire only the best workers, and once we have them, we want to keep them. We've previously argued why employees benefit by staying with the same company for at least 10 years. Now we want to supplement that advice with tips for companies on how to make workers want to stick around for decades.
Clearly, for employees to safely make a long-term commitment to an organization, the employer will need to give them good reason to stay. We advocate proactive efforts by employers to establish a culture that builds strong relationships with their employees — the kind that speak to a lengthy commitment, and perhaps even a commitment for life.
What can an employer do? We'd like to suggest the following "5 R's" of employee relationships:
1. Responsibility. Show your employees you trust them by giving them responsibilities that allow them to grow. Encourage them to gain new skills. Provide ample continuing education opportunities. Hire from within wherever possible, and give generous promotions at appropriate times.
2. Respect. Employees want to know they are respected and appreciated. As the saying goes, people may readily forget the things that you said, but they will always remember the way you made them feel. Many workplace legends are built around the horrific things weary and stressed-out managers said or did. But if managers make it a priority to show outward respect for employees on a regular basis, it will lead to a strong and enduring workplace culture as well as positive experiences and memories that they will never forget.
3. Revenue-sharing. Tie a part of your employees' wages to the company's performance. This will align their interests with the company's revenue and profit goals and will serve as an inherent incentive to stay with the company as it grows. By making the fixed cost of payroll inherently more variable under differing business conditions, you can make your company more resilient and agile, while also treating your employees exceptionally well.
4. Reward. The rewards you give your employees should speak to their emotional needs and should go beyond their monetary compensation. Recognition in front of the company, company and department parties, service projects, lunches with the boss, logo clothing, handwritten notes, etc., can all contribute to the positive culture of the company and can be good morale builders as well.
5. Relaxation Time. Be generous with time off. Despite the hard economy, provide sufficient time for sick days, family vacations, new babies, etc. Pacing workflow can be highly beneficial to enduring employee relationships. You should expect and even demand high-quality performance, but it is unreasonable to expect a continual level of pressure at 100 percent. Allow employees the chance to catch their breath from one assignment to the next with the help of team-building activities or mini break periods over the course of the day.
It is important to remember that a long-term commitment requires effort in both directions. While it's fully understandable that most organizations look askance at perpetual "hoppers," remember that if you expect and hope that employees will make and keep long-term commitment to your company, it will be equally vital that you give them good reasons to stay.