Kennebec Valley Chamber

Serving the Kennebec Valley, Maine Region

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Friday Report ~ July 17, 2015

Sit and stay a while - In a conversation with a colleague recently I was told of a company that was having trouble retaining employees. They traditionally hired young high school educated individuals and trained them for a brief period. The job was in the manufacturing field. The pay was moderate to good and the hours were 9-5. The owners felt that if they could keep these employees for more than 2 years they had hit the jackpot. They were convinced that the workforce today was simply not interested in an honest day’s work.

On the contrary, others are celebrated for working with one company for the majority of their lives on a regular basis. Peter Thompson, my predecessor, ran this chamber for 26 years. Dana Colwill retired from the Civic Center this week after 19 years. A study by the US DOL had the median time with one employer at 4.6 years as of 2014. While this is on the rise, it is a challenge for a company to lose an employee with 4+ years of experience. The cost to not only interview and hire, but to train to that level is substantial.

There is no doubt that a seasoned employee who knows your product or service is worth much more than you can afford to replace. So how do you avoid losing your best employees every 4 years? Here are some pointers from a website run by NAS Recruitment entitled “Talent Talk”

~Hire the right people in the first place—don’t try to fit round pegs into square holes; if you’re not getting good-fit applicants, don’t throw up your hands and settle for just anybody; look at your messaging—maybe it’s not connecting with the talent, character or personality you really want.

~ Tell candidates what your culture is like and what kind of person will do well in it (studies also show that culture is one of the most important considerations to most candidates—often right
behind benefits)

~Tell them honestly what the job you’re recruiting for is really about—even if you think it’s not exactly a glamour position (there’s nothing worse than finding out on your first day that your
new job is not at all what you expected)

~Tell employees how you’ll support their growth and development—and then do it

~Actually reward longevity; and don’t make your employees wait 10 or 20 years before you acknowledge the value of their commitment to your organization—begin at 1 or 5 years (of course, 20 years of service deserves bigger recognition than 5 years)

~Some organizations are choosing to reward more than simple longevity—instead, tying it to professional development and growth; that way, employees who continue to learn, grow and welcome new challenges are recognized for more than just showing up; if you decide to go
this route, make sure all of your employees have real opportunities to shine.

~Provide your managers with the training they need to become comfortable with giving recognition and creating meaningful presentations

~ Think about the kinds of awards you want to offer—choose a selection of gifts that will appeal to a wide diversity of employees; and create several levels of gifts, suitable to reward different

In closing, be honest with your applicants, and value those who chose to come work for you. Don’t tolerate poor performance, it’s insulting to the productive employees who work well.