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“How Do We Retain Employees?”

July 9th, 2013 by Leah Elms

Top Talent

Employee turnover is a common challenge for most employers. You want to keep those top sellers, top culture creators, top producers and top team players. We are often asked the best ways to retain employees.

Survey Says …

The sheer amount of research and resources dedicated to employee satisfaction illustrates the importance of the issue, and the findings might surprise you. For one, more money is usually far down on the list of ways to keep your best talent. Job satisfaction is typically the real issue.

When we perform employee engagement trainings, we focus on what employees are doing and for whom they are working. It is critical to evaluate the culture of the company, the goals of the company and how each employee views his or her purpose and role in the company.  Individually, we learn about what employees draw from their managers or senior advisors, as feedback from these people is critical. Satisfaction isn’t just the work you do. A strong HR strategy is one that helps train managers to help increase team aspects.

Studies have found work/life balance is another critical factor in job satisfaction. How this balance translates into expectations varies from person to person and generation to generation. Managing millennials is a hot topic for just this reason. People come into a job wanting to find a satisfying experience at work, but they don’t want it to detract from their lives outside of work, whether their priority is family, friends or going to every Indianapolis Colts game on the schedule.

Employees want to feel like their jobs support their lifestyles. That desire can be translated into vacation days, a pay increase, more attention to personal and emotional energy, or making sure an employee’s stress level doesn’t burn them out. People want balance. They want to be allowed to be the person they want to be. All of these factors affect their sense of satisfaction at work.

Top 5 Things Employees Seek

Forbes reports on CEB’s findings from its quarterly study of 50,000 employees over the second half of 2012, coming up with the top five thing people are looking for when they are seeking a new job. You can use these items as starting points for figuring out how to work on these areas of your company. Ask yourself the associated questions. And the top 5 are:

  • Stability: Do your employees buy into your company’s long-term goals? Do these goals provide potential for employees to grow?
  • Compensation: Do your employees feel well compensated?
  • Respect: Do your employees feel respected by their peers, managers and leadership?
  • Health Benefits: Are you communicating the value of the health benefits you’re offering? Are the benefits competitive in your market?
  • Work-Life Balance: What kinds of quality-of-life issues are a priority for your employees and are your helping support those priorities?

Demographics Matter

It is also critical to know who your employees are. Demographic information is a useful indicator. When we carry out exit interviews for employers, we often hear from employees that compensation is important. What we have also learned is that younger people don’t care as much about money and health care benefits, but when those same young people start building families, money and health care benefits become more important to them. Once the family is established, retirement packages become more of a priority.

You need to know their demographics so that you respond accordingly. Get creative in what your compensation package looks like based on the demographic you’re employing.

Personal growth and development are also really important. Offering classes, training, seminars, coaching and mentoring all show your developing employees that you want them to excel and succeed in your company. They see that you are invested in them as a person.

What About My Industry?

Different industries have different challenges, but the struggle to retain employees is across the board. The differences typically lie in what people want more of, but the common ground is that people want “more” of something. Your actions and thoughts behind a gesture as an employer must fit your audience. (On a small scale, some employees will wholeheartedly appreciate a tray of homemade cookies while others will expect gourmet cupcakes.)

Start Evaluating Satisfaction

I know it sounds too simple, but giving your employees a platform to have a voice is a win for you and them. We have found that SurveyMonkey is a great tool to help businesses really figure out where they should focus and what they should do. Using simple surveys — some only five questions long — we can learn what employees would recommend to make your company a better place to work.

We can then drill down to figure out exactly what that looks like and start working on an employee satisfaction strategy. The key is to not let that survey just sit around. Let your employees be heard and don’t forget to listen and act on what you hear.

Be sure you are consistent and realistic, too. Once you carry out the survey, communicate the findings with your employees and let them know where you’ve going from here. Say to them, “This is what we heard you say and these are the three things we can do over the next two months. This is what we’re going to do over the next year.” Be sure to evaluate how things progress and get more feedback. Have someone in place to support these types of initiatives.

Annual or more frequent reviews are a great time to get qualitative feedback on employee satisfaction. Open the door to the conversation to find out what your top employees are really seeking. Make reviews meaningful times for each employee. Affirm their place in the company, compliment their work and discuss their goals. Do what you can to make employee retention a more manageable challenge.

To find out how Servant HR can help your company retain employees, please contact us.

As a tight election season comes to a close, one thing we all want from our candidates is a little more insight into what makes them tick — and perhaps what might tick them off. We are in essence hiring this person to carry out a four-year contract. In this spirit, we are taking a stab at the DiSC profiles of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.* Our predictions are…

Barack Obama: High D and I

Mitt Romney: High D and C

Borrowed directly from the DiSC Workplace and Classic 2.0 Profile Reports, if our guesses are right on the candidates, these assessments represent the following classical profile patterns:

Barack Obama: Inspirational Pattern

  • Emotions: accepts aggression; downplays need for affection
  • Goal: control of their environment or audience
  • Judges others by: projection of personal strength, character, and social power
  • Influences others by: charm, direction, intimidation; use of rewards
  • Value to the organization: acts as a “people mover”; initiates, demands, compliments, disciplines
  • Overuses: attitude that “the ends justify the means”
  • Under Pressure: becomes manipulative, quarrelsome, or belligerent
  • Would increase effectiveness with more: genuine sensitivity; willingness to help others succeed in their own personal development

Mitt Romney: Creative Pattern

  • Emotions: accepts aggression; restrains expression
  • Goal: dominance; unique accomplishments
  • Judges other by: personal standards; progressive ideas for accomplishing tasks
  • Influences others by: ability to pace development of systems and innovative approaches
  • Value to the organization: initiates or designs changes
  • Overuses: bluntness; critical or condescending attitude
  • Under Pressure: becomes bored with routine work; sulks when restrained; acts independently
  • Fears: lack of influence; failure to achieve their standards
  • Would increase effectiveness with more: warmth; tactful communication; effective team cooperation; recognition of existing sanctions

While it is fun to guess what our leaders might be, at Servant HR, we use DiSC for more practical reasons. DiSC is a leading personal assessment tool and one we turn to on a regular basis to help clients assess potential job candidates, new hires and current employees. Before 2011, there was very little nuance from quadrant to quadrant in the D, I, S and C pieces of the pie that make up the heart of DiSC, but there have been major improvements. And DiSC can be very reasonably priced.

The DiSC tool is a highly enhanced personality test set up for the workplace. The DiSC assessment is just one of many tools available to evaluate people. DiSC results should be viewed as pieces of a puzzle. They should not be used as comprehensive appraisals. The first step for an employer when they want to perform an assessment is to define exactly what information they want to glean.  If they want to hire someone with a specific skill set or proclivity, DiSC might not be the right assessment.

In that case, a skill-type assessment would probably be more appropriate. You can find tests for sales ability, learning ability, or even determining how likely someone will be tardy or steal from your company!  If you are hiring for a particular position, there is an assessment out there for you. You just need to know where to look.

The reasons to use DiSC as part of your process, however, are many.  If you can understand where your team members fall on the DiSC quadrant, you can communicate with them and work with them more effectively. For example, a D and an S work completely differently. If you need them to work together well, you must understand their communication needs and what motivates them. DiSC can help you get those two divergent personality types working together so they can bring value to your team.

The cost to hire and train a new person is expensive. Employers want to make sure they made the right decision before they commit to a particular person. They want to know in which direction this person will tend to veer and where they want to go. This helps the employer evaluate if and how the person will grow with the company or organization. A DiSC analysis can also be a beneficial tool for narrowing a pool of prospective employees.

If you are interested in focusing on a current employee to support them or move them to another position in your company, a personality type assessment such as DiSC might be useful to see how they would perform in a management position or to see how you can help push them where they would be better fulfilled.

3 DiSC Dos and Don’ts

  1. Don’t let an untrained person evaluate results. You need to work with someone who has been trained on and has experience with the many nuances of DiSC analyses.
  2. Do accept each test-taker’s individuality. We are not waffling on the value of DiSC, but you must understand that not everyone tests well. This is important in analyzing results.
  3. Do take advantage of DiSC reporting options related to facilitators, culture, leaders and more. In addition to the initial report, a facilitator report can go to a person’s direct manager to help that person better put together teams that work well. The different profiles DiSC offers can shed light on a person’s leadership style, critical thinking tendencies and style of interacting with others. These types of attributes might be useful for assessing management potential, while a sales profile would illustrate how someone might fit in that job situation.

If you would like to learn more about DiSC or other assessment tools and how they can bring value to your staff, please contact Servant HR at 317-585-1688.

(*As you probably guessed, we did not speak to anyone associated with the Obama or Romney camps for this blog post. Though we based our predictions on decades of DiSC assessment usage as HR professionals, this blog post is strictly hypothetical.)


3 Policy Tips to Make Vacations More Relaxing

April 11th, 2012 by Leah Elms

By Leah Elms, Customer Service Representative

Tis the season for vacations. Whether they’re going on a spring break or a summer getaway, your employees will be planning and asking for time off. While there are many documented benefits to taking that break from work, it poses a few challenges for managers, as well. Here are some key areas that will assist you in navigating the curves on the road of PTO administration.

Know Your Policy

You need to be familiar with your company’s current protocol for acquiring vacation time as well as the spending of that time. There are many puzzle pieces to your company’s plan: mandated time off, accrual rates and caps, carry-over or use-it-or-lose-it, state mandates to pay out unused time and termination considerations — to name a few. Clear documentation and presentation of those policies to your staff help to prevent snags from the beginning. Companies may choose a traditional method such as specified amount of days as vacation days, sick days, and personal days. Others may use a combined PTO system; in essence, this is one large bucket which allows employees to use their time as they see fit. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages for both employer and employee. Both methods can be powerful recruiting and retention tools. If you have questions on which type is the best fit for your company, Servant HR is here to help you consider your options.

Manage Your Policy

Be sure you have clear, well-articulated guidelines for PTO use in place. Can you imagine if all your employees decided to take off the same week? What a nightmare! You need to think through how much notice will allow you to adequately fill the schedule in their absence. Requiring employees to request the time off in advance, with the exception of an emergency, alleviates this problem. An understanding of what constitutes an emergency must also be expressed. Does car trouble qualify? What about an attitude-adjustment day? How ill does a family member have to be? There will be instances when two employees request the same days off and there needs to be consideration for seniority, previous days off or the reason for the request.  Consistent managing and administration of your guidelines will play a key role in the overall satisfaction of your staff and their perception of your company’s plan.

Encourage Your Policy

Don’t let all these details scare you from encouraging your employees to take their well-deserved time off. Many studies show overworked employees are less productive and more prone to stress, exhaustion and illness. Clearly, both you and your co-workers benefit from a little rest and relaxation. Ensuring that it’s relaxing for all parties involved just takes some well-designed, managed policies.

So, take the time to evaluate your current plan. If it comes up lacking, the experts at Servant HR can assist you in implementing a policy that suits your company culture and then — go take a vacation!

Engaging Your Employees: Cornerstone Case Study

December 15th, 2011 by Leah Elms

By Leah Elms, Customer Service Representative

A Gallup poll based on over 30 years of research and more than 17 million employees shows “engaged employees are more productive, more profitable, more customer-focused, safer and more likely to withstand temptations to leave.” But how do employers actively engage their employees? Servant HR helps our clients answer these tough questions. We challenge the same-old-same-old thinking to meet the demands of today’s marketplace. Get your creative juices flowing by reading how we recently partnered with client Cornerstone Autism Center to implement a new way of interacting with its employees.

Company Profile: Cornerstone Autism Center improves the lives of children who struggle with autism, those who love them and those who provide therapy. Cornerstone offers caring, encouraging one-on-one treatment, resources to carry progress into family homes and daily life, and professional rewards for staff who serve. Cornerstone seeks to create a long-term resource for those affected by autism to thrive and succeed. The business has been a client of Servant HR since July 2010.

Engagement Challenge: The leaders of Cornerstone understand the importance of employee engagement. To grow and develop theirs, they asked us to successfully launch their entire new year in one business day. Success meant not only introducing and explaining HR initiatives, policies, handbook changes, goals and the company vision, but it also meant having a great time and communicating how integral each member was to the team. We began the planning by discussing what Cornerstone desired to accomplish both in tangible goals and the overall impression of the day. Filtering the schedule through the lens of engaging the employee was paramount its success.

While Cornerstone could sit employees in a room and hammer through our list of information, that would only reach one of its goals. If the business failed to engage its employees while communicating the details, the likelihood of them integrating these new concepts was slim. Cornerstone wanted the employees to know they were working for an organization that genuinely cared about them. This in turn, would make them passionate about their company and its goals.

Action: With this in mind, Servant HR worked with the Cornerstone leadership team to design the Make It Happen event. It began with hot drinks, pastries and fruit. We greeted the employees with a mixer game to allow them to get to know each other better in a fun way. Slideshows highlighted the progress of the past year — both in the physical changes of their locations and the amazing changes in families’ lives they had influenced.

The nuts and bolts of handbook changes were more palatable over chocolate fountains and fixings (a “Hershey’s Handbook”). Sitting through the new policies and procedures was more tolerable when employees knew there were two massage therapists waiting for them upstairs. Though we didn’t dole out shoulder rubs, members of our team at Servant HR were on hand to answer questions or just give a face to the address or voice that Cornerstone’s employees often read in email messages or hear on the phone.

Cornerstone also wanted this day to be a time of recognition. A survey sent out the week prior to the event asked employees to nominate a colleague who best exemplified the company mission statement. These nominations were tallied and the employees were recognized in front of their peers by the Cornerstone leadership team. Throughout the Make It Happen day, good food, fun, relationship-building, valuable insight and information were interspersed to create an all-around great time. Hors d’oeuvres and karaoke capped off the event.

Value: Following the Make It Happen event, every Cornerstone employee expressed appreciation to the company’s leadership team for being a part of this innovative company. Employees walked away from the day recharged and excited to be part of this amazing team. The event served as a valuable tool in Cornerstone’s efforts to support its tradition of successful employee retention and internal culture. Such engagement encourages employees to be more passionate about their personal responsibilities as well as the company’s overall goals and values. From the Servant HR perspective, we know that many Cornerstone employees are now more comfortable calling us to ask questions or discuss problems since they have met us in person.

Did this “event” take work and planning? Absolutely! Was it worth it? Without a doubt! (We have not even addressed the negative impact a disengaged employee has on your company. Give us a call and we’ll explain.) Cornerstone’s leadership team is already discussing plans for this fall’s Make It Happen event.

Your Employee Engagement: Has this case study raised some questions in your mind? What is the employee experience in your company? Do you know how to gauge this within your company? What strategies do you have in place to encourage healthy, engaged employees? Are you ready to begin implementing steps to improve it? Servant HR is ready to come alongside you to make your company the very best organization it can be. Contact us to get started.


Photo credit: Cornerstone Autism Center 



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