Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 18, 2019

Got good employees? Here’s how to keep them

Losing an employee, or a group of employees, hurts a business. The cost of onboarding is an obvious factor, but there’s also the institutional knowledge and customer relations the individual takes when he or she departs.

That’s why companies have to be proactive, especially in a tight labor market, to make sure their staff is happy and content.

“Retention is hard, and you have to have a strong engagement program in play,” says Elizabeth Williams, executive vice president at Randstad. “It’s not just a holiday bonus. Employers need to survey them throughout the year, take satisfaction surveys on at least a quarterly basis to see what’s going on in their workforce.

“Right now, especially in the Nashville area and also in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Memphis, options are plentiful and talent is not. Once you have a quality employee in your mix, you want to do everything you can to hold on to them.”

That often means taking an old benefit, such as tuition reimbursement, and rethinking it for the modern era, explains Chris Nichols, client solutions manager at Endevis, a recruitment process consulting and systems firm.

“Many companies are creating student loan reimbursement programs where they work with a new hire to pay down that debt,” Nichols adds. “It’s structured in such a way that the longer they stay, the higher the percentage the company pays toward that student loan.

“It’s something younger employees really value, and it keeps them engaged and around because they see the real benefit of it.”

Overall, experts say, employers are learning to be more open when it comes to tailoring hours and job descriptions so that they can get and keep a broader talent pool.

“I am hearing about retail outlets offering employees as little as four to eight hours a week so they can work when they have available time,” Nichols says.

“Employers are realizing they can no longer be the total decision maker when it’s a tight market. They have to work with employees, be more flexible.”

Younger employees want to create and work on projects, so employers need to be open to that, for example. And they want more learning and development opportunities because they don’t want to see their job as just something that lets them pay their bills.

“No employer is ever going to have a 100% retention rate, but they should be working to make sure that when employees do leave, it’s not just for money or better benefits. They should only be losing people when the new opportunity is a steppingstone to that individual’s long-term goals.”

– Joe Morris