Employee Retention - How to keep staff

Employee Retention
Retention rates, along with absenteeism provide a pretty accurate barometer of an organisation's health. Different occupational sectors will have traditional norms. Hotel and catering, call centres, and retail are amongst those which have higher natural wastage. The civil service and local government tend to be at the lower end.

Whichever the case, human resource professionals should have statistics regarding such matters, which should be reviewed regularly. This is often done on a quarterly basis, as seasonal variations can occur in some cases.
Overall, the retention of staff is about making sure all of the basic building blocks are in place.

These include things like pay, working conditions, positive and supportive management, and so on. (See motivation for details.)

However, some organisations are taking specific steps to make them more attractive than their competitors.

Flexible working

There are a number of forms of flexible working which operate in an increasing number of organisations. The first of these is flexitime.

Whilst the detail of flexitime differs from place to place, most systems operate under broadly similar lines. Staff need to fulfil their contractual obligations in terms of hours worked. How they do so can, up to a point, be controlled by them. Ordinarily, they will be required to be present for what are deemed 'core hours'. These hours are usually from 10am until 4am. The remainder of their contractual obligation can be to suit them. Frequently, such systems allow for extra hours to be worked up to a maximum of one day's equivalent, allowing each individual to take an additional day's leave each month.

Clearly, there are attractions to staff of such systems. A long weekend each month is an obvious benefit. Others who find flexitime attractive are those with obligations such as school runs and childcare.

Another increasingly common approach in organisations is the introduction of home working. The two ends of the spectrum here, are allowing staff to work one day a week from home through to only requiring them to be in the office for one day a week.

Clearly, this is able to be an option as a result of much work being carried out via computers, email, and telephone. In the case of the former, having one day a week working from home is an obvious attraction. For managers it is important that clear guidelines are set and performance is monitored closely.

Where staff are required to only be present for one day a week, to file reports, attend meetings, and the like, there is a further advantage to the business. It allows them to save costs on resources by using systems like 'hot desking'. This is where staff do not have a permanent desk, but have a mobile filing cabinet that they can wheel to any of the existing desks when they are on site. The company needs less office space, and less furniture.

Cafeteria Remuneration

Some companies are adopting a more flexible way of remunerating their staff. Instead of all staff on a certain grade receiving the same basic package, staff can themselves have some control over their rewards.

Typically, a remuneration package will come with a basic salary plus a number of 'add ons'. These might include things like healthcare, pensions, company cars, and so forth. If we take healthcare as an example, a woman who has that as part of her package may derive absolutely no value or benefit from it. She may well be covered by her husband's company deal.

To this end, what is known as 'cafeteria remuneration' is seen as an alternative. As ever, details differ from place to place. Generally, though, a system will follow these broad lines. The overall package is valued at a certain figure; let us say £40,000 (that is the total value of the equivalent of a traditional package). Individuals must take a certain, stipulated percentage as their salary - commonly 80%.

The remainder (in the above example £8,000 worth of value) can be used to buy benefits from a menu set by the company. These may well include healthcare and so on. It may also include the opportunity to 'buy' additional days leave, up to a stated maximum. In this way, the woman from the example given, need not have the healthcare, but could opt for an additional fortnight's leave instead. Some staff opt to take the full 100% in salary and buy their own benefits on the open market, or not.

In this way, staff can design a remuneration package which suits their needs best. The organisation, of course, offers the menu of benefits it feels appropriate, together with a 'price list'. Ordinarily, any package put in place by any member of staff can only be reviewed at certain points. This is often every two or three years. This means that as an individual's needs change, so can the shape of their rewards.
Recruitment of staff is very expensive, and as a consequence staff retention is an issue for organisations. The two examples given above are the most common ways in which companies are looking to give themselves an advantage over competitors.

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