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Happy Employees

Budgets are tight, sales are sporadic, staffing levels are operating at full or over capacity and raises and bonuses are difficult to justify. Losing a key contributor can be devastating to a company (especially smaller firms) when employees are already maxed out and overworked. The perception is that there are many talented and unemployed people out there, that it shouldn’t be too difficult to replace someone. It is true that there are many people out there, but are they the right people? Do you have the time to search through all of those candidates to uncover the right mix of technical, interpersonal and corporate cultural fit? How about the time and costs associated with recruiting, hiring and training someone? What if they don’t work out and you’ve lost revenue due to lack of productivity?

It’s interesting how every several years the employment market shifts from an employer market to an employee driven market. Right now, obviously, we are operating in an employer driven market as good jobs are still difficult to come by and there is intense competition for every job available. Employees are very reluctant to make job changes currently as the “grass may not be greener on the other side of the fence” and they at least know what’s happening within their own company. Employees are also more tied to their geographic locations as it is very difficult and expensive for them to relocate, taking into account family concerns and perhaps upside down with their mortgage. Also, hiring companies are increasingly limiting and more reluctant to provide relocation assistance due to cost cutting measures.

With that being said, it may appear that your employees are happy, but in reality, they may be “forced” to remain at your company due to limited options and are making the best of a sub-par situation.

So the question remains, what happens when the employment market stabilizes and there are more employment options? Would your employees still remain with your company? Maybe or possibly not!

As a business owner and a person who provides career planning and supports large and small companies nationally with their recruiting efforts, I’ve learned some valuable lessons from those I actually support.

Keeping “high impact” performers happy involves:

  • A combination of “perks” (extra vacation days, gift cards or a small monetary bonus): appreciation and recognition are highly effective.
  • Provide them with an opportunity to influence or impact corporate decisions.
  • Communicating the direction and current state of the company.
  • Succession planning provides employees with a series of corporate and individual objectives designed to motivate them to reach for higher positional and financial growth futuristically.
  • Encourage cost cutting ideas and suggestions (materials, utilities, vendor renegotiations, etc.) and pay a percentage bonus based on measures they’ve implemented and saved.
  • If you can pay merit bonuses, don’t pay everyone on the team the same percentages. Reward the high performers with higher percentages. The rest of the team will get the message and hopefully produce at a higher level when its bonus time again.

What I’m saying is be proactive now with the handling of your productive and committed employees to assure their loyalty remains intact as the employment market yield more opportunities later. Making them feel appreciated and challenged now will save you a lot of time and money later (from a replacement perspective) as your business unit produces more revenue, therefore requiring key people to support it.

Ron Daratany is a national career expert and CEO/Founder of DMR Global, Inc., a national executive recruiting, outplacement and career planning firm.

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