by Strategic HR Partners

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by Strategic HR Partners

Planning Strategically

Retaining employees is a constant battle for business owners and managers. The need to retain skilled and educated individuals is on the rise and will only continue, as demand and competition for qualified workers are heating up in Northern Nevada. As more companies choose to relocate to the area, the need to fill the growing number of positions from the limited workforce will require that attention be focused on retaining employees.

Strategic planning to keep employees engaged in your company and prepare for future growth is paramount to success. Several areas need to be considered to position your company’s offerings to retain and attract individuals. Those include compensation and benefits, growth opportunities, workplace environment, and work/life balance. Additionally, due to demographic changes in the workforce, shifts away from traditional paradigms regarding each of these areas may be the key to place you on the cutting edge and make your company appear more lucrative to current and potential employees.

Compensation should be the first area to consider, de-spite shifts away from purely extrinsic rewards. Income remains primarily important to employees, as we all need to be financially secure. This is increasingly evident as the debate over minimum wage laws and increases in employee wages rage on across the country. In order to remain competitive in the market, it is essential that employers take a close look at the average rates of pay or each position within their company. This average can then be compared to others within the market or industry through a compensation survey or similar form of comparison. Adjusting your company’s compensation to at least match the benchmark set by local averages can drastically diminish potential movement of employees to competitors. Oftentimes, one job might appear to be just as similar as the next, despite the com-pensation and benefits that are offered.

In the event that the compensation offered by your company isn’t the highest in the industry, you can still remain attractive to potential employees by offering a complete benefits package. Benefits, especially medical insurance, have increased in appeal due partially to the mandatory requirements that workers are now faced with and the potential cost defrayment of remain-ing covered. Recent studies suggest that over 75% of employees consider company provided health insurance important when looking for a job. This is not to say that top of the line, platinum level coverage is required, and alternatives should be assessed.

Due particularly to the economic downturn, many members of the workforce learned the hard way that they need to remain competitive and up to date with their skills and experience. Opportunities for employee growth are increasingly important, which is where the intrinsic rewards, or things that matter internally to employees come into play.

No longer are employees content to stay in the same position and add up years of service to one company. Personal improvement and growth opportunities are paramount to engage employees and keep them focused on the goal ahead. This can take the form of a new position or expansion of responsibilities and the resulting skills obtained from either. The first question often asked when discussing growth and development is whether an employee will move on after being trained and obtain-ing new skills. Although this is always a possibility, recall that we’re addressing employee retention through each area. Employers can reap the rewards of their employees’ newfound education and abilities even for a short period by providing growth. The confidence or infusion of support to grow from employers could actually increase employee loyalty to the company.

Flexibility is key when considering the workplace environment of your company. Traditional and formal environments are quickly becoming things of the past, including stringent dress codes, rigid office policies, and authoritarian leadership structures. With the transition of the baby boomer and older generations out of the workforce, ideas about one’s working environment are shifting dramatically. By increasing employee comfort and adding flexible options, employees should want to be at work and contribute more. Employees no longer want to report to the frigid, overbearing warden who demands excellence and forgets to praise; along the same lines, the boss that yells should assume that the employees will soon be running. People want to feel comfortable and appreciated.

Recently it was noted that 82 of Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for offer telecommuting. Although impossible with some positions that require on-site interaction and responsibilities, implementing telecommuting could increase work productivity and allow flexi-bility for employees that have extenuating circumstances or prefer greater work/life balance. Planning for these adjustments and assessing how to address possible situations can be instrumental to successful implementation.

Work/life balance is often a critical deciding factor, especially with millennials and individuals of younger generations entering the workforce in droves. Despite the need to work for a living, members of the younger generations, who are often considered entitled, seem to want more out of life than the traditional nine to five. This is not to say that workers who are parents, or disabled, or who like to get away on a regular basis don’t see the benefit in restricted work intrusion on their activities outside of the office walls. On average, employees who are offered flexible hours are more productive, work longer hours, are less stressed, and have higher job satisfaction.

Planning strategically to retain employees can result in positive outcomes when each of these areas is considered and addressed in providing for employees. Competitive compensation and benefits can ground employees and diminish turnover. Opportunities for growth can provide intrinsic value to employees so that they want to advance within your company or seek ways to benefit it through new skills. Increased flexibility and a less rigid workplace environment can create greater appeal for employees, while work/life balance consideration can increase pro-duction when employees are engaged at work.

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