How to Keep Talented Employees – In the Roaring Fork Valley and Beyond
A key to a successful business is retaining talented and experienced employees. Few things in business are as costly and disruptive as loosing key employees in your organization. This rings true especially for the Roaring Fork Valley, where the talent pool is limited from purely a numbers standpoint. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average turnover rate is close to 9 percent per year, but it’s more than double that in a seasonal resort community like Aspen, Basalt, and the lower valley. So what can a business do to retain their employees and keep things running smoothly?
Not everyone can be the person in charge or a supervisor since there are a finite number of “upper-level” positions in the Valley. To keep your talented and experienced employees, they need to be engaged and excited about their work. They need to be influencing decisions, solving problems and making a bigger impact. And while this traditionally comes with formal promotions, advancement can also be accomplished with evolving job descriptions and responsibilities. Checking in with employees to get their ideas related to business practices and policies will help them feel valued and will allow their voices to be heard – thus giving them a stake in the success of the business.
The best leaders don’t take credit – they give it. A simple pat on the back or “job well done” goes a long way in terms of motivation and productivity for employees – not to mention the overall moral of an organization. Simple gestures such as brining in snacks, hosting a luncheon, or awarding certificates when goals are reached can incentivize employees to keep working hard. When employees get positive feedback they feel more emotionally connected to the leaders and the company; thus, they are less likely to jump ship.
The desire to make more money is a very common cause for employees to leave their jobs. Whether they can actually secure a new position with a higher compensation package is yet to be proven – but the yearning is ever present in the valley because of the incredibly high cost of living. A study done by WorldatWork, the Hay Group, and Loyola University found that 83% of organizations will pay key employees above the going market rate to keep them, and 73% say this is an effective retention strategy. Obviously this has to work with the bottom line, but if it costs approximately 50-200% of an employee’s annual salary… Well, the extra compensation could well be worth it in the long run.
Erika Anderson, a Forbes Magazine contributor and national known leadership coach, believes lack of clarity is one of the reasons people leave organizations, period. Employees need to know the reason for what they’re doing and how they contribute to the vision of your company. If you are clear about what you want to accomplish as an organization and enlist the support of your staff to help bring the vision to life – people will not only stay, but thrive.
The U.S. and many international marketplaces have been dealing with multiple generations in the workforce since the beginning of capitalism. This already challenging dynamic is becoming more complex as the average retirement age skyrockets. Thanks to the financial crash in 2008, many Baby Boomers are forced to work, at least part time, well in to their seventies. According to the Labor Force Demographic Data and the Bureau of Labor, by 2014, nearly one-third of the total U.S. workforce (32%) will be age 50 or older. This will be a significant increase from 27 percent in 2005. With Generation Y or Millennials beginning careers, it means the number of working generations has reached an all time high.
So what is the big deal with 22 year-olds working with 67 year-olds? The issue is summed up by the age-old term – the generation gap. This phrase is used to describe how older and younger generations have different interests and communication styles in one moment (i.e. parents and their children). Traditionally the “gap” resolves itself as the child grows up and becomes very similar to their parents. This paradigm has shifted dramatically in the post-Baby Boomer era. Generational replication is not happening for young adults have different values, ideas, perspectives, work and communications styles than their ancestors – causing a true shift in how generations relate to one another.
At work, generational differences can affect nearly everything, including recruiting and hiring, building teams, dealing with change, motivating, and managing. With such a variety of people with a wide range of ideals, values, and goals – there are bound to be miscommunications and misunderstandings. This causes tension and adversely affects moral, employee interaction and productivity.
Understanding who people are and where they come from is paramount to navigating the multi-generational workplace. Obviously you must be careful not to stereotype individuals based on when they were born, but studies show there are commonalities in viewpoints, values and behavior in generations. The nomenclature may vary but below is a generational grouping snapshot:
- Veterans, World War II, Traditionalists – born 1922-1945, value conformity, discipline, one-on-one communication, the radio shaped their worldview, they “make do or do without” and were able to sacrifice
- Baby Boomers – born 1946-1964, the largest generation ever, competitive and job focused, all about paying your dues, optimistic, want to change the world, influenced by the advent of television
- Generation X – born 1965-1980, informal, skeptical and independent (latchkey kids), take care of themselves and results-driven, always asks “why”, influenced by the advent of the computer
- Generation Y or Millennials – born 1981-2000 – a social generation on many levels, confident, flexible, love technology, want feedback, serve the community and achieve NOW, communicate via email and connect 24/7, the internet rules all
Suggestions for the Workplace
Being aware of inter-generational troubles is one thing, but truly addressing and managing them is another. The biggest and first step is to truly accept that all people, especially individuals from different generations, are different than you. It sounds so elementary but we get caught up in our own egocentricity and forget that everyone has a valid and varied perspective on the world and therefore on the way they communicate in and out of the workplace. Below are a few tactics that are based on this foundational idea.
No blanket communication strategies
You simply must adjust the mode and language in which you communicate based on the generation and the individual. Boomers may prefer to communicate by phone or in person. Millennials grew up being in constant communication with peers and coworkers so are accustomed to emailing, texting or sending instant messages. Figure out what works best for the recipient, not your favorite method.
Offer different working options like telecommuting and working offsite. Focus on the results employees produce rather than on how they get it done. This will give employees some flexibility on how they want to work and put everybody, regardless of where they spent most of their time working, on the same scale to measure success. Telecommuting can also encourage Boomers nearing retirement to stay on staff longer since the option allows them to ‘gear down’ their workloads.
Dealing with changing work/life balance
It is easy to judge a Millennial for taking the afternoon off on a sunny day to take a bike ride or hit the ski hill for some turns, when your background as a Baby Boomer is all about dedication to a profession and “working to live”. Conversely Generation Xer’s might think Veterans “don’t have a life” and take work a bit too seriously. Once again we have to honor the work ethic and values of everyone. As long as the work gets done, does it matter?
Mentoring is somewhat a lost art in the modern working world. Supporting mentoring programs and structures in organizations increase cross generational interaction and has a host of positive benefits. Older workers have expertise and wisdom to share while younger employees have a fresh perspective and typically an incredible grasp on technology. Putting together brainstorming sessions from all age levels means more viewpoints and more creativity. Why not capitalize on the differences rather than be hindered by them.
Harvard Business Review
The Center for Association Leadership
AARP Leading in a Multigenerational Workforce
Fairleigh Dickenson University – Generation Research
This is an issue across the globe, but is particularly challenging in a transient area like Aspen, Colorado. The Roaring Fork Valley is a dream residence for many people, but the seasonal work fluctuations, the limited number of companies and thus opportunities, and the incredibly high cost of living are deterrents for long-term stays. So when you do find that perfect employee, how do you keep them happy, content and never wanting to leave your organization? We recommend investing in your staff so they feel valued and appreciated. This might be benefits or “perks” like a ski pass which is one of many great reasons to stay at Aspen Snowmass Ski Company. We strongly suggest encouraging professional development and continued education with complementary classes at Colorado Mountain College. They have an incredible program called Customized Business Services that ” improve employees’ performance by providing them high-quality, affordable training and development opportunities.” In addition they have credit and noncredit classes that are great for professional development. Your employee broadens their skill set and expertise while developing loyalty, and your organization gets to harness these new talents. It truly is a win-win and a great way to retain talent! Photo courtesy of CMC.
“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” Jim Collins’ quote from his book Good to Great has become famous because of its power and truth. Finding the perfect fit for all positions in your organization is challenging at best. You spend countless hours recruiting, interviewing and finally hiring – only to find after investing in training, the employee really isn’t cut out for the job. The good news is there are simple tools that can increase your chances of making a good hire. One we highly recommend is the ProScan – a web based profile to uncover a candidate’s individual, personal strengths. Local business Growth Coach Gary Hartman administers the 7 minute survey and spends 30 minutes with you explaining the results. He states, “My clients have used the ProScan as a way to confirm a hiring decision, or in helping to choose between 2 candidates. It can also be an extremely powerful way to supercharge your Team, helping improve communications or matching the right people to the right jobs.” The cost of the test and the consulting is only $75 per person.
Small businesses typically don’t have a dedicated human resources employee, much less an entire department. This means a staff member that is not a HR specialist is responsible for compensation and benefits that may include payroll, employee evaluations, job analysis; HR management which includes the policies, procedures, labor relations, attendance, and conflict resolution; staffing and recruitment; and orientation and training of employees. This situation is not rare, but it is an accident waiting to happen. Why not leave HR to the experts. Just because you don’t have the budget for a full-time position doesn’t mean you can’t have the very best. Companies like SCI – HR Shared Services that provide pay rolling, pay as you go workers compensation, and other HR services are perfect solutions.
Many companies are using firewalls, company policies and scare tactics to keep employees away from using social media in the workplace. They think of it as a distraction and a time-suck for non-work related activity during company business hours. The reality is Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many other internet based tools are contemporary communication channels that, when used right, can be incredibly effective. Instead of banning the inevitable – why not harness the power to do some quality HR work?? Below are just a couple suggestions for effective application. And if you need any help executing them, local search and social marketers a2 Interactive Media is the go-to firm.
- Internal Communication – blogs, videos and podcasts are great ways to disseminate information about trainings, benefit updates, events, etc.
- Employee Interaction – Accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP recently created a Facebook page called Ernst & Young Connects, where more than 5,400 employees can share experiences and opinions about things such as the intern program, the chairman’s values or updates from the managing partner.
- Recruitment – utilize LinkedIn and other social networks to attract incredible talent world-wide, reduce costs and enhance the recruitment experience for candidates
- Brand Building – most organizations think of their online presence as a branding tool for their “customers” only, but the truth is it also is the face of your company for potential hires. It is a great way for job seekers to get a good feel for who you are as a company.
This is worth mentioning again for it plagues the valley. There are four plus months out of the year when staffs significantly cut back, business slows dramatically and some organizations even shut their doors. Some businesses allow personnel to claim unemployment during these times. The majority are simply on their own to find other ways to make ends meet. There is no perfect solution to this bi-annual phenomenon but temporary staffing sure can help you beef up your crew in times of need without the long-term commitment of full-time employees. Hot Jobs temp and temp to hire personnel services are ideal for resort communities like Aspen, Colorado.