What is the biggest problem
for American businesses today? It's the labor shortage---finding and keeping
high quality people---according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.
"Companies don't seem to be doing much about this problem. While some are boosting
wages and benefits, most simply seem baffled by the phenomenon."
What can organizations do
to stem the tide of workers, who are here today, and gone tomorrow? Perhaps,
it's to discover:
- What attracts employees
to a company;
- What causes them to leave;
- What you, as a manager
or business owner, can do about it.
Here are three ways to obtain
this vital information:
1. Voice of the Employee
One of the more effective
ways for companies to get timely information is from employee focus groups.
Sometimes these groups coalesce around a particular issue. Is a new corporate
policy working? Why has morale nose-dived? Do we need to increase or change
Other times, organizations
want to get a better understanding of the impact of a major change on employees---perhaps
after a merger or reorganization. The most dangerous position for a company
is not knowing how employees feel about an issue. They'll demonstrate with their
feet, and then it' s too late. Here are five guidelines to obtain valid information
from "Voice of the Employee" focus groups.
- Decide what information
you are seeking and from whom---employees across business units, or certain
departments, or specific demographic groups.
- Use a focus group leader
or moderator who is completely impartial because that person has to be able
to convey findings to management, even if it's bad news.
- Report only trends, concerns
and questions. Information should be reported anonymously: no names, titles,
or groups. Confidentiality is absolutely essential.
- Report back to employees
quickly that you have heard their concerns. Tell them which ones you can act
on, which ones you can't---and why.
- Finally communicate on
an ongoing basis: "Here's where we are, where we're going, and how we're going
to get there. "
2. Third-Party Exit Interviews
Exit interviews are structured
conversations with employees who are voluntarily leaving a company. One of the
reasons companies use these interviews is to examine the factors that cause
But, if human resources
conducts these face-to-face talks or written questionnaires, it's highly unlikely
that a departing employee will air specific problems. Even if they are leaving
for upbeat reasons---a better position, a spouse's job relocation, a planned
return to school---workers are hesitant to raise significant issues.
are "the canary in the coal mine," says Maury Hanigan, an expert in retention
and productivity issues. "Figure out why they are dying and realize that these
factors have an impact on the rest of the organization." The data should be
used to make changes in policies, procedures, programs, and even management.
3. Employee Attitude
today recognize that employees are first people-who have personal situations
and perspective that affect their work attitudes and behaviors. By acknowledging
these "people" issues, organizations enhance employee commitment and create
workers who are on the job not only in body, but in mind and spirit as well.
Employee attitude surveys
help organizations to:
- Recognize and evaluate
the similarities and differences among workers
- Study the factors that
can influence employee retention
- Measure the impact of
various approaches created to increase employee commitment.
Finding and keeping good
people is a business problem that isn't going to go away, concludes The Wall
Street Journal article. So how is your organization discovering what attracts
good people, what motivates them to stay and what makes them leave?
Employee focus groups, third-party
exit interviews and attitude surveys are effective tools to help companies retain
high performing, committed workers now and into the future.