Retention Fixes on a Shoestring Budget

I love small and medium sized HR shops for a number of reasons, but none more than for the simple fact, smaller sized HR shops have to be creative.  My grandma grew up during the Great Depression and got real use to have nothing, so like many people during that time in history, they worked their butts off and made do with what they had, and came up with some really creative ways to get things done.   In retirement she loved eating out at restaurants, probably because she was forced to cook all those years because she couldn’t afford to go out, but in retirement she didn’t really have the money to do this as much as she wants.  To solve this problem (Great Depression people are real problem solvers!) she tinkered at home, cooking the dishes she liked the most from her favorite restaurants, until you couldn’t really tell the difference between hers and the restaurant.  I remember showing up at her place late one night with my younger brother and he was hungry, and grandma couldn’t wait to feed “boys” (she lived for that), and she asked him what he was hungry for (he was 12 at the time) – he told her “nachos”.  Now I was pretty sure she had no idea what nachos were, but she went to work and about 20 minutes later she came out with a plate of nachos stacked so high with melted cheese and ground beef and salsa and sour cream, etc. you would have thought she drove down to your favorite sports bar and brought it back!  15 years later – my little brother still talks about those nachos.

Creativity and small HR shops, remind me of grandma. 

Having worked in big HR shops the one thing that frustrated me most was sitting around in large meetings, trying to figure out how to “fix” retention – and listening to all the ways and how much money it was going to cost.  In the end I always came back to, if we just take all this money we are going to spend on the “fix” and just go out and hand to the employees, we probably won’t have a retention problem – but large HR shop folks don’t like to hear that!  So, for you small HR shop folks out there, with little or no money to spend on increasing your retention – I came up with a few ideas you might want to try before you go spend all that money on that recognition software and anniversary awards.

No Money Retention Fixes:

  1. Fire the manager with the lowest retention.  (You have the data, you know who is turning people over – your organization needs to send a message that managers, not HR, not the CEO are responsible for retaining talent.  This has to be the first step – your leaders have to have a clear understanding it is their job to retain, their employees – and they’ll be held accountable for it.)
  2. Measure it by Department, and post it publicly for all to see. (No, don’t just share it in meetings – put it up in the lobby, down the halls, everywhere.  Then just wait – it will almost change overnight – no one likes to be at the bottom of any list, and have everyone know it.)
  3. Fire your worst performers – then use that money to compensate your best employees more. (It’s a wash – your worst employees aren’t helping your productivity anyway, and your best will appreciate the increase, appreciate you noticing the bad people were taking away from the team, and they’ll give you more discretionary effort.  The result – same cost (actually less if you factor in benefits, taxes, etc.) more productivity, a little less headcount.
  4. Have your senior leadership talk about retention publicly, constantly. (That which gets measured will get changed, that which gets measured and has the eye of senior leadership will get changed much quicker!)
  5. Institute a “Save Strategy” for employees who want to leave. (Save Strategy? If an employee puts in their notice, have them go meet with your CEO and explain to her why they are leaving – you’ll be amazed at the results and how many people will change their minds. Some people just want to know you care – and sitting down for some one-on-one with the CEO, shows that a whole bunch.)

One thought on “Retention Fixes on a Shoestring Budget

  1. Retention directly related to the manager?…..Absolutely! 🙂 Doesn’t matter type of job or company, all attitude and environment related. No amount of money can fix or change the reality.

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