Benefits and Compensation

Retaining Your Best Employees—Five Key Tips

The original talk was called “30 Ideas in 30 Minutes,” but we’ve culled the best fifteen ideas for readers. The panelists were:

  • Andrew Botwin, head of Human Resources for accounting firm Rothstein Kass
  • Kathy Brooks, VP of Employee Experience, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
  • Michael Burchell, Vice President, Global Business Development, The Great Place to Work Institute
  • Rob McElory, General Manager, Daphne Utilities
  • Liz Wilson McKee, Internal Communications Manager at law firm Baker, Donelson PC

How to Retain Your People

[go here for the first 10 tips]

Burchell: Some good examples of retention-boosting programs that we have seen: At Google, 20% of time is spent on what the employee wants to work on; At Lands End, hourly workers can try out their jobs for 6 weeks; At one investment firm, all desks are on wheels, and employees can wheel themselves from project team to project team.

Brooks: Thirty employees are nominated each year for “origin trips.” The employees visit our coffee growing areas, like Nicaragua, Guatemala, or Mexico, where they pick coffee and meet the people. Many report that the visit “changed their lives” forever.

McElory: We want people to think about a career not a job. We want them to feel that their value to the organization is increasing each year. We let people “test-drive” a job. If they don’t like it, no problem, we try another one until they “find a home.”


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McKee: At our company, HR stops in a crisis. During hurricanes, for example, HR is working on finding contractors to fix damage, or finding alternative living quarters. Also, from day one, each employee has a dedicated mentor.

Brooks: We offer pre-supervisory training to let prospective supervisors experience what the job will be like. About ½ of the participants drop back to their non-supervisory jobs.

Attracting, engaging, and retaining—critical HR tasks, but really, just a few of what, a dozen challenges that will cross your desk today?  We’re talking about intermittent leave challenges; accommodation headaches; investigation woes; training, interviewing, and attendance; to name just a few. In HR, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. And in a small department, it’s just that much tougher.

BLR’s Managing an HR Department of One is unique in addressing the special pressures small HR departments face. Here are some of its features:

  • Explanation of how HR supports organizational goals. This section explains how to probe for what your top management really wants and how to build credibility in your ability to deliver it.
  • Overview of compliance responsibilities, through a really useful,         2-page chart of 23 separate laws that HR needs to comply with. These range from the well-known Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and new healthcare reform legislation, to lesser-known, but equally critical, rules such as Executive Order 11246. Also included are examples of federal and state posting requirements. (Proper postings are among the first things a visiting inspector looks for—especially now that the minimum wage has been repeatedly changing.)


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  • Training guidelines. No matter the size of your company, expect to conduct training. Some of it is required by law; some of it just makes good business sense. Managing an HR Department of One walks you through how to train efficiently and effectively with a minimum of time and money.
  • Prewritten forms, policies, and checklists. These are enormous work savers! Managing an HR Department of One has 46 such forms, from job apps and background check sheets to performance appraisals and leave requests, in both paper and on CD. The CD lets you easily customize any form with your company’s name and specifics.

If you’d like a more complete look at what Managing an HR Department of One covers, click the Table of Contents link below. Or, better yet, take a look at the entire program. We’ll send it to you for 30 days’ evaluation in your own office with no obligation to buy. Click here, and we’ll be happy to make the arrangements.

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