Benefits and Compensation

Recognition and Retention—5 T’s to Success

As we leave the recession behind, the hot button for HR is going to be retention, says consultant Ronald Katz. HR will have to focus on holding on to your most valuable assets and then on getting the highest effort out of them.

Voluntarily Give Their Discretionary Effort

Some employees do just enough not to get fired; that’s not going to do it for you, says Katz. You want employees to “voluntarily give their discretionary effort.” Katz, who is with Penguin Human Resource Consulting, LLC, offered his tips in a recent BLR-sponsored webinar.

The Unlimited Rewards Budget

Who has an unlimited rewards budget? No one, says Katz. But there are five things to do that are low cost and generate huge returns.

We Don’t Have the Money

Money is a great incentive, but it’s a terrible satisfier, says Katz. Even organizations that can start by rewarding with money find that:

  • They are not satisfying all the needs of the employee.
  • Eventually, they can’t keep ratcheting up the reward, and when they stop, the employee starts thinking, “They’re taking me for granted, this is it, the tide has turned, I need to start looking.”

So, what can you do?

The Five T’s

  • Time
  • Task
  • Team
  • Training
  • Talking

For the most part, they don’t cost a cent, says Katz. (Training may have some cost.)

Make sure managers know how to do these things and that they recognize the value of doing these things. (Otherwise, they won’t do them, Katz says.)

Time

Treat your employees like adults, says Katz.

  • Don’t be Mr. Micromanager.
  • Create a culture of results, not occupancy.
  • Give the people some control over their time.
  • Don’t watch like a hawk.

For example, If someone needs to come in a few minutes late, don’t be standing there tapping your watch. If someone needs to leave early, whatever the reason, let the person go. Don’t question them, don’t grill them. (If you do, they’ll take the whole day the next time.)

Besides, says Katz, if you let your employees leave early when they need to, they will make up the time and more on their own. They will want to show that they can be trusted and that they are taking care of their responsibilities.

One client called in Katz to help with poor morale. Katz went to the cafeteria and saw long lines at the serving area, but no one eating in the cafeteria. It turned out that everyone went right back to his or her desk—they were afraid to be seen away from the desk.

Later, he noticed that the VP never left before 5:30, and at the end of the day, rather than go directly to the elevator, he’d walk the floor to see who was still there. The instant he drove away, everyone split.

That’s not how to manage, says Katz.


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Tasks

One of the best ways to reward people is with interesting tasks, Katz says. Reward your best people with the most interesting work. They want a challenge, they want to learn something new.

However, be careful not to burn out your best people. You’ve probably heard it said that if you want something done, give it to a busy person. That works until they burn out, Katz says. That’s the philosophy of “Let’s burn out our best people so don’t overburden the worst people.”

The effect is that underperforming people are not given enough work to do—because you don’t trust them to do a good job—and you’re burning out the best people.

Take the most noxious, boring work and give it to lesser performers. If they are not up to these tasks, you have to consider their performance and whether they should still be employed at your company.


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Team

Your employees care more about their coworkers than your company, says Katz. If you talk to people who have left, they don’t say they miss the staff meeting—they miss the coworkers.

Let your best people work with equally good people. Katz has seen some organizations that “salt” the teams by putting each good person with a group of poorer people. That sounds good, but it doesn’t work. Either the good person gets pulled down because the others don’t want to work that hard, or the good person does most of the work and burns out.

People want to work with the best. Put your best people on one project team and see what they produce—you’ll be stunned, says Katz. No one wants to let the others down and no one wants to lose their “best of the best” status.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, the other two T’s, Training and Talking, plus an introduction to the all-things-HR-in-one-place website, HR.BLR.com®.