Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Your Employees Are Ready to Leave: Rethinking Your Company's Incentives and Perks in 2010
Now let's take a step back. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in December 2007 three things happened: 1) Hiring peaked 2) Employment peaked and 3) Separations (turnover) began to decrease. Basically this was the start of the recession.
Enter 2010--by February separations equaled employment at 4.0 million. The lowest both those numbers have been in a decade. In fact, total number of employees quitting decreased by 42% since 2008.
This is a pretty staggering number, considering how the level of quitting has acted over the last 10 years. In 2002-2003 for instance, it dipped to about half of the number it is at now--only to rise the following 2 years 23%.
These numbers simply justify what's going on. People are going into "turtle-mode" and hiding in their shells (or cubes for that matter). But this poses a very interesting question for when jobs do become available (as it has started to show signs of life): Will your company be crippled by cost of turnover and loss of institutional knowledge when a large group (possibly twice as many as you think) jump ship? If you're working on keeping your employees happy--now more than ever--your answer is "most likely not." If you're worried about "bigger things" and pushed employee engagement to the back-burner then you might need to rethink your priorities.
Human resources professionals are the best people to lead the effort at reworking employee incentives. They have to be creative and flexible and customized to meet the needs of your team. That's the tough part.
The starting point is to create a task force made up of a few employees (dependent on company size of course this might vary) from different departments that get down in the trenches and talk to your team members to find out what they want. This might come in the form of surveying, interviewing, brainstorm discussion or focus groups.
The task force's responsibility is to find out what people want and then work with the C-suite to determine how the company can best meet those needs in a cost-efficient manner. Hiring a consultant to lead this effort is a great way to keep the project on track--and to show your employees that they're appreciated and that you're investing in ways to keep them happy and engaged. Get marketing involved to develop an internal/external campaign that promotes and informs EVERYONE (especially your stakeholders) about what you're doing and why you're doing it.
The bottom line is that you need to rethink your company incentives programs and perks now rather than later. You don't need statistics or a HR degree to see that there are a lot of people waiting to leave their firms--simply talk to a few of your friends. The scary thing is that with the way the economy has acted over the last couple years, that number of people waiting to jump ship is probably a lot higher than you think--and could financially and institutionally cripple your firm if it happens.