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    Entries in retention (4)


    One way legacy companies can change the recruiting and retention equation

    One challenge most older, 'legacy' companies can face when recruiting and attempting to retain their most desired people and keep them from flocking to the newer, more exciting, and often more lucrative startups in their industries is their very own legacies and brands.

    One could argue that 25 year old hotshot developers are not that interested in joining say an IBM, when they could jump on a new AI or blockchain startup. Or in finance, the allure of say a JP Morgan Chase might not hold all that much resonance when that same 25 year old has been immersed in crypto currency exchange technology for the last few years. Or in retailing, what would draw someone who has many options to a company like Walmart or Target, when modern, fast-moving, and tech-driven startups like Stitchfix seem to be much more exciting?

    Well, one 'legacy' company is trying a really clever strategy for to address this challenge - the legendary auto manufacturer GM is looking to improve its success in recruiting and retaining talent for its new self-driving unit named Cruise, by offering new employees equity directly in the Cruise unit, and not in legacy GM. From a recent piece in TechCrunch describing the plan:

    In what will be seen as a big recruiting and retention win for Cruise, employees will be offered equity in GM’s self-driving technology subsidiary rather than shares of GM. The securities offering was disclosed in a recent SEC filing for GM Cruise Holdings LLC.

    The equity structure gives all Cruise employees the chance to own actual shares of Cruise, not in GM. It’s a critical development for a company, even one flush with new capital like Cruise, that is working to deploy autonomous vehicles on a commercial scale.

    “The goal was primarily to create a new equity structure so that we could recruit and retain the best talent by giving them direct participation in potential upside in Cruise through owning actual shares in Cruise, which we didn’t have before,” Cruise CEO and co-founder Vogt told TechCrunch.

    So how does a company like GM better compete for in-demand talent, that may be drawn to their smaller, upstart competitors? By making it seem for the most part that this talent doesn't really work for GM, they work for a self-driving car startup called Cruise that just so happens to be subsidiary of GM. And this allows GM not only to get a lift from not being wed to 100+ years of GM history from a branding perspective, it allows loosens up the compensation purse strings for these Cruise employees, as large, legacy companies like GM have much more rigid and formal methods of allocating compensation - ones that their startup competition usually are not encumbered by.

    And if things work out for Cruise, the prospect for employees of really cashing in with a spinoff and an IPO add the carrot of potential future millions that 'legacy' GM would never be able to match. It's a clever way to combine the strengths of GM's legacy and history with some new ideas that shore up some of the weaknesses in that legacy.

    And yes, I am a GM owner. But I am still driving my own car. For now anyway.

    Have a great day!


    How to quickly solve your engagement, retention, and employer brand problems

    If you (and the people in your organization) are representatives of what has been happening more generally in work and workplaces over the last decade or so then you are likely working more hours, remain as disengaged as ever, and now, more acutely, are struggling to find and retain the needed talented people for many of your key roles.

    These challenges of work/life balance, engagement, and retention collectively have had about 4,958,909 articles and 'advice' pieces written about them in the last few years, (I looked it up), and yet most organizations and people still struggle with one or all of these problems. But what if there were one simple change to the design of work and workplaces that actually could improve the situation across all three of these measures? What if there were the equivalent of an HR/Talent/Org Design magic wand that you could wave and you'd pretty quickly see employees happier with their work/life balance, become more enthusiastic and engaged with their work, and be much less likely to leave your organization to search for greener pastures?

    When you hear this idea (especially if you are from the USA), your first reaction is almost certainly going to be 'There's no way that will ever work here', but I ask you just suspend your cynicism for three minutes and at least allow your imagination to play with the concept - it's Monday morning and you are having a hard time getting going anyway.

    So here it is, the easy solution to burnout, engagement, and retention:

    Change your standard workday to 6 hours.

    That's it. Keep everything else (salary, benefits, performance standards, org structure, etc.) the same. Just cut the workday from the 8 hours down to 6, and remind everyone that you still expect and require the same productivity and outcomes as you did on the 8 hour day, but you now only 'require' them to work for 6 hours.

    This is an idea that has been in the news again lately, based on a few experiments both in the public and private sectors in Sweden, and are reviewed in this recent piece in the Guardian. Organizations that have either tested or totally adopted the reduced hours have consistently reported improvements across the three key objectives I have been mentioning - work/life, engagement, and retention.

    From the Guardian piece, the experiences of a tech startup, (a type of company much more commonly associated with 12 or more hour days):

    For Maria Bråth, boss of internet startup Brath, the six-hour working day the company introduced when it was formed three years ago gives it a competitive advantage because it attracts better staff and keeps them. “They are the most valuable thing we have,” she says – an offer of more pay elsewhere would not make up for the shorter hours they have at Brath.

    The company, which has 22 staff in offices in Stockholm and Örnsköldsvik, produces as much, if not more, than its competitors do in eight-hour days, she says. “It has a lot to do with the fact that we are very creative – we couldn’t keep it up for eight hours.”

    And what about a more 'normal' job, say as an auto mechanic? Well their is evidence that shorter workdays can be successful there as well:

    Martin Geborg, 27, a mechanic, started at Toyota eight years ago and has stayed there because of the six-hour day. “My friends are envious,” he says. He enjoys the fact that there is no traffic on the roads when he is heading to and from work. Sandra Andersson, 25, has been with the company since 2008. “It is wonderful to finish at 12,” she says. “Before I started a family I could go to the beach after work – now I can spend the afternoon with my baby.”

    I know what you are thinking - there is no way a 25% reduction in work hours without a reduction in comp and ben costs will EVER work for you. 

    The bosses will never go for it, and for US companies, it just sounds too 'European' and vaguely socialist an idea to ever merit serious consideration. But if you can get past your instinctive reaction as an HR pro and just consider the notion as an individual employee you might think differently.

    How much time, really, do you spend each day on 'non-work' - catching up on your idiot friends posts on Facebook, calling to schedule a Dr. appointment, or doing the lunchtime 'bank/dry cleaner/pharmacy' trifecta? 

    How many of your kids school activites to you either miss or have to guiltily sneak out of work to try and attend?

    How many times to you sit in traffic from 5:45PM - 7:00PM only to reach home completely frazzled and wiped out?

    And after all of that, how much work, actual important and quality work did you get done that day?

    Definitely some, you are a solid pro, but definitely not 8 hours worth, that is for sure. Work expands to fill the available space and time provided, often crowding out the other, 'non-work' parts of our lives. And, if your job is similar to many of the other folks I know, it never really is 'done' anyway - no matter how much time you spend in the office.

    These small experiments with shorter working days all seem to turn out the same - employees are more focused, have more energy, provide better service, are happier, and are much less likely to leave what they perceive to be a great working situation.

    What's not to like about that?

    Nah, it would never work here.

    Have a great week!


    Trends in Onboarding and Retention in 2013

    (Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Allied Van Lines®, a leader in the moving and storage industry with more than 75 years of experience. For a second year, they are championing a research project, Allied HRIQ, aimed to provide business professionals with data on current workforce trends. We also have an exciting LinkedIn group~ Allied HR IQ~ where HR professionals can network and share ideas about happenings in the HR space.  I encourage you to join today!  I have partnered with Allied Van Lines® in the past and am excited about this year’s survey results.)

    Trying to find and then take the time to make sense of and look for valuable and relevant takeaways from the multitude of research and surveys about the workplace, talent management, and management trends can be quite challenging for most of us with busy, full schedules. And the folks at Allied get this, which is why they have asked HR bloggers like myself, Trish McFarlane, and Sharlyn Lauby to jump in and not only take a look at the recently completed data from the Allied HR IQ survey, but also to highlight what we felt like were some of the most interesting and important findings.

    As Sharlyn shared earlier this summer, the Allied HR IQ survey put out some great information on telecommuting.  Give her article a read because, as we all know, this issue is still on the minds of many professionals. And later in the year, Trish examined the recruiting and relocation survey focus areas in her piece here.

    I’ve been asked to look at the onboarding and retention components of the survey results.  I have to tell you, the full survey results are well worth your time to read, but in case you’re pressed for time, here are my key takeaways on these important topics:


    Some key findings from the data about new employee onboarding:

    While onboarding is usually ‘owned’ by HR, (83% either led by corporate HR and/or Unit HR), there is usually not a specific budget allocated for the process, with 87% of respondents indicating that onboarding costs were simply baked in to overall HR spend.

    In onboarding, success is not totally tied to the size of an organization’s budget - companies that evaluated their onboarding process as ‘Highly Successful’ spent, on average, over 50% less than companies rating themselves only ‘Somewhat Successful.’  However both groups spent significantly more on onboarding than the ‘Not Successful’ group.

    Highly successful onboarding programs distinguished themselves in several ways - by clearly communicating employee expectations, incorporating formal and informal coaching and mentoring programs, and encompassing senior and line managerial participation in the onboarding process.

    Finally, and perhaps the most interesting data point related to onboarding,  respondents indicated it takes about 8 months for new hires to be fully productive in the organization, a time horizon that did not vary much no matter how small or large the organization.

    What can you take away from these findings?

    Clearly, the best onboarding programs are ones that maintain a high degree of personalization, i.e., where the individual employee needs and situation are being considered and valued. Elements like specific goals and expectations, a high degree of managerial and leadership involvement, and the realization that onboarding should start sooner (even before the first day on the job) and last longer are just some of the hallmarks of successful programs. As we will see in the data about employee retention, a successful employee onboarding experience will pay dividends far into the future, and will clearly provide a fantastic return on investment.

    Turning our attention to the Retention portion of the study... 


    Similarly, several interesting findings were revealed from the survey respondents’ assessment of their retention strategies and their success (or shortcomings).

    The Allied HRIQ survey participants indicated that only 76% of their new hires remained with the organization for one full year. Given the 8-month time to productivity finding from above, losing a full quarter of new hires before one year is kind of a distressing statistic.

    To build upon the first point, only 62% of new hires who were retained for a full year were viewed as ‘Meeting or surpassing expectations,’ meaning 38% were performing at a sub-optimal level.

    Why are so many new hires leaving before one year? Not surprisingly, the number one factor reported by the survey respondents was the employee’s ‘Relationship with their manager.’ This finding supports that often-repeated maxim that ‘People join companies, but they leave managers.’ Career advancement opportunities ranked next on the list of leaving reasons, reminding us that even new employees are concerned about their future career prospects with the organization.

    Lastly, many companies, even quite large ones, are not doing a good enough job of asking and assessing executives’ willingness to relocate, even while reporting that this willingness and ability to actually relocate is an important factor for their advancement opportunities.

    There are several interesting implications of the retention data from the Allied HRIQ survey, but if I could focus in on one element, it would have to be the level and attention of the employee’s direct manager and how that affects outcomes. As we saw in the onboarding data, a high level of managerial involvement led to better onboarding programs. And this type of attention and personalized development and management seems to also have a profound influence on retention. The data suggest that the most important factor in an employee’s first months with the organization is the relationship they have with their manager. So smart HR leaders will strive to ensure they work closely with these critically important managers to provide them the tools, resources, and capability they need to effectively guide new employees in their first months with the organization.

    Final thoughts

    Onboarding and retention will continue to be two necessary and important functions for the HR leader, and while most organizations feel like they are doing at least an adequate job in these areas, as the Allied HRIQ survey reveals, there is always room for improvement.

    I encourage you to check out the full Allied HRIQ survey results here, where you will find lots more information and insight that can help to make your onboarding and retention efforts even more effective.


    The One-Question Survey

    Chances are if you work in a corporate job, in the last year you've taken some kind of engagement or employee satisfaction survey (or perhaps created and administered one), designed to take the pulse of the organization, to assess strengths and weaknesses in the areas of trust in leadership, pride in the organization, and meant to help the C-suite identify areas that might pose a risk to the overall performance of the enterprise.

    These surveys are usually professionally designed, intelligently administered, and provide rich data sets that can be used for analysis and comparison.  But these surveys, like any survey really, are only truly valuable if they are asking the right, and relevant questions.  They tend to almost exclusively focus inward, i.e. - 'What do you think about your managers?' or 'I have pride in working for this company' type questions are typical.

    But I think for many organizations, especially now as the employment market begins to show more and more (halting) steps towards more sustained improvement, the true engagement questions, or really the questions that the C-suite has to have the answer for are outwardly oriented.

    In fact, most leaders might only want or need to know the answer to one question, the one question that we never seem to see in these engagement surveys, namely:

    If Competitor 'XYZ' offered you $10,000 more (or whatever amount is applicable to put the person in the 'I'd need to think about it mode'), would you take the offer and resign from our company?

    Sure, I know what you are saying, no employee would truly want to answer that question, since they would fear a 'Yes' answer would brand them as a 'no-commitment' traitor, and might put their job at risk. And even a 'No' answer might brand someone as having a lack of ambition. So we never ask the one question we really need to have the answer for.

    What people say about their attitudes and tendencies is important, but what they actually do is the only thing that ultimately matters. And when good people start leaving the organization, in seeming contradiction to a stellar prior year employee engagement survey, and leadership seems surprised, perhaps it is because you never asked and don't truly understand the only question about engagement and retention that really is telling. 

    Or you could have a few more meetings trying to strategize on how to move the 'My office environment is pleasant and comfortable' score up a few points for next year.