This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  Hot trend: a happy staff

'The Seattle Times', May 22, 2000

Hot trend: a happy staff

"How to Become an Employer of Choice" by Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia, ($30, Oakhill Press, 242 pages).

In today's labor market, employees rule.

The new buzzword is "employer of choice." That means that people beat down the doors to get hired at certain companies and rarely think about accepting another job somewhere else.

Author Roger Herman, a futurist on work-force and workplace trends, discusses this new strategy in his latest book, "How to Become an Employer of Choice."

Turning into a place that people want to work requires a huge commitment, but Herman says the payoffs are huge.

"Those organizations which do earn the right to be described as employers of choice will enjoy a higher level of performance, greater work-force stability, and a level of continuity that assures preservation of the knowledge base, customer loyalty, employee satisfaction and stronger profits," he writes.

Herman warns that becoming a Mecca for workers requires a lot more than throwing some hot dogs on the fire every Fourth of July.

"The phrase is more than just a buzzword; it is representative of a whole new design of corporate culture," he writes.

That type of culture - with all of its amenities - can be costly.

But so can employee turnover. Herman tells the tale of a company called SAS Institute. Its employee turnover is about 3 percent annually, says David Russo, its head of human resources. But the average in its industry is more than 20 percent. With an employee pool of 5,000 and an average annual salary of $60,000, Russo suggests that the company actually saves about $50 million a year by keeping its employees.

"That's how Russo pays for the gymnasium, for on-site medical care, for all of the . . . family-friendly items," Herman writes.

Such examples can be found in boxed vignettes on every page of the book and are its strongest part. Most of what Herman says in the larger section of text on the page is nothing new, although he covers all ideas on attracting and retaining employees.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

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