Employee retention programs are often seen as something companies employ when their good people are walking out the door. "Initiating employee retention strategies after employees have departed is like closing the barn door after your best horses have already galloped out," says Joyce Gioia, President of The Herman Group, employee retention consultants.
A much different approach is needed by employers today, in an employment marketplace that is undergoing significant change under the surface. Below the radar, out of view of most corporate leaders, there is a considerable amount of activity.
"Employee retention is a defensive strategy," says Richard Harris, president of Sales Recruiters International, Bedford Hills, New York. "We’re seeing a strong increase in orders for high-performing sales professionals, so we’re hunting. If you haven’t taken deliberate steps to protect your people from professional recruiters, you risk losing them in the near future."
Harris, recognized as one of the top recruiters in the sales arena, is only interested in the cream of the crop. "If they’re good, we’ll find them," warns Harris, who has no qualms about being described as a "headhunter." "We may be characterized as headhunters," Harris quips, "but we’re really recruiting hearts. If you are not invested in the heart and soul of your people, they’re mine," he says matter-of-factly.
"A strong retention program is the best defense against recruiters," explains Gioia, "whether those recruiters are in-house staff or retained search professionals." The valued employees you want to keep must see their work as meaningful, Gioia says, referring to her book, Lean & Meaningful (Oakhill Press). "Richie Harris is right on the money. The key is to win the hearts, as well as the minds, of the people who work with you."
Recent research confirms that today’s workers—at all levels—are looking for more than just a job. They want engagement with their employer and their work. They want to feel a strong sense of accomplishment, of value, of doing something worthwhile. "Reaching people on that level is essential," says Gioia. "The work we do in the field of employee retention reaches far beyond throwing money at people. It’s all about relationships."
Harris and Gioia were interviewed as they participated in a week-end conference on the connection between professional recruiting and retention held at The Herman Group offices in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Herman Group is a firm of consulting futurists concentrating on workforce and workplace trends and their implications. Emphasis is placed on employee selection and retention as critical strategies. Included in the firm are researchers, professional speakers, authors, and consultants. The Herman Group is based in Greensboro, NC, with affiliates in Sao Paulo, Melbourne, Hong Kong, and Port Louis, Mauritius. Contact Joyce Gioia-Herman at 336-210-3548 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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