The ‘R’ word

Posted October 13, 2011, by Sue Stevens

There are many words in the workplace lexicon but the one most employers do NOT want to hear is 'resign'. When you invest in good workers, to lose them is costly in more ways than one.

Let's be honest, recruiting and training new employees is time consuming and expensive, and a high employee turnover rate can be equally damaging to staff morale and productivity.

So what can managers do to keep the spark alive for their employees? How do you reverse the trend of changing jobs as frequently as a change of underwear?

Contrary to what many employers believe, keeping valued employees takes more than just a pay rise. Think of other 'R' words like 'reward' and 'respect' and you're on the right track to making sure your company rarely hears the dreaded word – resign.


A marriage stands the test of time when the honeymoon lasts as long as the marriage itself. That means chocolates and roses every day. And that's the equivalent of what Google does. The Internet giant was named the 'Best Company to Work For' in America by Fortune magazine in 2007.

Free gourmet food at any hour of the day, free onsite doctors, a casual dress code, free barbers, lap pools and Wi-Fi enabled shuttle buses that carry employees to work – these are all standard fare for Google employees. It's no wonder that Google gets close to 1300 resumes a day and is expected to see up to 6000 applications per day now that it is the best boss in America.

True, Google has set a very high benchmark but there are benefits that companies can reward their employees with right now. Instead of ruling with an iron fist, employers could think about an 'f' word – 'flexibility' which allows different employees to work according to their out-of-work commitments. It is a reward in itself when the employee feels they are working for competent managers who understand them as individuals. And it doesn't hurt to throw in an extra sick day or allow for a half-day when an employee needs it.


One of the most popular reasons for leaving work is that employees think they have limited chances for advancement or feel under appreciated. Today, work is more than a way to make a living – work is a large part of our lives and people want to enjoy their work (hence, Google's workplace initiatives that provide a terrific workplace culture to make employees' lives easier).

Recognition comes in many forms: appreciation of work, appreciation of dedication and commitment to the company being just three. Of course, nothing spells recognition like a promotion, a pay rise or both!


Respect is one of the most important motivators and it is no wonder. Helping employees to feel good about themselves increases confidence and helps them to perform to the highest standard. From a business point of view, this can make a huge difference to the financial bottom line.

It's a win–win situation for the business and for the people who work for a company that values them and their contribution.


Rethinking your workplace strategies is a good place to start employment reform.

St.George Bank recently introduced an innovative program that allows staff to work for four years and take the fifth year off – with pay. This has benefits for young Gen Ys who like the idea of travelling for a year, young parents who can use the time to spend with their children and people of all ages who can use the fifth year to do whatever pleases them: write a book, travel or just take it easy.

Other workplace benefits that appeal to workers include company share options, job sharing, maternity and parental leave, provision for additional annual leave, salary sacrificing, opportunity to study (and payment to do so), health insurance, onsite gyms or discounted gym fees, discounted merchandise, travel and entertainment offers, social functions and sporting events.


There are many initiatives that employers can introduce to keep their employees to ensure the dreaded word from popping up and there are no limitations to what can be done. Google have proved that more is better when it comes to looking after their people. And if Google is anything to go by, looking after staff is no detriment to making the business a huge success. Innovative work practices work!


Does your company have some innovative initiatives that are radically different from the now established employer benefits? For example, we'd love to hear from any company that has adopted the idea that their staff can work during the commute to and from work. All it takes is a laptop and a mobile phone for many to be able to do their job. For those on long commutes, such a plan could reduce their time away from family dramatically and improve their productivity.

We are all only limited by our imagination to transform the remnants of a 19th-century workplace culture to a truly innovative and progressive 21st-century model.

Sue Stevens

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