Smart companies find ways to retain staff

Posted October 13, 2011, by Sue Stevens

While many businesses around the world are retrenching, smart companies are finding creative ways to retain their employees during the global financial crisis and be well positioned for the good times when they come.

The quarterly Clarius Skills Index predicts 50 000 highly skilled Australian workers will be left without jobs as the global economic crisis lashes the nation in coming months. But companies such as Woolworths who plan to employ 7000 workers in 2009 are bucking the trend.

Other companies are finding creative ways to keep their staff – coming up with innovative workplace practices – so they will be poised to respond quickly to the good times and get the jump on their competitors. Companies that retrench their key staff now may well find it difficult to recruit the people they need down the track as baby boomers decide to withdraw from the employment market.

So what are some of the ways companies can keep their staff?

The key is coming up with and implementing innovative workplace initiatives that secure the trust and loyalty of staff.

First and foremost, staff morale is key to keeping a good team going in these difficult financial times. Keeping the ‘vibe’ alive is about open communication and making each staff member feel appreciated. The result is renewed energy and continuing loyalty to the company and productivity.

If company revenue has dropped, employers are finding solutions such as:

  • reducing the number of days employees work and reducing the payroll costs at the same time
  • encouraging job-sharing for duration of the downturn for those employees who are interested
  • giving staff (who can afford it) time off without pay to travel overseas or study (subsidising the cost of the course/s will keep staff who opt for study on side and the company reaps even greater benefits when the employee returns to work)
  • reducing paid overtime which reduces the pay bill and gives employees a better work–life balance
  • giving staff the option of working full time for ¾ pay for three years (to see through the crisis) and giving the staff member the whole fourth year off on ¾ pay.

Whatever employers decide, don’t cut the biscuits at meetings or encourage teabag sharing which will do more to reduce staff morale than anything else.

Most importantly employers should communicate the options with workers and ensure that employees are involved in the decision-making process and are happy with the outcome.

Company managers who keep a cool head and position themselves for growth by retaining and recruiting top talent provide opportunities to grab market share in the short term and be poised to make the most of the recovery that is sure to follow.

Sue Stevens

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