From file "014_pss" entitled "PS06EDIT.qxd" page 01
From file "014_pss" entitled "PS06EDIT.qxd" page 01

When you hire new employees, how do you keep them from walking out the door after you have invested time and money in the hiring and training processes? Many human resources (HR) managers in the LBM industry currently grapple with this issue, and they are not alone. Overall, HR managers nationwide believe that employee retention is a primary business concern, according to a 2006 study by Monster Intelligence, a sister operation of online job search engine, which found that 70 percent of those polled find keeping employees in the fold a challenge. The research also revealed that respondents believe that their workforces are maturing and a disproportionate percentage of their workers will hit retirement age in the next 10 years. In tandem, the study noted that the anticipated growth rate of the native workforce in this country is going to slow .06 percent between 2000 and 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to Dr. Jim Harris, a noted consultant and award-winning author on subjects including human resources and leadership who contributed to this month's special HR report (see “Perfect Match,” page 54), other recent surveys have come to similar conclusions. He cites a Gallop Organization and Fortune magazine survey that found that 70 percent of current employees are disengaged from their work and workplace; research from suggests that 92 percent of employees are unhappy with their work/life balance; and a study from found that up to 53 percent of current employees plan to voluntarily leave their jobs this year.

These trends pose a definite challenge for LBM suppliers, especially in light of the tremendous growth the industry has experienced in the past few years. How can your company take steps to retain employees in today's competitive labor environment? I did some research on the topic, and here are a few of my picks of top ways to help keep top employees engaged in their jobs and on your corporate team.

  • Don't focus on your overall retention rate; zero-in on keeping your top talent on board. As Harris puts it: You don't want to keep the wrong people, “those who are loyal but unproductive—retired on the job.”
  • A top strategy identified in the Monster Intelligence study is to tie supervisors' compensation to retention performance to make them more accountable in the process.
  • Another finding from Monster: Create a succession plan that is proactive and facilitates a career path for top performers to advance.
  • ToolBase services, a housing industry resource for technical information, advises never to discipline or embarrass an employee in front of co-workers; pull him or her aside to discuss the problem. On the flip side, always praise employees in front of co-workers if they go above and beyond the call of duty and/or exemplify team spirit.
  • An additional tip from ToolBase: Respect your workforce and give employees reason to put down roots. Make your company a great place to work.
  • A study conducted by Hewitt Associates, a provider of human resources outsourcing and consulting services in 35 countries, suggests using variable pay programs to attract and retain employees. They can be used as a way to motivate, rather than just reward, employees. These programs can include business incentives, which reward employees on an individual or group basis for a combination of financial and operational measures; special recognition programs, such as small cash awards or merchandise for individual or group achievements; individual performance rewards based on set criteria; and stock options/ownership.
  • Lisa Clift, Editor, ProSales

    There's never going to be a cookie-cutter approach that LBM companies can use to improve employee retention because every organization has its own corporate culture and market challenges. The best way to develop your company's strategy is to do the homework and develop a long list of potential retention strategies and best practices. Then hone down your own plan based on the approaches that most closely align with your business philosophies and objectives.