Seniority - A Mutual Blessing
Seniority is a proud and honorable accomplishment for any employee, as well as the company by whom he or she is employed. You need to nurture and cherish these long-time relationships:
We covered many of the frustrating and heartbreaking causes and cures of costly turnover in the February and March issues of this magazine (you can access these online at www.pmmag.com; free registration is required.) We try to recruit and hire the best employees available with sincere hopes that they will stay and grow with the company.
One contractor told me he considered his employees as members of his fraternity. I told him that I always liked referring to them as “part of the family” because when you lose one, it hurts as though you have lost a member of your family. This is especially true with those who have seniority.
Our family company in Pennsylvania began in 1918. I went to work on the payroll in 1939 (at the tender age of 8), and was CEO from 1953 until 1972, when I moved to Florida to begin my consulting venture. I always bragged about having a big “family company.” We had families on our payroll - grandfathers, fathers, sons and grandsons. They were just as proud to work for us as we were to have them. I’m sure many readers have and do enjoy those very same blessings.
Naturally, we had a lot of turnover throughout all of those successful years. Just as there are divorces between people who loved each other once upon a time, there are numbers of reasons why turnover remains a constant possibility.
Why Do Your Most Senior People Leave?During my consulting work through all 50 states and most of Canada, we discussed how those causes and cures are related to losing a good employee with years of seniority:
1. Although wages was last on my list of turnover causes, jealousy and resentment about wages tops our list of turnover reasons for those that have seniority. Your long-time employee feels that since he or she has been with you for the longest time, he or she should also make the most money. This is true with your office and management team, as well as with jobsite employees.
Without written job descriptions; performance files; documentation of above-, below- and agreed-upon scope of work; and wage reviews, seniority would be the only measure of how much to pay an employee.
By negotiating a wage based on a realistic “cost to replace” number for each duty and responsibility, your employee will fully understand and choose what he or she would like to do to earn those wages. This wage administration applies to your entire payroll.
2. Depending on your company’s size and the type of work you perform, you have a multitude of options that your senior workers could fulfill:
3. Use bonuses to reward one-time, extra effort, and a raise in wages for promotions and continuing performance.
4. You can add extra vacation days per years of employment as well as a company vehicle or other perks
Honoring Your Senior EmployeesYou should publicly praise and honor those with years of seniority in your company. You can use your company newsletter, your bulletin board, a note in everyone’s paycheck, a lunch or dinner meeting, etc. While adding to your senior employees’ pride and prestige, you give your other employees something to look forward to for themselves. Most companies honor employees’ seniority every year and do something special on each five-year anniversary.
If you want your employees to feel like part of your company family, you need to treat them as family. Here are five tips on how to get involved in your employees’ family lives, but without interfering
1. My No. 1 recommendation is a company-sponsored family picnic. This provides a fun association with every member of your employees’ families or close friends. Picnics can be scheduled during summer vacation, on holidays or on weekends.
You can go to an amusement park, the beach, a public park, or any private facility that will accommodate the size of the group. Some contractors allow their employees to select and plan the entire picnic, including the menu and entertainment.
Of course, you need to talk one-on-one with each employee about their family fun as well as any difficulties. You can reinforce these discussions by inviting your employee and his or her spouse to an after-work dinner meeting for a birthday or hiring date anniversary.
2. A friend in need is a friend indeed! There is a lot of wisdom in that old saying. You should always “be there” when your employees need help.
This may involve a payroll advance, a loan, help with an employee’s credit, and/or company discounts from your distributors and suppliers.
This may also involve helping with household repairs, remodeling, additions, etc.
3. You should invite your employee to join you in company-related golf outings, fishing or hunting trips, sporting events, etc.
4. You should try to attend any of your employees’ family functions where their children are involved, such as little league, high school or college sporting events, plays, graduation, contests of any kind, etc.
5. If something goes wrong and an employee decides to leave, apologize and find out what went wrong. Use a written exit interview and always invite that employee to come back if his or her situation changes.
I hope you realize that all of these situations are only a good start for you to maintain critical long-term relationships with employees. These are incidents that I’ve personally witnessed in our own company or the companies of the many clients I have worked with through the years.
Show your employees you have a positive attitude by wearing a smile, speaking to everyone and make work fun. Happy employees have more fun and get more done!