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Retention Tune-Up

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Retention Tune-Up

These days, there are many more job opportunities in home building than quality candidates. The best ones are being courted and wooed on an almost daily basis. What keeps employees attracted and loyal to their company?


By Bob Piper, The Talon Group February 28, 2006
This article first appeared in the PB March 2006 issue of Pro Builder.

These days, there are many more job opportunities in home building than quality candidates. The best ones are being courted and wooed on an almost daily basis.

What keeps employees attracted and loyal to their company? Here are a few of the common denominators from our vantage point:

  • They have quality reputations and take great pride in their brand. That pride tends to be shared by the employees in the organization.
  • They treat their employees fairly and with respect.
  • They celebrate their employees' successes and help pick them up when they fail.
  • They are consistent in how they conduct their business, inside and outside the organization.
  • Their compensation and benefit programs are competitive, realistic and easy to understand.
  • They invest quality time during the hiring process to really get to know candidates before they hire them.
  • The work is enjoyable and interesting.

Ph.D-turned-headhunter Dr. Tim Rutledge approaches employee retention from an employee engagement standpoint. He defines employee engagement as "employees being attracted to, committed to and fascinated with their work."

Rutledge believes the essence of employee engagement rests at the grassroots level, i.e., the relationship between manager and employee and sees this as critical to any sound retention strategy.

Although a good retention strategy might start at the top, to be truly effective it must be executed well at all levels of the organization. All managers and supervisors must buy into the program. It should be part of their job description and responsibility and even their bonus calculation. After all, employee turnover costs your company money.

In the January issue, we talked about the benefits of doing employee satisfaction surveys. One of the key deliverables of an ESS is the message that employees are valued and appreciated. When employees feel that way, they are more apt to stay with a company and make long-term contributions.

What does valued and appreciated look like? Like DNA, each employee has his or her own unique value system. No two are identical; similar maybe, but not identical.

How are you expected to know the components of your employees' value systems? Start by following Dr. Rutledge's lead and talk with your direct reports, then encourage them to do the same with their staff. Ask the following questions of your staff:

  • Which recent work project gave you the greatest satisfaction?
  • When was the last time you felt you were making a meaningful contribution?
  • What can you do to better support your staff?

Once you begin asking the questions, follow it with the next best thing: shut up and listen! That alone might send them the best message of all.


Author Information
Bob Piper is the founding Partner of the Talon Group, a leading retained executive search firm specializing in the real estate development and home building industries.

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