By Vickie Elmer
Good news: Companies are starting to worry so much that their talented workers may walk away that they're employing various retention tools -- including tuition reimbursement and higher salaries -- to keep their best people.
More good news: Two-thirds of companies in the last year have created programs to retain talent, according to a new survey by OI Partners -- The Miles LeHane Cos. They are offering the top talent coaching programs, better benefits and better orientation and training, among other things.
Now for the not-so-good news: You can't just order them up, like you do lunch at your favorite food cart. It's more like getting into a hot nightclub: You have to show up in your finery, or know something or someone to make the list.
Before you are presented new perks, you may be measured and ranked, and compared against others, so your employer can determine who are the high-performance people who merit some extras. They may have instituted a performance management system to decide who qualifies for retention perks, said David Miles, managing partner of OI Partners Washington, D.C., office. "They're the top performers; they feel the person has a future with the company."
So for starters, you need to know how your company is measuring its people, and what benchmarks count -- and whether you are on or likely to get on the high performance list.
Then you have to understand that companies are tailoring their retention programs to suit their needs, and also the level you're at in the company. So the popular retention programs for middle managers, according to the OI survey of 174 employers, are coaching or tuition reimbursements, while front-line workers are more likely to be given exit interviews or better orientation and training, ahead of better pay or tuition reimbursements.
Remember: Your perspective on this matters. Show that you're looking to grow so that you can help the company grow. "Somebody that has a mindset that they deserve it, it's the wrong mindset," said Miles.
If you're confident you're a standout, here's five more ways you can make yourself more likely to receive some retention relish:
- Start a career conversation with your boss. Start discussing your goals, and plans, and make it clear that you see your future at the company.
- Ask for training and development. Some employers like to see workers who are aggressive and engaged enough to seek out growth opportunities and learning. So speak up and ask for what you want.
- Match your career training to corporate goals. Make sure that anything you request relates to the company's growth, your enhanced performance or some upcoming need for your department, Miles said. Technological and social media changes are good areas in which to make requests. Say something like "With this, I could make a better contribution" to the new initiative or new technology.
- Be selective. Even though companies are starting to offer retention pay and other things to key people, this is not the late 1990s, when bonuses flowed like beer at a bar on Saturday night. "There's not enough money to give it to everyone," said Miles, and companies want to use the handouts strategically.
- Show results. If your boss signs you up for a leadership coach for three months, come up with some outcomes that you can measure or highlight. Companies want to see that their investments in you are successful, and showing the payoffs could be a powerful way to make yourself even more of a high-performance staffer.
Retention tools will become more common if the U.S. economy continues to warm up, yet workers will still need to earn them. Consider them a recognition of your value, and make sure that you talk about "your contributed value to the company," said Miles.
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