surviving the amazing retention race: the ultimate power & energy reality show

Career Management
International, Inc.

A recent research project by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that 75 percent of all workers are actively or passively looking for new employment. If you are surprised by this “amazing race” to find new and better jobs, or think that your company is immune to this problem, think again. You may be out of touch with the morale of your workforce. Just as millions have seen in once popular, island-based reality series, your employees may be building secret alliances with your competitors.

If your power or energy organization wants to outwit, outlast and outplay the competitors, ultimate survival will depend on its ability to attract, develop and retain talent. The true workplace is not like the one you may have seen on another popular reality show: If you’re not focused on retaining good employees, the next time you hear the words “you’re fired” it might be your employees talking to you.

There is really only one way to discover if your employees are conspiring to flee to another company: Ask them. Solicit their feedback through anonymous surveys. Or, ask the people on the front line. They are often more in tune with the “feelings” and “attitudes” of your employees. Do it now. You can’t afford to wait until a letter of resignation is in your hands.

Consider the bottom line: Turnover costs can easily exceed $40,000 plus, per person, while retention of critical talent with the right skills may result in significant cost savings. Take a look at how turnover costs break down:

“-separation processing costs;
“-replacement hiring costs;
“-training new hire costs; and,
“-lost productivity & lost business costs.

Think right now of one of your key employees. If they are at manager level, multiply their annual salary plus benefits total by 1 to 1.5 times, according to the level of the position. Are they an executive? If so, the multiplier is now to 3 to 5 times the annual salary plus benefits. The dollar amount you’ve calculated represents the turnover cost your business could realize if that key employee decides to move to greener pastures.

It may be time to take a closer look at your company. Today’s business environment is vastly different than it was just five years ago. The demographics have changed and retention strategies that worked well in the “˜80s and “˜90s may not be as effective today. While employee compensation is still the dominant factor in employee satisfaction, today’s workforce is impacted by emotional factors such as job satisfaction and productive relationships with managers and co-workers.

Our industry has made great progress in the diversity arena, but there is still work to be done. Understanding how individuals communicate with others is the first step in maintaining and achieving an awareness and understanding of the value of diversity. Individuals can begin to foster better relationships by first understanding the different interactive styles and personality traits of the workforce and how each person brings valuable perspective to the team.

In this time of deregulation, alignment of skills with strengths and preferences is perhaps most critical in customer service roles within your organization. Successful companies know that customers drive revenue, are expensive to attract and are even more expensive to lose to the competition. Jack Welch, former Chairman of General Electric, was quoted in Business Week on this topic: “No one can guarantee you a job other than satisfied customers. Nothing creates work other than products and services you provide, that create satisfied customers.” When it comes to measuring success, customer satisfaction and loyalty may be the ultimate performance measurement for an organization to use, and employee retention often closely parallels that measurement.

If your organization utilizes a call center to provide customer support, then you know that high staff attrition has plagued the call center industry for years, straining budgets and negatively impacting customer satisfaction. With the increased skill levels required of today’s call center agent, it’s more important than ever to find ways to stem that outflow and keep your quality staff. According to the Incoming Calls Management Institute (ICMI), the following elements are proven to positively impact call center employee turnover and retention:

“-a positive culture;
“-effective hiring strategies;
“-job stress management;
“-employee satisfaction;
“-competitive compensation; and,
“-effective motivation techniques.

If a company wants to successfully compete in today’s retention race, it needs to create an “amazing” environment in the workplace that results in employees feeling good about themselves, their managers and their coworkers. So just don’t compete in the race: Keep your organization’s target on the employee retention finish line.

Silvano is president of Career Management International, Inc. (CMI) and the coauthor of Kingdomality: An Ingenious New Way to Triumph in Management. Feel free to email Susan at

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