Monday, June 02, 2008

Easy Come Easy Go?

Easy come, easy go - a phrase most of us have heard all our lives, and there are a number of situations where I suppose it might apply, but when it comes to hiring and retaining talent these days, it is not something most companies want and certainly don't want to encourage.

Yet, if you look at the numbers from any number of sources, including ExecuNet's, the time that employees remain at the same company keeps dropping. Last year in our Executive Job Market Intelligence Report respondents reported they were with their last company an average of 3.4 years. This year's survey dropped to 3.2, and when we asked about industry, this year they said it was 4.2 and that is down from 5.0 in 2005.

The point being that when you come across companies that are doing really innovative stuff that goes well beyond the lip service paid by all too many organizations, it gets your attention for sure.

Bill Taylor is probably a name that is known to many readers, especially if you are a fan of FastCompany. He was a co-founder of the magazine along with Alan Webber. Bill is also the author of a business must read called Mavericks at Work. Taylor also blogs for Harvard Business Publishing.

In a recent post, he waxes ecstatic (as well he should have) over what he found when he went to visit the online shoe superpower Zappos. I am not going to spoil the article for you by parroting back all of the neat stuff they do there, besides, Taylor says it far better than I could anyway.

I will, however, share one tid bit that will give you some idea of the degree to which the company works to make sure that those they hire really want to stay and are as customer service obsessive as the company culture dictates.

The company like many others has an extensive training program for new employees, but about a week into theirs, Zappos offers any new employee $1,000 if they wish to leave the program. Some do, but the company feels that by offering this sort of "bribe" it helps them to retain those who really do "get it." Cool move.

This practice also, I think, does something else. It helps to deliver the message that they want their employees to really feel they are not just a part of the enterprise, but a really important part, and while obviously loyalty to any organization is an accumulation of many factors, including old standbys like compensation and benefits, but step #1 is people need to feel valued.

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