Leon Gettler: The management challenges of flexible working



Flexible work requires a completely different style of management. How can you tell whether an employee is really working when you can’t see them? How do you measure performance if two people are sharing one job? Should employees on flexible work plans be evaluated in the same way as regular employees? All these are important questions.
Flexible work covers many different types of work. There’s working from home, working from the office but also from home at night, working compressed hours, working from an alternative work site, contract work or consulting, job sharing, part time work or casual work of various kinds.

But as Brian Amble says at Management Issues, managers no longer have a choice. Flexibility is here right now and the momentum towards more flexibility will increase as people try to balance work with busy lives.

He cites research initiated by Microsoft which found that increasing flexibility and mobility would make the physical office – a container in which information and knowledge is processed – a thing of the past. And poor management is likely to be exposed when flexible work is introduced.

“‘For years, managers have been used to managing people simply by watching over them,’ said Peter Thompson, director of the Future Work Forum and project leader for the report. ‘With the rise of flexible working, that style will have to change or else we face the prospect of managers holding back the tide of flexible working like a modern day King Canute.’”

Thompson goes on to say that communication, trust and objective setting are critical for managing remote workers, both now and in the future and that managers have to start measuring outputs rather than when the work is carried out.

A paper done by the Queensland branch of the Australian Institute of Management  says that managers need to be trained to manage flexibility. They would need higher levels of organisation, better performance management techniques, top skills in negotiation and communication, the ability to handle complexity and a strategic ability to see the long term benefits even if short term costs are looming large.

“Especially when implementing large-scale workplace flexibility, managers will need skills in change management. In addition, managers may be under constraints when implementing flexible work arrangements, and may need specific resources to implement flexibility effectively,’’ the paper says. “It is important that managers have the skills to ensure that flexible jobs deliver benefits for both the employer and the employees: this means managers need to understand that not all employees have the ability, confidence or power in the workplace to negotiate their work arrangements.”

According to a recent AIM VT survey, 57 per cent of workers said flexible work arrangements kept them at organisations and 54 per cent said inflexible work arrangements stopped women from taking on senior management positions.

Guidelines for managers created at Rice University in Texas says managers need to create a working plan with the employee working flexible hours. That document will have to spell out the hours and days that they work, the responsibilities that are shared, how contingencies will be handled and a timetable for reviewing the arrangements. With people working off-site, they need to ensure the site is appropriate, has all the necessary technology and has been checked over by the Human Resources Department. They also have to establish ground rules about child care. With job sharing, managers have to support the arrangement, anticipate a transition period when employees might need extra support in the beginning, respect the schedule, make sure others respect it and treat all job sharers equally.

How would you manage flexible work?


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Leon Gettler: How to motivate the unmotivated



Lack of motivation at any workplace is every manager’s nightmare. It’s hard to get anything done, projects don’t get completed on time, or may never be completed at all and people are always having sickies. It can also create tensions in the office. Managers have to nip this in the bud and find solutions to get people motivated and switched on to the job.

First, it’s a good idea to think about what not to do. Victor Lipman at Forbes gives managers tips on how to demotivate people. Like for example being chronically late for employee meetings, not returning their messages and ignoring their suggestions for how to improve operations. Losing your temper, taking credit for all their work and not standing up for them when they are under attack will also demotivate.

Conversely, to do the opposite of all that would be a good way to motivate unmotivated employees. As Lipman says, managers should also take a genuine interest in an employee’s career path. They should do something about an employee’s work-life balance by offering some flexibility in schedule and be understanding about family commitments, doctors’ appointments and so on. Finally, they need to align an employee’s economic interests with those of the company through for example bonus schemes. What’s important here, however, is that these schemes have to be available for people at all levels in the organisation. It’s a way of letting people know everyone is in this together. That’s more likely to motivate people.

Jessica Jones at the Houston Chronicle says managers first of all have to determine why people are unmotivated. That means talking with supervisors, co-workers and the employees to learn more about any work-related issues holding them back. These issues might include additional workload, lack of challenging projects, co-worker relationship issues, changes in business policies, fear of layoffs or lack of direction when completing work tasks and projects. Managers also have to review past employee evaluations and see where they excelled and why, and see what changes might have happened that could have caused motivation to dry up. They would have to look at restoring what worked in the past. Providing rewards such as office parties, certificates of recognition or reinstating employee bonus or reward programs to help motivate employees works too. When they’re giving performance appraisals, the feedback has to be constructive. They should also cross-train employees to prevent boredom at the workplace and offer other incentives, such as additional training and opportunities for advancement, to keep employees motivated.

Dan Bobinski at Management Issues has some fairly sweeping suggestions. First, managers need to remind people of the vision and mission of the company and that everyone is on the same team. They also have to ask them to think about where they want to be. Do they want to work elsewhere? They have to tell them that people who are not putting in will be identified by the quality of their work and asked to leave. Managers should also ask people what the department can do to achieve its goals and then set these down to plans of action and timelines. They should then select the best people to track progress on these goals, with one person per goal.

How would you motivate the unmotivated?

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Leon Gettler: Reducing employee turnover

Reducing employee turnover



It costs companies thousands of dollars when employees quit. There are recruiting expenses and time is spent training people and making sure they’re up to speed. Keeping a lid on turnover is every manager’s responsibility. What’s the best way of doing it?

The Wall Street Journal  has some simple steps. Make sure you hire the right people from the start. Interview and vet candidates carefully, not just to ensure they have the right skills but also to ensure that they fit well with the company culture, managers and co-workers. Managers have to make sure the pay packages are right and they might have to get creative when necessary with benefits, flexible work schedules and bonus structures. Every year, they should review compensation and pay to make sure they are keeping up with market trends. They should pay close attention to employees’ needs and provide flexibility where they can. They have to outline challenging career paths so that employees know how to get there. This is where performance reviews and discussions are so important. And finally, they should create an engaging workplace. Simple emails of praise at the completion of a project, monthly memos outlining achievements of the team to the wider division, and peer-recognition programs are all ways to inject some positive feedback into a workforce. A thank you note can work well, particularly when higher-ups are copied into the note.

The Centre for Organisational Innovation in Sydney has similar advice but also recommends managers ensure there is lots of career development and training.

The Monster.com site says managers should listen to staff. “Encourage your employees to form a committee that can discuss the issues that matter to them and have representatives who can come to the management team. You won’t be able to take on all their suggestions, but it’s important to give them your full consideration. You should also look to run anonymous surveys to get the ‘real’ feelings of your employees.”
Managers also need to be proactive if someone announces that they’re leaving. “Firstly find out from them why they want to move on. Are they going for a new opportunity that is too good to turn down? Is it purely for the money? Are they quitting work altogether to take on charity work in Africa? You need to analyse their reasons and work out what you can do to change their mind. If you’re not successful in persuading them to stay, make sure you hold an exit interview with everyone who leaves the company. You will be able to get some frank and honest opinion on how your business operates and you may discover something that you can change to prevent further losses.”

Business Victoria says managers should encourage friendly competition in the workplace where appropriate (e.g. measuring and communicating sales figures and production targets), ensure that any issues raised are dealt with promptly, fairly and transparently, ensure there are opportunities to “touch base” with managers through the year to discuss issues that are important for the employee and measure performance so that underachievers can reach the required levels and high performers are rewarded.

How would you reduce turnover?


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Leon Gettler: Managing gender issues




Certainly Tony Abbott’s one-woman cabinet has raised a number of questions about the role of women in power. Business is not too far behind Abbott with all the stats showing women are under-represented in executive ranks. Quite apart from issues of social equity, it’s bad business because it’s not developing the talent that’s out there. Companies that are determined to recruit the same number of men as before will have to dig much deeper into the male pool, while their competitors will have the opportunity to pick the best people from both the male and female graduates. More women in management roles will deliver enormous value to a business. It requires work but it can be done.

Certainly the latest Census of Women in Leadership shows that Australian women are going sideways when it comes to running the nation’s top companies. Women such as Gail Kelly are a rare breed in corporate Australia – the Westpac boss is one of just 12 women who are chief executives at Australia’s top 200 companies. The figures show there’s been a decade of negligible change for females in executive ranks. Women comprise 9.2 per cent of executives in the ASX 500. Two thirds of ASX 500 companies have no female executives.

In Management Today, I show how a number of companies have done well in this area. For example, Suncorp identified the female talent pipeline for key leadership roles and created targeted development programs for women to build their careers. To make it accountable, it established a diversity council which set down quarterly board reporting to track progress against gender targets. Deloitte has a businesswoman of the year program designed to identify talented women in the firm as early as possible, as well as mentoring and structured development programs. Engineering firm Parson Brinckerhoff has a diversity program and a deliberate strategy of recruiting female managers, no small feat given there are more male engineers than female. The firm has systems to ensure it has at least one female candidate considered for all management vacancies across the company. There is also a requirement to have at least one female present on the interview panel for all management roles.

One of the first steps any company should take is a skills audit to assess what the business needs. If it’s unbiased, more women will be brought into management roles.

As I point out in my piece here, companies like Citi Australia, Deloitte, Rio Tinto, Woolworths, IBM Australia and Telstra now have what they call “targets” for getting women into management roles. Other important measures include setting up diversity councils, ensuring networks are in place to build women’s skills, providing support before and after parental leave and creating better work environments, putting diversity into the KPIs of leadership teams, appointing women to key roles, including those traditionally held by men, and creating programs weeding out entrenched biases.

True, career interruptions that happen when women have families can be expensive for companies. But then, families are a fact and the best companies know how to combine the two so that they have lots of talent on board. As Felice Schwartz at the Harvard Business Review points out, managers have to become more responsive to the needs of the women that corporations must employ if they are to have the best and the brightest of all those now entering the work force. And the best way to start that is by recognising that motherhood is not just about childbirth. It doesn’t begin and end when the baby arrives, it’s a life-changing experience.

“The one immutable, enduring difference between men and women is maternity,’’ Scwartz writes. “Maternity is not simply childbirth but a continuum that begins with an awareness of the ticking of the biological clock, proceeds to the anticipation of motherhood, includes pregnancy, childbirth, physical recuperation, psychological adjustment, and continues on to nursing, bonding, and child rearing.”

This is why forward thinking companies have flexibility, mentoring, diversity councils and specific recruitment strategies built into their employment practices.

How would manage gender issues?

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Leon Gettler: Managing portfolio careers



With more people finding themselves out of work, or having their time at work reduced, the portfolio career is becoming more popular. Portfolio careers often entail bringing together lots of different jobs, anything from working as a temp to consulting to company director. It can also involve volunteer work and time for personal development, which can mean anything from travel to writing books to yoga or learning a language. This is not unlike the student who attends uni, works as a part-time receptionist and does volunteer work at the local mission.

This has been on the horizon for many years. In the early 1980s, management guru Charles Handy argued that workers would be more in charge of their careers by working a handful of small jobs rather than one big one. In 1994, William Bridges wrote the book “Job Shift: How To Prosper In A Workplace Without Jobs” where he said we are all temporary workers and that the time is right for portfolio careers.

There are many reasons why this is happening. First, the shift to service industries in the developed world means that fewer people have been doing hard, physical yakka in factories and mines and on farms and docks. We are not worn out after decades in the workforce. Secondly, the concept of retirement was originally designed around the notion that people stepped down at 65, and then snapped off this mortal coil shortly after. These days, they can be around 20 or even 30 years on from their 60s, and still be active.

Now a lot has been written about how people can choose portfolio careers and what works for them. But an interesting question that is seldom looked at is how managers should handle employees that are working across many different areas.
Talent management strategist Dorothy Dalton says companies need to be smart when dealing with a workplace full of people “moonlighting” and holding down a range of other roles.

“Flexibility for companies is key, of course, but if organisations aren’t careful, they can wind up searching for new talent in an alienated and demotivated workforce, which has struggled to gain skills in a wide range of unstructured and less professional environments,’’ Dalton writes. “It also means a quantum shift from lazy and uninsightful “copy/paste” recruitment methodologies, sadly relied upon by companies and some search consultants alike.”

This requires a different sort of management style at professional services companies. Lawyers have told the Financial Times that you need certain strategies.

Simon Harper from Lawyers on Demand told the paper that expectations on both sides have to be made clear right from the start. “Agree on the time your managers will dedicate to your business and clearly state that they must not be diluted with other projects,’’ Harper says. “Agree a trial period so that both sides can review progress, and address any problems as soon as they arise – there are bound to be bumps in the road. Finally, try to monitor output where possible. You might well find that your managers are as productive despite their reduced hours, because of their increased motivation and energy. This will help you establish a business case for any further requests.”

Rob Eldridge, an employment partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner advises managers to find out more information about the employee’s other business interests. “If it is a completely separate area from your organisation then that won’t raise a conflict of interest but if senior staff members pursue portfolio careers in similar sectors to their main jobs, that could have the potential to become competition for your business further down the line,’’ Eldridge says.

“It would be sensible to obtain information from the individuals about the nature and extent of these other businesses before giving consent for their involvement. In any event, this would be a useful opportunity to remind them of their duties.”

How should managers handle portfolio careers?


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Leon Gettler: Managing a multi-generational workplace

For the first time, we are entering an age where there will be five generations in the workplace: veterans, boomers, X-ers, Gen Y and coming up, Gen Z or what I call, the i-natives, kids now in their teens who grew up with the Internet, tablets and mobile phones. Each generation will have different perspectives and priorities. Different generations don’t share the same work styles. Each will have perceptions of the other, and each will go about their work in a different way. Older workers, for example, might be used to more meetings, younger ones might be content to sort things out over email or messaging. Older workers will have different views about their career paths to young folk. Boomers are more likely to expect people to pay their dues and do their time, Gen X are more sceptical and independent-minded, Gen Y tends to prefer more feedback and teamwork. And IT departments now are dreading the arrival of technologically in-tune kids. All this could potentially create tensions in the workplace. How should managers handle this?

The Wall Street Journal recommends training managers to become more sensitive to the different perspectives. They should learn how accommodate different learning styles, how to create recognition programs and they need to recognise employees’ different needs. Different generations of employees will be in different stages of life which may require offering some scheduling flexibility to manage for people to manage their personal time.

It is also important not to follow blanket stereotypes. As Catriona Byrne, the creative director at SageCo, a company that helps organisations navigate ageing workforce risks, told me: “If someone is a dud at 55, it’s quite possible they were a dud at 25. It’s not about age, it’s more about attitude.”

Indeed, as Jennifer Deal, a Senior Research Scientist at the Centre for Creative Leadership in San Diego, California, says in her book Retiring the Generation Gap, we tend to make too much of generational differences. The generations, she says, are more alike than we think. Her research found that people of all generations want respect; they just define it differently. People in positions of authority want their decisions to be respected, older people want people to respect their experience, and younger people want their ideas and suggestions to be respected. And asking questions is not a sign of disrespect. Similarly, she found that no one really likes change. Analysis of the data showed that resistance to change related much more to people feeling threatened about the loss of power or resources, than it did to their age or generation. When it came to job-hopping, there was little difference. In fact, between the ages of 36 and 40, people changed jobs more frequently than younger generations did. According to Deal, the generation gap is blamed for conflicts that have nothing to do with generational differences. Bad and good behaviour exist in people of all ages. And the conflicts, she says, have everything to do with organisational power dynamics. “Most intergenerational conflict shares a common point of origin: the issue of clout – who has it, who wants it.
So managing a multi-generational workforce is not that difficult. It just requires common sense.”

HR specialists recommend creating workplace choices that allow the work to shape itself around what has to be done, the customers that have to be served and the people who work there. That will create more flexibility in management choices around the different generations’ working styles.

While mentoring could play a key role in bridging generations many companies are now using reverse mentoring where younger managers are mentoring the older executives. That could include everything from technology to work life balance. HR advisors point to examples like IBM which has programs that pair young, talented, high potential experts in social computing as coaches for senior executives. That in turn opens up unprecedented access for young Generation Y employees to top executives. It also allows senior executives to stay in-tune with new technological developments and it creates bridges across specialisations and generations. Reverse mentoring can build relationships that cut across age, rank and job function.

Diversity specialists say managers need to hold diversity and leadership training workshops to make younger employees aware and sensitive to older employees’ needs, strengths and potential contributions and, at the same time, give information to older employees to be more aware of their own actions and their impact on younger people. They also recommend finding out the kind of person each generation thinks is the perfect manager. What do all the profiles have in common? Where do they differ? And how does the manager apply these findings?

How would you manage multiple generations at your workplace?


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Leon Gettler: Creating a flexible workplace

There is now a growing demand for greater flexibility in the workplace. More people are expecting it with the business demands of the 24/7 global economy in combination with employees’ needs to meet work and family responsibilities. However, within many workplaces, flexible work policies and practices are only offered to professional, salaried workers, at the exclusion of workers in hourly jobs. This will need to change. What should managers do?

Flexibility is now in demand from everywhere. Whether it’s about getting some more work-life balance to meet family commitments, or to pursue other interests, it is now regarded as essential for every workplace.

One reason for this is demographics. As we learn here, 70 per cent of all mothers work, 24 per cent of families with dependent children are single parent households, 13 per cent of all households care for someone who is elderly or who has a long-term condition or disability and this will increase as our population ages. Also, there are now more part-time and casual workers and in Victoria alone, about 60 per cent of families with children under the age of 12 use work arrangements such as flexible working hours, shift work, part-time work, working from home, or job sharing to help them care for their children.

At the same time, workplace flexibility is now the key for attracting talented staff, increasing employee engagement and satisfaction, reducing absenteeism and improving the skills of managers as they will have to “think outside the square” more often.

It’s also important to note that the Fair Work Act requires employers to comply with the National Employment Standards. Here is the link to the section in the Act setting out the ground rules for employers. Employers and managers have to provide reasons for accepting or refusing to grant a request for flexibility. The maximum penalty for non-compliance is $6600.

So flexibility is no longer a “nice-to-have-feature” of the workplace. It is now essential. This means managers need to negotiate more arrangements where people can work from home or work remotely, take longer at lunch to attend to other activities like gym or catching up with family, job share and work part time. How do they do it?

Forbes says the first thing managers need to do is focus on the results that matter. It doesn’t matter how the job is done, as long it’s done and done well. Secondly, you need to tailor the packages to suit each individual. You also need to give them a whole lot of options to choose from and also set up systems to manage work-life issues.

The workplace flexibility site recommends looking at range of options like alternating start and finishing times, changing work hours over the month or through the year depending on the demands of the job, letting employee purchase annual leave so they can take longer time off work, letting people job share, work part-time or telecommute and annualising hours so that the company sets down the number of hours per year that people have to work instead of a number of hours per week.

Specialists in the UK say companies should have policies setting a range of flexible options so they’re ready when the requests come in.

And that’s the key for managers – be prepared for people putting in requests for flexible work arrangements. It will happen more often.

How would you create a more flexible workplace?

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Leon Gettler: How to attract talent

Coping with the increasing skills shortages is now the big challenge for managers. The search for quality talent is now more important than ever before. The problem, however, is that the talent pool is getting shallower and many people in stable jobs are looking at what’s around them and assessing their options. What are the best strategies for recruiting talent?

More than 11 years ago, the consultants at McKinsey called it The War for Talent. They found that getting in more talent increased profits, in some cases more than doubling the returns. But they foreshadowed that it would become an acute problem with more baby boomers retiring. How right they were! The skills shortage is an illustration of how that’s happening right now.

So what can a company do?

According to The Wall Street Journal, smaller companies have certain advantages over the big end of town when it comes to recruiting the best and brightest.  They’re usually less bureaucratic. Relationships between leaders and employees tend to be closer. Employees at smaller companies tend to cover more territory in their work compared to their counterparts at larger companies who tend to be more specialised. Many small business owners treat their workforce as if it’s an extension of their family, they tend to offer more flexibility and are in a better position to tailor jobs to individual’s needs. So if somebody wants to work from home on a Friday, it’s more likely to be accommodated in a smaller company. If you are managing a smaller company, you can use these as attractors for talent.

Recruiting talent means thinking strategically.  As Australian Institute of Management VT chief executive Susan Heron told me here, you first need to identify the skills the company needs.  “Before you even start hiring, you have to look at where the business is going. You need to look at the skills you need to bring into the organisation and what skills you will need to beat your competition,” she said.

According to recruitment specialists, flexibility is now the biggest drawcard for attracting talent. We’re talking here about initiatives like job sharing, flexitime, work-at-home programs, shorter work-days for parents, compressed working weeks and phased retirement. Flexibility is no longer a “nice to have” program. It is now absolutely crucial, and not just for women balancing children and careers. It’s highly sought after by Gen Y employees who tend to blend work and life together.

Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Sylvia Ann Hewlett says that apart from flexibility, a culture of recognition is an important non-financial attractor of talent.

In my piece here, I spoke to accounting firms in Western Australia who are really struggling to recruit talent because mining companies are poaching the best number crunchers. What some of them do is get their younger managers to mentor Gen Ys, act as big brother and big sister to them. They become their sounding boards, and also feed the information back to senior management about what needs to be done. It makes these firms more attractive places to work. Maybe it’s a model managers at other companies could use.

What strategies would you suggest for recruiting talent?

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Leon Gettler: Age Discrimination

Age discrimination is the elephant in the workplace for managers. It’s unlawful but we all know workers, both young and old are being discriminated against. Examples of age discrimination can include advertising for someone to join a “dynamic, young team”, not interviewing a person because they are too young or too old to ‘fit in’ with other employees, refusing to employ younger workers because of assumptions they’ll quickly move on to another job, not providing training opportunities for mature workers because “it’s not worth it”, selecting older workers for redundancy, or forcing someone to retire, because of their age.  Everyone knows of cases where this sort of stuff has happened. How should managers handle it?

To begin with, this is not allowed under the Age Discrimination Act. It is against the law to discriminate against an employee because of their actual or assumed age. But still it keeps happening.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, for example, one in five unemployed people were 45 years or older at July 2005 and half the unemployed people aged 55 years and over said that their main difficulty in finding work was that they were “considered too old by employers.”.

It occurs at the other end too. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission  says that young people also face employment discrimination and are assumed to be unreliable, incompetent and lacking in the skills and confidence to deal with
other people in a range of situations.

Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan has described it as a waste of human resources. She says managers should look carefully at their workforce and introduce changes, including more flexible work practices as many of these workers have caring responsibilities, for a frail parent, or grandchildren, or an ill partner, or an adult child with disability. They should also encourage orlderder workers to retrain.

“This is a wonderful opportunity, for our economy, our society and for all of us alive in Australia today,’’ Ryan says. “Instead of wasting millions of potential contributors to our economy, we can and must develop a new and relevant concept of the typical length of the working life. We must find new ways to provide capable individuals with jobs into their seventies and beyond if they choose.’’

The Wall Street Journal says managers can try a range of innovative techniques for managing different generations in the workplace. It’s not that hard. They key is not to assume blanket stereotypes. They should facilitate mentoring between different aged employees to encourage more cross-generational interaction with younger employees seeking the experience and wisdom offered by senior employees. At the same time, older employees should be getting the fresh perspectives offered by younger employees. Managers should also offer different working options like telecommuting and working offsite.

Other solutions include examining the company’s recruitment policy, employment terms and conditions, promotions and transfers, training, redundancy and dismissals as well as policies and procedures to identify areas of age bias, such as sick leave, annual leave and flexible working. They also need policies for age discrimination as well as reporting and grievance procedures and making sure the leaders are on board. Training managers, encouraging mentoring and rethinking promotion and training so that promotion, job-related training or other development opportunities are available to all employees regardless of age are also recommended as measures to address discrimination.

What steps would you take as a manager to end age discrimination?


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Leon Gettler: How to retain staff


The economy might be dawdling for many sectors, apart from mining and perhaps health care, but managers these days need to juggle more than just finances and work coming through. More than anything else, they need to retain talented staff. There are several reasons for this. First, there are skills shortages in key areas like IT and finance. Secondly, changes are happening all the time. Companies are being acquired, and software and technology are developing at a dizzying pace. Companies need more in-house expertise. So what are the best ways to retain staff?

Writing in the Huffington Post, Geoff Williams says it’s  important these days to keep employees challenged. Give them stretch goals so that they feel they have achieved something and learned new skills. He says it’s also important to pay them well. Now if you can’t afford it, there are other ways to do it, he says. Benefits like flexible work patterns and family time can be as valuable as cash. Also, don’t micromanage. If you hired them for their talents, they don’t need anyone looking over their shoulder and constraining them. You also need to make the work environment and facilities as comfortable as possible and finally, if you can’t give them shares in the business, at least make sure there are career paths so that they feel they are getting something out of it.

Forbes expands on these points, saying you need to at the very least challenge them weekly. It also says the company should try to position itself as the employer of choice. Think of Apple, Google and Facebook. They find it easy to attract and hold on to their talent. Forbes says you also need to give employees autonomy to make their own decisions and be responsible for the outcomes. And it’s important to recognise that employees have their own goals and managers should work with them to help them accomplish these personal goals alongside the business goals.

The Wall Street Journal suggests doing things like providing free bagels on Fridays and laundry pick up services, promoting from within whenever possible to give people a clear sense of career progression, putting in programs to help them develop new skills, creating an open dialogue with managers and getting managers to coach them.

One of the landmark studies done on employee retention was done by Kenneth Kovach at George Mason University in the US. As reported here, Kovach got 1000 employees and 100 of their bosses to list the things that they believe motivate employees.

The interesting part is that bosses thought employees would be motivated by good wages and job security, but employees listed factors such as participating in interesting work, feeling appreciated at work and “being in on things.” They ranked job security and good wages as important but lower on the list.

In other words, the key factors for retaining quality staff have little to do with money. It’s more about having the kind of managers that create a place where employees feel challenged and valued.

Any other suggestions? What do you think should managers do to retain the best employees?