Attracting and Retaining Good Employees

Many wonder what is the magic bullet needed to retain good employees? In my mind, it all comes down to the company culture. Here are some basic tenets that we follow at Seco Tools Inc. to help protect and sustain our corporate culture. This has lead to a workforce that understands their role in the corporation and where all are heading in the same direction.

1. Discover, define and live your company values -“a corporation must first understand who they are; why they do what they do and the way they do it. This set of beliefs should then be clearly defined in value statements. All corporate strategies and company operations must then be evaluated through this set of values. It can’t just be words in the lobby, but an actionable way of doing business. In Seco’s case, our value statements include 1. Passion for the customer, 2. Family spirit, and 3. Personal commitment. These Values are visible within our everyday workplace and we do not put any strategies into place without making sure they reflect these beliefs.

2. Assess new hires for cultural fit -“ At Seco, when we recruit, cultural fit is primary for us. We use a values-based behavioral interview partnered with assessments. When faced with skills/experience or cultural fit, we’re going to select the better cultural fit. We believe it’s not just about what you do, but how you do it, and our employee reviews are based upon this same ideology.

3. Challenge your employees -” Although there is no doubt that salary is extremely important in employee retention, research has shown time and again that the strongest drivers of attracting and retention are development and opportunities to be challenged.

At Seco, every employee has a development plan. We sit down with each employee every year so that they can share their long-term plans with us. In essence we ask them “What are your desires and ambitions in conjunction with the company’s needs?” From this we set short term goals that will help them attain their ambitions.

For personnel that are particularly pro-active and eager to learn, we have a well-defined talent program that develops this group of high potentials. We task these people to work on core initiatives for that company, with each initiative sponsored by a senior level manager to provide guidance and specific training aimed at helping these people become more confident decision makers.

These initiatives are an outgrowth of strategic planning sessions where the executive team purposely only fills in about 80 percent of a plan. We then assemble all the company managers to help finalize the strategy. Then, the identified group of high potential talent is assigned to these strategies.

4. Be communicative and respectful -” These are basic principles of any successful relationship. As simple as they sound, many corporations do not put these into regular practice. Employees deserve to know what is going on within the corporation, whether good or bad.

Establish regularly scheduled corporate-wide meetings to let the staff know how the company is performing and that you appreciate their contributions. In tough times, especially, it is extremely crucial that everyone feels like a member of the team; fully-informed and involved in the success of the company.

5. Establish programs and special events that unite the organization. By establishing various programs -” and these do not have to be expensive -” you consistently illustrate that you value your staff. Bring your child to work day, wellness programs, family days, on-site luncheons to celebrate holidays or special achievements are some simple ways that Seco helps adhere to its “family spirit” principle. Make sure that every employee is valued not just as an employee, but also as a human being.

Whatever you do, start with defining your company values. From there you can then start to build a team of employees who reflect these values, building an organization that is aligned in the same direction, helping to better achieve corporate goals.

Dan Sikora is vice president of Human Resources and Operations at Seco Tools Inc. in Troy, Mich. He can be reached at Seco Tools is one of Metro Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies To Work For.

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.