Cover image for Finding & keeping great employees
Finding & keeping great employees
Harris, Jim, 1953-
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Publication Information:
New York : AMACOM, [1999]

Physical Description:
xviii, 222 pages ; 24 cm
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HF5549.5.R44 H28 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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What makes an employee great? According to Harris and Brannick, great employees are those who match the culture of the company they work for and whose personal values align with the organization's core purpose. Finding & Keeping Great Employees identifies four basic organizational purposes - operational excellence, customer service, unleashing technology, and spirit. By focusing on one of these as their core purpose and using it to drive their selection and retention strategies, organizations will gain a long-term competitive advantage and create a workplace full of self-motivated employees who are highly purpose driven. Based on research into best practices at more than 250 companies, this breakthrough book shares how some of today's most progressive organizations are doing just that - and shutting down the revolving door - by leveraging their core purpose and corporate culture to attract and retain great employees. Written in a crisp, reader-friendly style, with numerous examples and case studies, it shows managers and HR professionals how to simplify and streamline the recruiting process * improve organizational focus by benchmarking their company's practices against the world's best-run companies * achieve a good fit between employees and corporate culture * become the employer of choice within their industry, their market, and their community. In today's tight labor market, finding employees that are keepers is critical to success. This book offers a powerful new action plan to help companies find and keep employees who will enable them to find and keep success." "

Author Notes

"JIM HARRIS, Ph.D. (Indian Rocks Beach, FL), is president of The Jim Harris Group, helping companies create high-performance workplaces, and a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars. He is the author of Getting Employees to Fall in Love With Your Company (AMACOM).

JOAN BRANNICK, Ph.D. (Tampa, FL), is a consultant and former human resources executive specializing in employee selection, assessment, training, and job analysis."

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Harris (Getting Employees To Fall in Love with Your Company, AMACOM, 1996), who is involved in creating high-performance workplaces, and Brannick, a consultant and former human resources executive, here focus on the theme that company and employee values must match‘that there must be common goals in order to create a productive work environment. Written for business and human resources professionals and based on research at 250 companies, this book underlines employee selection and retention as a strategic management function; identifies such important organizational principles as operational excellence, customer service, innovation, and spirit; and outlines a framework to fit any business or industry. While the concept of a shared vision as introduced by Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (Doubleday, 1990) is not new, the emphasis on people and corporate culture as essential instruments of this vision is a logical outgrowth and worthy of exploration. Recommended for business collections.‘Marilyn Rosenthal, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One THE GREAT CHALLENGE "The danger for Corporate America is that the [employee][s] productivity." --BusinessWeek, June 22, 1998 Everywhere we turn, we hear it. Why can't I seem to attract more top talent? Where are all the good employees? Where can I find them? And what can I do to keep the great employees I've already got? The search for great employees has reached an unprecedented level. The labor shortage is now regularly cited as the major deterrent to organizational success and future growth. CEOs and leaders in virtually every industry cry out for more skilled workers. Strategic plans fail, and expansion opportunities are dropped, for lack of manpower. What was once a seemingly endless number of potential employees has become a narrow number of applicants. Furthermore, these few applicants seldom seem to possess the skill level necessary for job success. With today's unlimited array of tools and resources, it should be easier than ever for companies to find and keep top talent. The explosive growth of executive search and temporary help firms, combined with Internet sourcing, brings us in touch with thousands of potential candidates not previously within our reach. Signing bonuses, liberal moving allowances, and spouse job search assistance are now common staffing activities. Organizations are likewise turning to such creative retention programs as flexible benefits, stay on bonuses, and stock options. Yet we still struggle to find and keep great employees. THE CYCLE OF DISCONNECTION The decades of the 1980s and 1990s have been the most turbulent in business history. Large scale downsizings, mergers, and acquisitions have reshaped the once traditional long term connection between company and employee. Radical technological advances in combination with the globalization of commerce have fueled demand for new, higher level job skills in virtually all industries. The ever increasing pressure to work longer, faster, and harder has driven millions of workers not only to question their personal commitment to an all consuming career but to search for meaning outside of the workplace. These are not entirely new phenomena, but in the last two decades, the combined power of these changes have forever altered the once strong connection between a company and its employees. The cumulative effect of this workplace turbulence is a disconnected workforce. When, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a typical American holds more than eight different jobs between the ages of 18 and 32, long term connection to any one company or career is rare. Today's career turmoil has left many workers scarred, scared, and perpetually looking out for themselves rather than the long-term interests. As one professional told The Wall Street Journal, "I never stop job hunting." Employees disconnect on three levels: company, job, and personal. To find and keep outstanding employees, organizations must overcome this growing chasm of disconnection or risk their long term competitive advantage. Company Disconnection Statistics clearly support the conclusion that employees feel a lack of connection to their companies. AT&T recently announced that it desires to cut 11,000 managers by the end of 1999 through a voluntary retirement package. Yet, more than 14,000 managers and employees are now expected to take up such offers. Aon Consulting, a unit of the Chicago-based Aon Insurance company, found that 55 percent of workers said they would switch jobs for a pay increase of 20 percent or less. Additionally, a 1998 survey conducted by Lou Harris and Associates found that 53 percent of U.S. workers expect to voluntarily leave their jobs in the next five years. Mergers and Acquisitions Without question, one of the major reasons today's employees disconnect with their companies is that they fear job loss owing to the uncertainty and instability associated with mergers, acquisitions, and downsizings. It seems almost every company today is either reorganizing or contemplating a merger or acquisition. We read every day of the latest megamergers among the Fortune 500, yet some of the most significant mergers are occurring well under the scan of the Wall Street radar screen--among mainstream America's traditional mom and pop businesses. Consolidators are rapidly buying small, independent, and family owned businesses such as funeral homes, plumbing contractors, and real estate offices, organizing them under one administrative umbrella and changing the very face of small business. The economies of scale achieved during reorganization, merger, and consolidation have one inevitable result: job loss. Workers live in constant fear that their job might be the next one eliminated. The relentless uncertainty of potential job loss increases disconnection from the company. Changing Corporate Focus Another force that disconnects employees from their companies is management's ever changing corporate focus. In their misguided efforts to gain competitive advantage, managers search for the latest Holy Grail, following the hottest business guru's advice by introducing yet another corporate initiative. One month it's service, the next month it's quality, and next quarter it's employee relations. Employees come to question the credibility of management and the focus of the company. They wonder what the company stands for, where it's going, and if the latest initiative is yet another here today, gone tomorrow program. Employees are therefore skeptical at best--and cynical at worst--about their company's perpetually shifting focus. Without a constant, long term core focus, organizations confuse, bewilder, depress, and disconnect both potential and actual employees. Job Disconnection The primary reason employees disconnect from their jobs, though, is that today the jobs themselves are changing ceaselessly. Competition has forced companies to quickly change markets and products, and thus the jobs that produce them. Position titles, descriptions, and responsibilities change overnight. New technologies require a never ending upgrade of job skills. Further, downsizings and hiring freezes force employees to wear multiple job hats. Together, these changes create a radical new job reality: occupational half-life. Occupational Half-Life Every so many years, literally one-half of your current job knowledge and skills become outdated or obsolete. For example, the occupational half-life in 1970 was estimated at somewhere between twelve and fifteen years. This means that by 1985, 50 percent of knowledge and skills an employee had in her job in 1970 had become outdated, even obsolete. Frighteningly, according to the federal Department of Labor, today's best estimates of occupational half-life are in the range of thirty to thirty six months. A constantly changing job combined with a constantly eroding skills base leaves employees feeling more disconnected from their jobs than ever. The Job and the Core Business A second reason why employees disconnect from their jobs is that organizations seldom provide a clear link between the job and the core business purpose. Within an environment of ever changing focus, employees find it hard to keep in sight a strong link between their role and the company's core purpose. Without a strong link, companies primarily rely upon the latest experiment in bonus or short term incentive programs to motivate employees and find themselves in a bidding war for top talent. What was once a powerful company connection for many employees--a stable job with a future--has given way to an ever changing and unpredictable job world. Faced with the reality of job requirements in flux and the weak link between the job and the core business purpose, employees long for a new connection to the company. Personal Disconnection As a result of the company and job disconnections, workers today experience a deep personal workplace disconnection as well. More Than a Paycheck. A driving force behind today's personal disconnection is that today's employees are searching for something more than a paycheck from their work. The baby boomer generation--those 76 million people born between 1945 and 1964--began their careers under the de facto guarantee of lifetime employment. They have, unfortunately, taken the brunt of today's downsizings and reorganizations and are reexamining their work and life legacies. The baby buster generation--the 65 million people born between 1965 and 1984--have seen their baby boomer parents repeatedly outplaced and downsized. Realizing that a lifetime job guarantee is all but dead, they too are looking for a deeper sense of personal connection to something larger than themselves. Unable to find this connection at work, both generations are seeking such connections outside of work. Voluntary Simplicity--at Work Employees today are embracing the concept of voluntary simplicity to fill the chasm of personal workplace disconnection. Voluntary simplicity is clearly understood when a person voluntarily simplifies his personal life. But what does voluntary simplicity at work include? Going from full-time to part-time, perhaps. Or refusing to relocate, or turning down a promotion to become a supervisor or manager because it would complicate life (regardless of increased income). Nonwork examples of voluntary simplicity that are loosely related to work often center upon time: moving into a townhouse to cut back on yard work and maintenance, relocating to a smaller town with a slower lifestyle, or significantly reducing the amount of time for volunteering with outside groups and causes. For millions of American workers, putting the career first while robustly pursuing the bottom line has been replaced with putting the family/personal life first while robustly pursuing a better quality of life. The fast track we relished just a few years ago has lost its luster. After years of rising through the ranks, many employees pause and ask, "Is this all there is?" and, in many cases, they don't like the answer. The fast track often forces an employee's personal life to take a backseat. More and more workers today refuse to allow this to continue. Rather than worry about how their personal life affects their work, employees today are more concerned with how their work affects their personal life. Any aspect of the job that negatively affects their personal life breeds potential personal disconnection. Yet, as all business becomes increasingly competitive, and companies ask even more of their workers, personal disconnection will increase. RENEWING THE CONNECTION Renewing the connection in finding and keeping great employees is to stop the cycle of disconnection by introducing a new, stable employer-employee connection above and beyond connectedness to the company and the job. Organizations need to give employees a deeper, unchanging reason for the company's existence and the employees' success. Employees need to feel connected to something more permanent and ennobling than a company logo or job title. Employees need to feel connected to something more permanent and ennobling than a company logo or job title. If organizations continue to embrace traditional approaches to finding and keeping top talent (such as generous pay, benefits, and personal time), they perpetuate the cycle of disconnection while diminishing their ultimate productivity and profit. NOTES: 1. BusinessWeek (June 15, 1998), p. 53. 2. St. Petersburg Times (February 8 1998). Copyright (c) 1999 Jim Harris and Joan Brannick. All rights reserved.