Right now the economy sucks; there is no other way to say it. Yes, the political spin mongers are out there telling us about how rosy it is supposedly getting, but I like that old Mark Twain quote “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics,” (thanks to : Mark Twain. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved May 25, 2010, from Brainy Quote: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marktwain128372.html)
The thing is that this recession shall pass, and American business will go on-changed but persevering. At that time, American employers will need to concentrate on keeping and attracting new workers. One thing the American employee has learned from this recession is that they work far too much and enjoy far too little off time compared with the rest of the world (who view Americans as people who work themselves to death).
Here is a wonderful article on the issue: http://users.ipfw.edu/ruflethe/american.html
A company that I worked for seven years had a great incentive and they really didn’t realize it: Every year the business shut down for Christmas week (the week between Christmas and New Years). In a company that demanded a lot from its workers it was one thing that kept the standard front line employee from wandering off to other endeavors even though the company was very stingy with raises and was not the gold standard as far as benefits. The entire week was paid for by the employer.
Other ideas are comp time, 37.5 hour work week, summer business hours, and flex time. One thing I did when I lead a sales team was stagger the work week. On Monday morning we were in at 7am and generally worked until 6, but on Friday we came in at 8:30 and left at 3; in fact, if I saw Jr. sales reps or sales assistants in their cubical after 3:30, I officially kicked them out of the bull pen turned out the lights and locked the door. As a manager, HR wondered why “my people” were so loyal-gee it wasn’t that hard. Needless to say if I ever needed to ask for overtime from someone, it was cheerfully accepted, and I avoided asking very often and my sales people knew it.
Other things I have seen effective were buying the first round after work on Friday night at the local watering hole, giving a hard working but seldom recognized employee the company business card and saying, “take your wife-sweetheart out to dinner and a movie-companies buying (every thing but alcohol).”
Implement these ideas now, and when the big loosening of the economy comes you won’t find your business trying to lock the door’s to keep everyone from leaving. I have seen it from the other side as well, a company who sort of enjoyed being demanding, when the economy loosened they could not effectively conduct business, they did not have enough front line people. Also the growth of job sites like www.glassdoor.com are becoming a very usual part of a person’s job search, and you don’t want your company to be poorly rated here if you want to attract new employees.
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