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Your Goal for 2006? Maybe It Should be Retention

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An article in today's Chicago Tribune asserts what many of us have thought for some time, which is that companies are increasingly anxious about retaining managers.

Staff reporter Barbara Rose writes: "The U.S. Labor Department's so-called quit rate--a closely watched barometer of workers' ability to change jobs--reached a four-year high in September when voluntary resignations totaled 2.3 percent of total employment. After bottoming out at 1.7 percent in 2003 the rate has been higher than the year-earlier rate for 20 consecutive months."

Rose also quotes a lawyer who says a number of her job-hopping clients are weighing not one but several offers; another source, an executive recruiter, contends that in 75% of the cases he has seen recently, a wavering manager's current employer makes an aggressive counter offer to keep him or her on the payroll.

Meanwhile, a Xerox executive told Rose that, in lieu of more generous compensation, the company retained a number of key managers by focusing on culture. How'd they do it? The source says the copy-machine maker invited these key managers to leadership training seminars and asked for their input in setting the company's agenda. I imagine this sort of participatory management is exotic in Corporate America, but rather more common at entrepreneurial companies. In other words, opening the decision-making process to workers is an advantage that small business owners have when it comes to retaining talent. So don't blow it by acting like the CEO as lone wolf, okay?

Last updated: Jan 2, 2006




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