Culture and Commitment: It is a common misconception that retention is the sole responsibility of a company's Human Resources (HR) Department. In practice, a successful program includes buy-in from all departments and levels of an organization. Owners, top executives and managers must jointly establish company operating principles that define its value system. Further, these leaders must take an active role in promoting, communicating and practicing this culture. A strong company culture is one that places value on people, fosters teamwork, is forward thinking and encourages open communication.
Additionally, it is important to point out that employees typically don't leave companies. Rather, they leave managers. A poor relationship with a manager is one of the primary reasons people become dissatisfied. One solution is periodic leadership training and retraining directly taught by company leaders. These sessions can help all employees re-connect with the company's values and mission. Additionally, allowing employees to attend conferences and professional development seminars validates a keen interest in an employee's professional development -- strengthening not only the individual's commitment to the company, but also the message that the business cares about the long-term success of all employees.
Welcoming an employee into your company may seem like an easy task, but many organizations fail to plan accordingly. Understand that integration must begin before the employee's first day of work. While a new job can be exciting, it also comes with feelings of fear and vulnerability, not to mention the stress of fitting in, meeting new people, and learning new processes. An individual's first impression can be lasting, so it is critical for companies to take a proactive approach toward easing their transition.
Begin with a welcome letter from a direct supervisor, the owner or other recognized leader. The letter should share the company's vision, culture and outlook for the future, and it also should reaffirm the company's excitement about the hire. Also, it is ideal to have the employee's work space furnished, business cards and name tag ordered, office supplies stocked, and any other required tools ready for the first day of work. What better way to prove your company's enthusiasm to your new colleague? When the new employee arrives, make it someone's job to greet and welcome him or her. Provide introductions to existing employees and schedule lunches with a variety of people.
Having a buddy system or assigning a mentor to each new employee also is very helpful for easing tension or feelings of nervousness. Ideally, the mentor is someone who recently held the same position. Typically, new employees have numerous questions - some big and many small, and the mentor becomes a person the employee can confide in, offering support and information needed for a smooth transition.
An orientation program should not conclude after a series of PowerPoint presentations and paperwork on the first day. A truly effective orientation program is one that demonstrates a long-term commitment toward employee development. Many businesses have formal training programs that last several weeks to several years. Training programs vary in nature; but typically in the A/E/C industry, training programs are very job specific.
In other industries, Fortune 100 companies have experimented with methods that educate employees about all aspects of a business. For example, many accounting businesses and financial institutions provide training programs that allow new employees to work at every level of the company - from teller to assistant manager -- for their first two years before they can assume a management position. This broad experience gives employees an understanding of the challenges faced in a variety of roles and provides a clear picture of department interaction.
The A/E/C industry is learning from the successes of these broad-based training programs. Some savvy businesses have initiated training programs that rotate new employees throughout numerous company divisions, such as project management, estimating, business development, manufacturing, branch operations, detailing/project coordination and engineering/design.
Whether job-specific or broad in scope, training programs do more than teach processes and procedures. They promote teamwork, allow employees to build relationships, increase employee support channels, illustrate potential career paths and broaden the individual's knowledge of the company and industry - ultimately helping employees feel valued and connected to the organization.