Retaining Key Employees During Turbulent Economic Times
It’s a common scenario in gaming companies today: A key member of your staff tenders his or her resignation and you’re told that you can’t fill that position until the company improves its bottom line. Furthermore, you’re advised that merit increases will be consistent with the national average and there will be no bonuses this year.
So, how do you retain the employees who are key to your company’s success and how do you motivate your existing staff to assume the remaining workload of departing employees?
How do you do more work with fewer people?
More importantly, how do you make sure you don’t suffer additional turnover when your overstressed, overworked staff members are feeling overwhelmed by their growing workload with half of last year’s incentives?
First, keep in mind that increasing workloads aren’t something new…gaming companies have experienced this trend for quite some time. Our industry growth has exceeded employee availability in the past 10 -15 years, and subsequently, people have been working at a harried pace, not only since the 2000 recession, but well before that in the previous decade.
However, one thing is certain: people are weary and overstressed by the increase in their workload, the rapid pace of change and the uncertainty of the economy.
Understanding that you have probably read a thousand articles on motivating employees, I offer a few suggestions that have worked for other companies within and outside of our industry:
First, determine what motivates your staff members in these six areas:
- Career progression
- Lateral assumption of increased job responsibilities/skill broadening
- Acquisition of new technical skills (typically requiring outside training or certification)
- Acquisition of portable management, administration and people skills
- Work/life balance
- Money and other forms of compensation.
You can’t know what motivates them, unless you ask them. To encourage more open communication you may want to ask some of these questions:
- If you could change one thing about your department to make it more effective, or to make it more fun, what would it be?
- If you could add or subtract one thing to your supervisor’s management style to help them become a better-performing manager and a better people developer, what could they do differently?
- If you could focus on one area where you would like to develop your own skills or gain more experience to broaden your resume and prepare for your next move in career progression (at our company or elsewhere), what would it be?
- What would motivate you to leave our company?
- What would have to change in your present position for you to stay, despite a better offer?
- What’s your next logical move in career progression and how long do you think it will take you to get there?
At the executive level, consider the following compensation vehicles for employees who are:
1. Star performers
2. In mission-critical positions
- Stay bonus – if you are unable to pay a bonus based upon profits, this incentive is payable at the end of a defined period, as long as the employee remains with the company
- Success bonus – if the company exceeds profits in the following year, as a result of the specific contributions of the key executive, the incentive is increased above past percentages
- Enhanced severance – give employees an element of protection in troubled times
Challenge the Top Performers
Some of your superstar employees who feel they are currently “treading water career-wise” may start looking for opportunities with your competitors. One way to head off this threat lies in developing your “keepers” now so that they don’t jump ship once another opportunity comes along.
When outstanding performers feel they are on the fast track, are given an opportunity to prove their abilities, and sense appreciation for their contributions, they’re more likely to stay with the organization.
Finding ways to recognize your employees’ accomplishments and to give them more of your time, can increase the satisfaction they experiences as they drive volumes of work day in and day out.
Listen to What They Are Saying
Take time to chat with your employees – in the break room, dining room, through key communicator groups, at social events and have an open door policy so your staff feels free to make suggestions for improving the workplace, complain about things that bother them and give their opinion on company policies and programs, such as benefits, training, performance appraisal or disciplinary systems, etc.
Remember - competitors aren’t trying to woo your underachievers - they’re stalking your top performers. Today’s cost-containment programs make it a serious challenge for companies to foster employee commitment and reduce turnover.
A good starting point is finding out why employees would leave your company and what motivates them. With that information in hand, you can focus on strategies that make them want to stay.
Casino Careers recognizes the contributions of Paul Falcone, director of international human resources at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, CA, in his article “Retention Tactics that Work “ published by the Society for Human Resource Management and Carla Joinson, a contributing editor to HR Magazine, and author of “Doing More with Less - How to Motivate Your Overworked Staff During Lean Times.”