Retention in the Age of Unemployment

With unemployment in Canada at 7.6% and in the U.S. at 9.8%, there does not seem to be a real need for organizations to worry about retention. After all, for every person leaving a job there are 10 people waiting to fill it. Also, people are staying where they are because they fear being unemployed. Also, in bad times, many business leaders have more important things on their mind than retaining staff. Their largest retention issue is with customers.

The reason that retention is still a major issues comes down to one word – competitiveness. The reality of today is that people are being asked to work harder for less money just to keep afloat. There still is a shortage of people – qualified people who can work faster and smarter.

There was a story I head a while ago about a chicken plant. The plant went on strike and the union was broken in the process as people crossed the line. People there were working for slightly more than minimum wage and being treated rather poorly. The result was that, in order to get revenge on the plant, they were spitting in the chickens on the assembly line and letting the customers know about it.

This brings me to my central point. A business is only as good as the people who deliver the product and services to the customers. Organizations that search out entrepreneurial, creative people and allow them to solve problems will thrive. Attraction and retention of these people will determine an organization’s ultimate success or failure and provide them with a sustainable competitive advantage. This is where human resources becomes a funciton of the business (and in fact an integral part of it) as opposed to a spectator.

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