How Can I Compete Against The Big Boys

Dear Ken Keller,

My better employees are being lured away from me by larger companies. I want them to stay with me, but I can’t compete against companies offering fatter paychecks, better benefits and other goodies too.

If I could, I would counter the offers, but we don’t have the money. One option is a one-time bonus, but my fear is that once that check is cashed, that will be the end of employee loyalty. A second option would be to provide more paid time off.

I’ve talked it over with a few fellow owners and they don’t have any ideas or answers. My wife says move on. How do your clients deal with this? —John C.

Dear John,

This is a common occurrence. As I have previously written, there is always a talent war because good people are hard to find and great people are a rare find.

That your best people are being recruited away from you should validate your ability to attract top level talent and it also shows an area in need of improvement which is to retain them.

You need to find out, if possible, the real reason these individuals were either looking or why they were able to be lured away. The answer might surprise you.

As a consultant, I can walk into an office and quickly determine who the contributors are and who is just going through the motions.

The contributors have energy, focus and are on a mission. Individuals of this ilk are highly sought after. To retain them, you have to feed their energy with the fuel they desire. You have to keep them focused on something that matters and you have to coach them so they can expand their mission.

Through the decades studies from many sources suggest that while pay is important, personal and professional growth opportunities rate higher when employees are asked where they get the most job satisfaction.

Maybe now is the time to take a step back and ask yourself if you are really offering your top performers the opportunity to learn, grow, contribute and be part of an organization that is moving forward?

Are you investing in their growth? Helping them to become better at what they do? Helping them to expand their capabilities, talents and skills? Are you sharing with them the opportunities that the future will bring to the company and to them?

Whether or not you can retain your best or see them walk out the door hinges on the conversations you have with them and the actions you take to follow through. Don’t wait any longer to start talking, listening, asking questions and taking action.

Dear Ken Keller

At my company we have a birthday party for every employee. It’s a tradition we started years ago. Everyone likes the attention and the recognition, even though some no longer want all the candles on the cake!

The issue is that many of our employees have gained weight and I think that the cakes, cupcakes, cookies and brownies have played key role in this. Without killing the spirit, what can we do? —Angela T.

Dear Angela,

Let me suggest two options. First, instead of having baked goodies at these birthday celebrations opt for healthier snacks like a cut fruit assortment or a fruit bowl. Allow each “birthday boy and girl” the opportunity to choose from a preselected list of healthy choices. The second option is to combine all the birthdays in each month and have one big celebration for all the honorees.

Before you make a change in your tradition, let everyone know in advance what you are planning so they can offer up other solutions that would meet your goal and keep this important tradition alive.