Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Time For a Coffee Break! => Topic started by: oceanus on January 27, 2013, 05:23:03 PM

Title: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: oceanus on January 27, 2013, 05:23:03 PM
(I didn't put this in "All in a Day's Work" because it's not an etiquette issue.)

I periodically conduct some personal business with a company that employs a small staff (less than 10 people).  I go into the office maybe once or twice a year, and I’ve chatted and gotten to kind of know some of the people.   I found out that ALL of them have worked there for over 15 years (several over 20 years and a couple 25+ years).  It’s not a fancy place, actually quite low-key and average.  Only a couple private offices and a tiny break room.  Most staff sit among each other – no cubicles.

They mentioned that one woman left a year ago after 23 years, but only because her husband retired and they wanted to move to another state to be closer to family.

I think this is rather unusual – maybe because in the past I worked at a few places with high turnover.

So, I’m thinking that some (maybe all) of the following apply to that office:
1) They are very highly paid
2) The benefit package is superior
3) The people like each other (and the boss/owner) – a lot
4) They really love what they do

The work is not easy - actually they all seem busy and the field (commercial real estate) can be quite competitive.  The boss must also be good at picking people who blend well and are not HR headaches.

Am I missing anything – what do you folks tnink?

Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Sharnita on January 27, 2013, 05:28:42 PM
They feel respected in the workplace.
They feel safe in the workplace.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: oceanus on January 27, 2013, 05:35:29 PM
By the way, the company has been in business and very successful for over 80 years.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: JenJay on January 27, 2013, 05:41:49 PM
They feel respected in the workplace.
They feel safe in the workplace.

That'd be my guess, too.

At my last job the work was dirty and sometimes difficult, the pay was low, benefits not great, hours not ideal and frequently hard to come by and the boss was a big micromanager. I could have dealt with all of it but upper management treated us like we should be thanking them that we even had a crappy job and that is why most people left, myself included. Being treated like you're valued goes a long way!
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Slartibartfast on January 27, 2013, 06:42:10 PM
The only other factor I can think of for companies like this (not necessarily this one specifically) would be "They're all related to each other"  ;)
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 27, 2013, 08:03:47 PM
Staying with a positive perspective, they all feel appreciated (financially and emotionally) and respected. 

From a negative perspective, they are in a specialized industry and in an area with limited opportunities.

Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Bijou on January 27, 2013, 08:11:56 PM
It sounds like the morale in that workplace is high.  I think respect between the owner and the employees and among the employees themselves may play a part in this. 
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: MorgnsGrl on January 27, 2013, 08:22:50 PM
I just wanted to say that reading this gave me an unexpected happy. My dad ran a hardware store for 25 years (following his own father running it before that) and had a number of long-term employees that were my family's friends as I grew up. Their children were my childhood friends. I am still in touch with one of the employees today, although my dad has been dead for ten years and the store closed nearly as long. The thought that my dad helped create an environment where the employees felt valued and safe and well-compensated is really great.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: yokozbornak on January 27, 2013, 08:32:28 PM
My DH works for a fairly large company (1000+ employees), and I am amazed at the low amount of turnover that they have.  Right now, they have had some turnover because of people retiring after being there for 20+ years, but people rarely quit for another job.

Here are somethings I've noticed.  First, they are privately owned so they don't have to answer shareholders.  Profits are reinvested in the company and shared with employees.  They also have a wonderful benefits package including a pension plan (almost unheard of nowadays).  The pay is very good although not the highest around, but the benefits definitely make up for that.  They really are generous.  DH was involved in developing a project this past year.  One day, he was called into a high level manager's office and handed a nice bonus check and told that they just wanted to say thank-you for his hard work on the project.  They also always give a large Christmas bonus and a yearly bonus each year.

I have noticed that people who work there really have a vision for what they are doing.  I know my DH really feels like his work will have a positive impact on other people, and I think most people who work there feel the same way.  I think they really foster a sense of purpose.

It's not perfect, but he loves being there.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Sophia on January 27, 2013, 09:00:26 PM
There is extremely low turnover where I work.  Well, among those that last more than a few months.  I think a big part is that it is run by good, smart, hard-working people who don't mess up or do things halfway. 

For example, I've always hated company parties.  I love this companies Christmas party (held in Jan because December is really busy for us).  Was at a family-style restaurant and they chose the good stuff, and good wine at the open bar. 

One of the higher-ups got a large box of fruit from a customer.  He left it in the break room.  It was a hit.  Now we always have good fruit in the break room.   

An official company poster in one of the conference rooms looks like a typical feel-good poster.  It says "Meetings:  No one is dumb as all of us."
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: kareng57 on January 27, 2013, 10:00:16 PM
There is extremely low turnover where I work.  Well, among those that last more than a few months.  I think a big part is that it is run by good, smart, hard-working people who don't mess up or do things halfway. 

For example, I've always hated company parties.  I love this companies Christmas party (held in Jan because December is really busy for us).  Was at a family-style restaurant and they chose the good stuff, and good wine at the open bar. 

One of the higher-ups got a large box of fruit from a customer.  He left it in the break room.  It was a hit.  Now we always have good fruit in the break room.   

An official company poster in one of the conference rooms looks like a typical feel-good poster.  It says "Meetings:  No one is dumb as all of us."


It sounds like www.despair.com.   Even for a friendly, well-managed workplace - their posters/tools are absolutely hilarious.  I used to keep the "tradition" poster in a frame on my (physical) desk top.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: cicero on January 28, 2013, 02:24:04 AM
I can say about my current job (non profit org) - the pay isn't great, we work really hard, there is no money for anything but:
our boss respects us and has our back and he works 1000 times harder than anyone. there is little to no gossiping and there is no back stabbing. there is a degree of turnover but that is because there is little room to move ahead. and the people who work here are all great (the not-so-great are either down sized or encouraged to find other jobs).

my previous job (also non profit) - was horrible. same low pay, same hard work but there was a lot of (boss-sanctioned and encouraged) back stabbing and gossip. people stay there forever because it is a small, specialized area of expertise and there are not many jobs in the field.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Ceallach on January 28, 2013, 04:32:03 AM
Honesty, trust and fairness lead to loyalty.  Good benefits / salaries help too but it's usually working conditions eg how happy they feel going to work each day that really makes a difference.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Geekychick1984 on January 28, 2013, 05:43:37 AM
The company I've been with for the last 2 1/2 years is like that.  It's actually a larger company (over a 1,000 employees), but the pay and benefits are good, it's an open door environment, people treat each other with respect, and they understand stuff happens with regards to personal illnesses/emergencies.  I've never been given a guilt trip for being out sick or having to go to the doctor.  In fact, I broke my ankle last year, and they let me work from home for two months, which kept me from going insane.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Just Lori on January 28, 2013, 06:17:44 AM
I think it's helpful to have an honest management team.  Employees aren't stupid; they can tell when their boss is spinning a tale or trying to hide something.  They also want their concerns to be taken seriously, even if the outcome isn't what they actually want.

When I was out of college, I worked for a company in Florida.  The pay was ridiculously low, and the big boss (who drove a luxury car and lived in a nice home) would tell us, "You're being paid in sunshine."  Well, the landlord didn't accept payment in the form of sunshine, you know?  My immediate supervisor, though, fought for every penny in a raise and told us look, this was never going to be a high paying job, but use it for the experience and enjoy the location and move on when it was time.  I imagine a lot of people stuck around longer than expected because they were treated like intelligent adults by their direct supervisor. 
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: oceanus on January 28, 2013, 02:59:55 PM
After I started the thread I thought about a friend of mine who works for a small company with very low turnover.  The pay and benefits are good, but he said everyone genuinely likes and respects each other.   The people all have unique skill sets which are hard to find due to the nature of the industry.  Also, the company is located in a very picturesque (almost fairy tale) suburb.  Most of the staff lives there and several walk or bike to work.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: demarco on January 28, 2013, 04:11:14 PM
When I was interviewing for my first job out of graduate school I interviewed at a place where most of the professional staff had been there forever.  I naively assumed it was because they liked the place and said as much to the boss. His response was that no, they didn't like the place but they were trapped, mainly by family circumstances. 

I was offered a job there and, idiot that I was, I accepted it.  I turned out he was right.  They were stuck and soon so was I. 

Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Giggity on January 28, 2013, 06:27:19 PM
What do they say when you ask them?
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: oceanus on January 28, 2013, 06:29:10 PM
What do they say when you ask them?

I asked a couple people and they simply said they really like their jobs and it's a good company to work for.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Giggity on January 28, 2013, 06:34:23 PM
There you are, then! They are lucky folk.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: oceanus on January 28, 2013, 07:40:29 PM
Well, they didn't go into detail (it was just quick casual conversation).  I felt there was more to it, and also wanted to get opinions from others who might know of similar  (low/no turnover) work environments.

I've always felt high turnover (even if the salaries are high) masks internal problems which are often not discernible during an interview.  At least that's been my experience and I've also heard stories from other people.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: mbbored on January 28, 2013, 10:46:49 PM
My job before going back to school was at a place where most employees had been there 20+ years. The pay was ok, but the benefits were great and the management treated their employees as prized assets. Breaks, lunches, sick leave and vacation were treated as sacred and overtime was generous but was almost always optional. Gossip wasn't tolerated, neither was sexism, which is prominent in a lot of labs in that particular field.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: TootsNYC on January 29, 2013, 12:26:49 AM
My intro-to-management class taught me that the No. 1 motivator for people is when they feel that the work they do is important.

When they feel that they influence what the company does and whether it succeeds. Ditto their workgroup.

I've also heard the truism that generally people don't quit jobs; they quit bosses.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: cicero on January 29, 2013, 05:54:33 AM
Well, they didn't go into detail (it was just quick casual conversation).  I felt there was more to it, and also wanted to get opinions from others who might know of similar  (low/no turnover) work environments.

I've always felt high turnover (even if the salaries are high) masks internal problems which are often not discernible during an interview.  At least that's been my experience and I've also heard stories from other people.
that's actually not always true, and for sure the opposite (low turnover reflects a wonderful work place) is not always true either.

High turnover can be coincidental, or it can mean that this is a great place to work but little room for promotion. and low turnover can reflect a bad financial climate (in general), an industry with low employment opportunities, or a *bad* place that has other qualities (e.g., telecommunicating which is good for parents of young children, or a good medical plan that someone cannot give up).
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: snowflake on January 29, 2013, 10:57:59 AM
I think the most important thing is treating people humanely.  By that I mean keeping in mind that they are living breathing and autonomous beings and understanding that yes, they are there for the paycheck.

The worst place I worked for (average staying time was about 2 months, no joke) was run by a mad woman who had no concept of that. She had learned in business school that the most important thing was that people feel valued and stable.  So she would say: "We value you so much!  What would we ever do without you?  You are doing such a good job!"

BUT she'd throw a fit if it was suggested that maybe they shouldn't pay half of market rate.  Meetings and what she thought of as "fun" projects were unpaid (because we weren't really working.)  She would fire people after lots of positive feedback.  Now I won't lie - the people she fired were not that great, but I thought it was just awful to fire them after telling them how wonderful they were for a month and not actually saying, "I need you to do X instead."  (Not to mention the fact that she had to hire people with very poor references to even keep the place partially staffed.)

So in other words her actions pretty much said, "You aren't worth our money, and I might axe you tomorrow for whatever reason.  So people quit in droves.  The company was actually doing pretty poorly because of that.  She upped the talk and never walked the walk.  Just as an example - the billing clerk made about 40% of what he could get elsewhere and had an insane amount of work.  So the position was filled about 6 months out of the year by accounting students whose other option was to work at McDonalds for the same amount.  Once the students had it on their resume they would get a better job making twice as much with better hours and quit.  It would take forever to find another clerk who would work for low pay.  Oh, and hiring billing clerks who have only worked at McDonalds?  They were never as aggressive as they should have been on outstanding accounts.  It never occurred to her that by being too cheap to pay a couple of thousand for a real billing clerk, she was forgoing hundreds of thousands every month from clients who had no one making them pay up. Seriously, the outstanding A/R was in the seven figures.

Instead The Boss just kept reading books about how to make people feel "valued" and paid the lip service.  I don't think she ever stopped to say, "Well what would a human actually need in life."
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Cami on January 29, 2013, 11:38:23 AM
Based upon my experience, low turn over is due to several factors:

1. Good pay/benefits
2. Feeling valued/being treated with dignity
and to a lesser degree:
3. Feeling part of a team in which you have what you think are real relationships with coworkers/bosses/clients.

I recently saw a place go from low turnover to high turnover because TPTB didn't understand why people took and/or stayed at their jobs. The jobs were often difficult and frustrating and TPTB actively discouraged friendships amongst staff. There had been no raises for over 5 years, but people generally did feel that they were doing valuable work. Even without the raises, they were paid pretty well and had great benefits --really awesome benefits. The average length of tenure was 20 years for full-timers and 10 years for part-timers.

A new boss came to town and decided to win points with the big bosses by cutting costs. He summarily cut the benefits, forcing people to contribute huge amounts towards health insurance -- which employees MUST take. The average ful-time employee ended up losing nearly 10% of their take home pay to these new "employee contributions." The average part-time employee was no longer eligible for these benefits at all.  In addition, people felt their years of hard work under difficult and frustrating conditions and accepting no raises were being ignored and unrewarded. They felt that the boss' attitude was, "Peons, be glad you have a job. Now come here and kiss my ring."

Result: ALL of the part-timers quit within 6 months. 75% of the full-timers have quit. They have been unsuccessful in recruiting replacements who stay longer than 3 months.

But the bottom line looks great! So all is wonderfullllllll.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: cheyne on January 29, 2013, 01:42:25 PM
The "career sins" people are let go without fanfare before they can ruin the workplace.  Gossip, slacking, habitual tardiness, etc... aren't tolerated in these type of workplaces and the staff know it.  How better to make people feel valued and appreciated than to not force them to work with someone who is not doing their job? 

Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Cat-Fu on January 29, 2013, 02:10:34 PM
Personally, I don't see low turnover as a good thing. To me, that signals that a company is willing to hold on to dead weight in order to avoid the uncomfortable situation of firing. (Or, perhaps, that management is unwilling to admit that they make hiring mistakes.)

That said, I think a desirable workplace is one with clear goals & standards for employees, with honest, compassionate management that rewards innovation and results.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on January 29, 2013, 03:23:55 PM
I once worked for a wonderful woman.  She gave us a lot of respect, both in her office with the door shut, and in front of the company in general.  She worked hard, and was positive and upbeat.  To this day, I try to emulate her style, because we loved her and worked ourselves hard to match her example.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: sevenday on January 29, 2013, 03:29:29 PM
NO turnover can be a bad thing, as Cat-fu said, but low? Low is fine.  I view it as a sign that the system is working.  Perhaps not 100%, but working.  People leave for all kinds of reasons.  Moving, retiring, career change, what-have-you.  Low turnover doesn't mean that the company doesn't get rid of the bad eggs.  Maybe they're very good at recruiting/training/molding people into career workers as well.  I only get suspicious when I see very low numbers over a long period of time.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: whiskeytangofoxtrot on January 29, 2013, 04:43:17 PM
I've always told my current supervisor that as long as I'm happy, I'm not going anywhere.

Other people define it differently, but to me, happy= respected and valued. Lately, I'm keeping an eye out for greener pastures, though...


Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: oceanus on January 31, 2013, 04:05:24 PM
Personally, I don't see low turnover as a good thing. To me, that signals that a company is willing to hold on to dead weight in order to avoid the uncomfortable situation of firing. (Or, perhaps, that management is unwilling to admit that they make hiring mistakes.)

That said, I think a desirable workplace is one with clear goals & standards for employees, with honest, compassionate management that rewards innovation and results.

Just because a person has been at their job for a long time does not mean they are "dead weight" that management was/is afraid to fire.

I have many friends and relatives who after 10, 15+ years are still at their jobs, and have moved up the ranks at several well-known companies and organizations.  They are not dead weight and their management made no mistake in hiring them. Quite the contrary.

A revolving door company with people frequently quitting usually means there are things wrong internally - the job was misrepresented, expectations are unreasonable, lots of infighting, people not paid fairly or some other internal factor. 

I don't see how high turnover can be seen as a good thing, but obviously we see the situation differently.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Cat-Fu on January 31, 2013, 04:32:44 PM
I never said high turnover is good—in fact, I see that as a red flag to jump ship even *more* than no/low turnover. I also don't recall saying that it's bad for people to stay at a company for a long time—although it is often difficult to tell the difference from the outside between company loyalty and the person who has entrenched themselves deeply in a company to hide their mediocrity.

There is always a happy medium. :)
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Hmmmmm on January 31, 2013, 05:16:41 PM
I never said high turnover is good—in fact, I see that as a red flag to jump ship even *more* than no/low turnover. I also don't recall saying that it's bad for people to stay at a company for a long time—although it is often difficult to tell the difference from the outside between company loyalty and the person who has entrenched themselves deeply in a company to hide their mediocrity.

There is always a happy medium. :)

I agree with Cat-Fu.  In most large companies, there is an expectation of some turn over.  No turn over means less opportunities for newer employees to advance.  It also reduces the influx of new ideas and experiences. My department in my Fortune 500 company is currently dealing with this right now.  We have average turnover in the lower pay grades, but with the higher ones, we've all gotten pretty comfy/cozy in our jobs and with our benefits and if we get bored with our current role, we switch with someone else so we get the opportunity for new challenges too.  If we don't start seeing some turn over in my level, we are going to start loosing more of our lower ranks because they don't have the opportunity to advance. 
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: oceanus on January 31, 2013, 08:18:14 PM
OP here. The company I referenced in my initial post has less than 10 people (8 to be exact).  In addition to low/no turnover, to say they are very successful in their field would be an understatement.  I don't think that 'dead weight', or 'lack of influx of new ideas and experiences' are issues.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: girlysprite on January 31, 2013, 10:08:13 PM
I see that good management, where people feel that they are valuable, often goes hand in hand with decent pay and good benefits. I think that when management believes in the worth of their workers and respect them, they often also engage in other efforts to 'reward' those who work for them, by giving good pay and benefits.
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: CakeBeret on February 01, 2013, 04:05:25 PM
I would say the #1 thing would be good management/valuing employees.

My husband works as a Widget Maker. He has pretty much the most plush job a Widget Maker can have. It's with a large company, so he has plenty of work; he gets paid per hour rather than per widget; he has good benefits and great pay for his field; he has optional overtime which pays extremely well; and he has opportunity for advancement. 90% of Widget Makers are not so lucky.

And yet, his experience at this job has been hell because of a bad boss. He is constantly berated, told that his productivity--while well above average--is not good enough, told that he is worthless and replaceable, and literally screamed at for any and every minor infraction. His boss has never had any formal management training and seems to think that intimidation is the best tactic. It's no wonder that, despite the plushness of his job, his location has very high turnover.

The worst part is that he's spent years looking for a job in his field that pays near his current salary and offers benefits, to no avail.

(Thankfully, a transfer is in the works and we will likely be relocating soon!)
Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: oceanus on February 01, 2013, 04:23:12 PM
Quote
He is constantly berated, told that his productivity--while well above average--is not good enough, told that he is worthless and replaceable, and literally screamed at for any and every minor infraction.

 :o Yikes.

Sometimes for whatever reason(s), a horrible boss is tolerated, and can be responsible for a lot of turnover.

Transfer sounds like a really good idea.  No one should have to put up with that.


Title: Re: Low (or no) turnover - what's their secret?
Post by: Jocelyn on February 05, 2013, 10:39:53 PM
The best bosses I have had created a safe environment, where it was OK to own up to making a mistake; you were encouraged to learn new skills; you were seen as an individual, not a widgit; you were trusted to do your job with a minimum of oversight but with adequate supervision; and they responded to your personal crises with sympathy and an attitude of 'of course you have to take off'.
Bad bosses I've had were people who were constantly reminding you that you were lucky to work for them; they pounced and punished mistakes, as if punishment were the only way workers could be motivated; and there was not only no acknowledgement that workers had personal lives, they were scolded for having them. And they did boneheaded things, like telling us we would get a small Christmas bonus...if we paid for the Christmas card they put it in.