Engagement Practice _ 48: Tailor the ‘‘Culture of Giving’’ to the Needs of Key Talent

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Selecting the kinds of benefits and work-life services to offer workers is not

simply a matter of looking at benefit surveys and matching what other

employers provide. The fact is that you may not be able to afford the kinds

of benefits that other companies in your community provide, and yet you

must still compete with them for the available talent. This means you must

figure out a way to compete for talent that is more cost-effective, so instead

of offering onsite child care, you might choose to focus on recruiting,

selecting, and training managers so they will manage people with respect

and caring.

The other key to selecting the right benefits and services is matching

them to the needs of your applicant pool and your current employees.

Consider the case of Financial Associates, a 25-year-old insurance brokerage

firm that employs twenty-five people. The owner, Charles Stumpf, is

a veteran in the insurance business, and understands how competitive it

can be. That is why he resolved to treat employees in such a way that they

would not want to leave. ‘‘I made the conscious decision,’’ he said, ‘‘to

treat the people around me as family, not employees.’’ So he put several

practices into place that he thought would accomplish that end, including

keeping records of employees’ birthdays and hiring anniversaries and sending

them cards on those special occasions, providing treats in the company

kitchen, and putting signs on staff office doors in recognition of their accomplishments.

Stumpf also thought about the fact that several of the women who

work at Financial Associates have school-age children and some of them

would prefer to work part-time. So, he tailored a nontraditional work

schedule to accommodate their needs. Working mothers are allowed to

arrive a little later in the morning so they can be home when their children

leave for school. Others come in earlier in the morning so they can get

home and be with their children at the end of the school day. Stumpf also

worked it out so employees wanting part-time work could share the same

jobs. He points out that one employee who works three days a week is one

of his most productive workers.

When Stumpf made up his mind to move to a new location, he asked

his employees what was most important to them in an office location.

Their answer was, access to a major interstate highway and windows that

opened. He asked them what features they wanted in a break room, and

throughout the office, and he put them in place. The new office had a

kitchen, and access to a patio with picnic table, grill, and a telephone jack.

Stumpf also recalled that, early in his own career working for a trucking

company, he always worried about whether he would have enough money

to take along on a trip, so he gives employees a cash bonus before they go

on vacations. He also gives them extra days off around the holidays.

As you might imagine, employee turnover is not an issue at Financial

Associates. Stumpf knows he has saved time and money by maintaining a

stable workforce. ‘‘When you have to hire and retrain people, you know

they won’t know their jobs for a year, and that’s time lost,’’ he said. ‘‘By

treating your people so they want to stay, you don’t have to go through

that cycle.’’28