Alberta Newspaper Group

Yuma County

RECRUITING AND RETAINING exceptional employees is a challenge every organization faces, whether large or small, public or private, rural or metro. Particularly now in the environment of the “Great Resignation,” how do you find the best people for your team … and keep them once they are there? Very often, our first instinct is to focus on pay. And, while compensation is certainly a factor (you do need to be competitive) it isn’t the only thing that is important. A better approach is to attract the right people by differentiating your organizational culture. What is it you do? Why do you do what you do? Who do you serve? How do you make their lives better? How do you make your employees’ lives better? At Yuma County, an organization of nearly 1,400 people, the executive leadership team recently spent 12 months working on a Core Culture Initiative to intentionally shape Yuma County’s organizational culture and support the County’s strategic plan. This initiative led to uncovering these critical elements: • Our Why: Why do people work for Yuma County? • Our Point of View: How do we accomplish our Why? • Our Non-Negotiable Values: What do we stand for? The answers to those questions have helped to underscore that every employee has a role in making Yuma County a great place to work, and that our employees make a real and positive difference in our community. I can’t help but think that those are some very attractive traits to a potential employee. The County is now beginning the process of including these core elements in our recruitment efforts. By providing more than just a list of job duties and an hourly wage for an open position, we can give potential employees a sense of our mission and culture to help attract the right people and ensure a good fit. There’s another aspect of organizational culture that helps not only in the recruitment of excellent employees, but also in retaining them: providing opportunities for professional development. Richard Branson says, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” Providing training opportunities increases productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction – that’s great! But what if they use those skills to find another job somewhere else? I’ll tell you this, if you don’t offer your employees training opportunities, you’re going to lose them anyway – and if you don’t lose them, you’re stuck with a staff not working at its full potential. Untrained employees are usually less motivated and feel less appreciated than those who have been given professional development opportunities. Sure, keeping staff engaged through professional development carries a cost, but so does having a team that doesn’t possess appropriate skills, feels undervalued, and lacks motivation. Just think about lost production. Moreover, from a risk management perspective, mistakes and errors made by untrained employees can result in lawsuits, fines, injuries, and more. That’s not good any way you slice it. Looking further at costs, organizations that choose not to invest in professional development will then have to replace the unmotivated, underperforming employees they lose – and that comes with a price tag. The process of hiring someone new can often cost 20% to 30% of the job’s salary, not to mention the hours of lost productivity as a new person gets up to speed. Today’s managers are busier than ever. Still, if your organization is going to be a top performer, giving priority to recruitment and retention is a must. I know, easier said than done with everything going on, but – cliché alert – people are the heartbeat of your organization. You simply can’t reach your goals and strategic objectives without having “the right people on the bus,” as Good to Great author Jim Collins famously says. There’s no easy, silver-bullet solution to the challenge of finding and keeping excellent employees. Yet by focusing on competitive compensation, differentiating your organization by identifying its core values, and investing in professional development, you’ll be incorporating solid strategies for success.