Anna Frazzetto's Blog

Digital Innovations and Technology Solutions

Hiring, Training, Motivating and Retaining

Insights and Findings from the Recent CIO Forum and Executive IT Summit in Hartford, CT

As far as I'm concerned, the buck stops here. Hiring, training, motivating and retaining talent is the ticket to success. Of course there are many factors that play into the success of a business -- but really it boils down to hiring top talent and keeping them. Turnover does nothing for a company's bottom-line, so securing a solid team, and then motivating them to excel, is where it's at.

When you consider that employee turnover can cost three-to-five times a C-Level upper management position's annual wages and benefits, it clearly pays to retain. Consider this example from the Rainmaker Group: if your firm has a turnover rate of 25 percent (about the national average) and employs 40 employees each earning $25,000 annually, your costs for turning over 10 of these employees over the course of a year will be at least $125,000. And, according to those senior IT executives who participated in the Harvey Nash 2007/2008 CIO Survey, 54 percent would entertain switching jobs if an opportunity presented itself, 18 percent keep an eye on the market and selectively apply for jobs, and 10 percent are actively looking. These numbers make hiring, training, motivating and retaining -- even at the utmost senior level -- crucial.

Last week I spent time with CIOs in Hartford, Connecticut, as a panelist at the CIO Forum and Executive IT Summit, talking about these topics. Here are some of the highlights from our conversations:

Hiring Process
- By far, team referrals take the cake. Hiring based on referrals is "worth its weight in gold." And it makes sense. If you've got successful staff, chances are they spend time with others like themselves. Why not maximize this resource of existing talent and establish a referral program that will benefit both you and your employees? And, don't just launch a referral program. Nurture it. Remind people about it. Give accolades to those who take advantage of it. It's not a one-time deal. Make it part of your company's culture.

- Cultural fit -- this rises to the top for many as being very important. As one attendee put it, "you can't teach how to play with others." In other words, if a candidate doesn't fit the personality of your company -- it's likely that there will be problems down the road.

- Internship programs attract Gen Y. Another great idea shared is to create an internship and connect with area colleges and universities. This is a natural way to expose your company to future prospects, an opportunity to assess the culture fit, work habits and skills of these prospective employees. Internships also allow students to learn firsthand whether or not their needs and interests will be met at your organization. The future workforce is very in-tune with choosing companies that match their personality.

Training and Development
- Taking advantage of online training has proven to be an effective way to keep employees fresh in new technologies and systems. Typically companies realize less costs associated with online training programs as they do not require the employee to take too much time away from their job, and it can be conducted in-house -- saving on travel expenses and the like.

- Group training is one way to mix work with pleasure. Building camaraderie with staff while fine-tuning skills or specialty areas not only helps shape your firm, but it leaves employees with the image that your firm is professionals and focused. A recent survey of U.S. employers found that 90 percent of those who participated believed use of in-house training programs is the most successful way to retain employees.

Motivating and Retaining
- Succession planning is critical, especially when talent is tight. In the past, succession planning only pertained to key leadership roles. Today it applies across the organization as a way to ensure highly qualified people across the board. It's also a perk to the employees as they feel that the company values them enough to spend time cultivating their talents.

- Keep your team motivated by praising accomplishments, setting up reward systems, clearly communicating goals and achievement of goals -- little steps can go a long way to keep staff motivated.

Do you have any unique ideas for hiring, training, motivating or retaining employees? If so, we'd love for you to share.