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How to keep them once you've got them: at Plante & Moran, the process is called 're-recruiting'.

Picture your most valued staff member--that loyal pinnacle of client service, technical knowledge, team spirit and productivity. Now picture that person expressing the unthinkable: She's leaving your company for another position. What do you do? Do you offer her more money? A promotion? Adjust her schedule or discuss her unlimited future potential with the organization? Do you point out just how valuable she is and how much you appreciate her efforts? These words might have been effective last week or last month, but odds are it's too late now. You've lost her.

The odds are against employers who shortchange staff retention: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States will have 10 million more jobs than people by 2010. In addition, says The Conference Board, less than half of all Americans are satisfied with their jobs. So what can you do? How do you keep them once you've hired them?

We asked ourselves those very questions. To answer them, we began to focus on "re-recruiting," an ongoing program based on staff recognition and appreciation to maximize staff retention. And it's paid off: within the last decade, our annual turnover rate has been approximately half that of the industry average--and we've made Fortune's list of the 100 Best Companies To Work For in America" for the past seven consecutive years, a designation determined largely by confidential staff surveys.

Our re-recruiting initiative began nearly 20 years ago. It's been a gradual process that has slowly become embedded in our culture. Re-recruiting must be integrated into company culture and reinforced through principles, policies and individual actions. For us, this has included:

* Developing a buddy system and team system. Immediately upon arriving at P & M, each new staff member is assigned a "buddy" and a team partner, which helps build staff loyalty from day one. The buddy typically has three to five years of experience and is always available to answer questions or serve as a sounding board for ideas or offer advice. The team partner serves as mentor. They're responsible for career coaching and planning and performance evaluations.

* An open-door policy. Our open-door policy encourages staff to talk with team partners, buddies and other leaders about questions, problems or career development at any time.

* Performance management system. Ensuring that reward systems (compensation and promotions, for example) support the business objectives of the organization is a key component in aligning behaviors with desired outcomes.

* Regularly scheduled meetings. Team leaders initiate informal meetings regularly with staff members to re-recruit them. We encourage these supervisors to ask staff questions such as, "Do you feel challenged?" "Are you pleased with the direction of your career?" and "How can we help you be successful?" The goal is for staffers to be excited about their jobs and feel appreciated and valued, even more so than they felt when they came to our firm.

It's true that developing a company culture that puts a premium on re-recruiting is an enormous undertaking. However, we've found that investing in re-recruiting yields higher staff morale, lower turnover and better teamwork. This, in turn, yields happier clients and a better bottom line, allowing you to continue to invest in re-recruiting. It's an investment that, frankly, we couldn't afford not to make.

RELATED ARTICLE: Re-recruiting: Getting started

For companies considering a re-recruiting initiative, here are a few tips to get started:

* Develop a mentoring program. Start with a buddy system. It's a win-win situation, as it helps the new staff member acclimate to the organization and contributes to the current staffer's development by expanding his or her confidence and skills in communication, relationship building and leadership.

* Make an art of recognition. Make praise an ongoing practice. When staff members succeed admirably, compliment them. These personal touches are invaluable, as no one can be appreciated too much.

* Communicate openly, candidly and often. Although senior management can clearly see the future of the company, the rest of the staff may be puzzled and confused. It's crucial that senior management communicates the direction of the company to all staff members and ensure they understand how they can effectively contribute as individuals. Leadership and re-recruiting must start at the top.

By Bill Bufe

Partner and Head of Human Resources

Plante & Moran PLLC


Southfield-based Plante & Moran PLLC is a Bronze-level member of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Detroit Regional Chamber
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Title Annotation:Report From the Front Lines
Author:Bufe, Bill
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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