The Most Effective Retention Strategy in The World is Meaningful Work
When I wrote about using hockey as a retention strategy, I wasn’t really writing about hockey, per se. I was writing about meaning.
It’s a strange thing, how we think about business and work being separate from life. Or how we think that executives and business leaders are one-dimensional and all about profit.
I’m the president of a company and yep, I care — deeply — about making money. I also care about my employees and their families. I care about the state of our education system. I care about the communities I live and work in. I care about the Germany-Brazil World Cup game. All at the same time.
To wit: we were all at the office yesterday AND we live-streamed the game. In between cheering loudly — seven times!!! — we called clients, we interviewed candidates, we conducted reference-checks, cheques got cashed, and I may have worn a German jersey to work. I can neither confirm nor deny those rumours.
We did it all. We had a good time. Some of us worked a little later than usual to get everything done, but that was to be expected because we’d worked a little less during the game. It was a good day. We had fun, we did good work for our clients, we enjoyed each other (and the game) and we made some money.
My point is that we — all of us, employees and employers alike — aren’t just corporate automatons. We’re husbands, wives, daughters, cousins, friends, family, volunteers, athletes, wannabe athletes, fans. We are whole people.
And the companies that treat their people like whole people will succeed.
This isn’t airy-fairy idealistic mambo jumbo. This is fact. People need to feel like their making an impact, like their work has worth. They need to be happy and have friends at work. They need challenge. They need meaning.
They need good wages, too — of course — but when it comes to retention and tenure, after a certain pay threshold has been exceeded, meaning is what will reduce churn.
And it will make everyone happier and more fulfilled. Bosses and owners included.
One more thing: when I wrote my LinkedIn piece about hockey (and ferries and community centres) as a retention strategy, I had a particular company in mind: Tri-Star Industries.
Tri-Star Industries in tiny Yarmouth, Nova Scotia manufactures and customizes ambulances for global markets. They also own a Junior A Hockey team and have hosted Hockey Canada’s World Jr A Challenge two years in a row. When the local bowling alley was about to close, Tri-Star stepped in and bought it and renovated it. It’s now a community hot spot, especially for seniors and youth. Tri-Star also purchased a bus for the hockey team that they make available to community. (They charter it, too, to cover overhead.) One of the owners of Tri-Star, Keith Condon, was the co-chairman of a group that worked for two years to bring a ferry service back to Yarmouth.
Tri-Star doesn’t have to do any of those things. But I’m willing to bet it makes every day even more worthwhile, for both the executives and the employees. I’m willing to bet it gives everyone something extra to be proud of. I’m willing to bet there are events and community fund-raisers in the workplace and lots of celebration when their prized hockey team wins. I’m willing to be everyone is happy they’ve got somewhere to go on Friday nights with their friends and family to knock down some pins.
I’m willing to be that loving their job and their town makes people stay in both. And that’s good for Tri-Star’s morale AND their bottom-line, too.