“You still work there?” that was the next sentence on the email after “Hi, how have you been?” This was a friend I had not heard from for many years. Well, I actually continued to work in that company for another 3 years after that email. In total I worked there for 9 good years! Anyhow the time came finally for me to move on; I resigned and served my stipulated 3 months notice. Within these last
three months I wrote a detailed handing over report and participated in recruiting my replacement.
Last week I went to meet a client who was lamenting about high staff turnover. Unfortunately he is not alone many an SME experience the same problem. In a previous article, I listed the 10 ‘main problems SMEs typically face’. The fifth in the list was Lack of Competent People and Human Resource Management Systems. A number of business owners mentioned that this ranks in the top 3 if the challenges were to be ranked.
So how did I manage to work with the same firm for 9 years? For starters, I felt I was in sync with the culture and the values of this company at the time. Some of the things they did included:
1) Proper recruitment process. I responded to a newspaper advert and was interviewed along with others. It was not an easy interview by any standard and I felt so privileged to have got the job. This compelled me to put my best foot forward. With a transparent recruitment system, one works knowing that they are all there on merit and not on a know-who basis. This ensures competent staff are recruited.
2) Orientation. The Managing consultant took me through the history of the company, from its humble beginnings to where it was and where it was planning to be in the foreseeable future. The Vision and mission was communicated and the values explained. I had a session with each member of staff each of them explaining to me what their role was in the organization and welcoming me on board. Then there was the lunch out with all staff just to say welcome! Wow…I really felt welcomed and looked forward to being part of the great team.
3) Contract and Job description. I was given a contract and asked to seek clarification of any clause that was unclear. All remuneration details were clearly outlined, my obligations and my employers were clearly stated including working hours, leave options, performance and salary reviews.
4) Staff (Human resource) manual. This accompanied my contract was given time to read during the orientation week. This was a very good ‘bible’ for all staff to refer to any issues relating performance appraisal, training, rewards, promotion, leave, conflict resolution and disciplinary procedures as well. It basically stated everything you would need to know about your work and work environment
5) Staff development. All Staff were encouraged to pursue professional development and they would be sponsored for it. They covered up to 75% of my tution and exam fees for ACCA. After completing my ACCA and attaining membership I still continued working there and they still paid for my annual membership fees and continuous professional development
6) Career advancement opportunities. For the 9 years I worked there, I held 4 different positions. With different qualifications I acquired and competencies learned, I had an opportunity of advancement and promotion. This offered the much needed challenge and diversity in roles.
7) Staff retreats (get-a-ways). We often had staff retreats where we would review performance for the year and planned for the subsequent year. This kept staff feeling part and parcel of the planning process which made implementation of the laid out plans easier because there was ownership.
8) Staff performance appraisals. This was a very good feedback mechanism for both the employer and employee. Any areas of improvements identified would be discussed. These sessions informed the staff development plans for the subsequent year. Which meant that we were continuously growing and developing new skills and competencies
9) Staff meetings. We had staff meetings twice a week. These frequent forums kept all of us in touch with each other both at work and personal levels. We would share our challenges and our victories as well. We would pray together and laugh together. We would also support each other in times of sickness or bereavement. We were one big family, more than just a team of colleagues
10) Long term service awards. One qualified for an award every 5 years completed. The award was both a certificate and monetary. The longer you serviced the bigger the award. E.g. 5years=½ a month’s gross salary; 10 years=1 month’s gross salary; 15 years= 1½month’s gross salary
11) Leave days. We had various leave options, annual leave, study leave, sick leave, compassionate leave, paternity and maternity leave. The last two were as stipulated by the employment act 5 days and 60 days respectively
12) Statutory Compliance. The employer paid Workman’s compensation as required by the employment act in additional to medical cover. NSSF (National Social Security Fund) was not only deducted but remitted as well according to NSSF Act. In Uganda, NSSF is compulsory if you have more that 5 employees but voluntary if you have less than 5. The employer contributes 10% of the staff gross salary and deducts 5% from the staff gross, therefore a total of 15% of staff gross salary is remitted to the pension fund by the 15th of every month.
13) Annual Salary Reviews. The cost of living changes every year due to inflation and many other economic factors. They would consider a cost of living adjustment every year as much as possible. There were times that the adjustments were very little but they still made a difference. There was a year that was particularly tough and the company had to let all staff appreciate why it was not possible to get a raise. That conversation was very important and just sent the message that the employer was concerned and not ignorant
14) Staff bonuses. This was provided for in the contract, stipulated in the HR manual and also done in practice. Staff were entitled to annual bonuses if the company made profits. Since % of the profits made was distributed to staff, it was in the staff interest to work as hard as possible to generate as much profit as possible! I can't forget the year when the bonuses we almost equal to a months' salary! Oh my...we worked even harder looking forward for another great year and the circle continued......
Well I can go on and on…….because there are many more tips on how to motivate your employees but the above are examples of some of the things that this esteemed company did. We may not copy and paste all these in our businesses but there are so many leaves to borrow! Which ones have worked for you?