After the Election: The American Workforce – Are we Still a Team?

As the American President-elect was announced in the early morning hours, many predictions followed. Few are exploring the impact on the workplace. The line between work and life, blurring for the past 20 years, allow for the strong emotions we feel at home to impact who we are at work. Like many workplaces around the world, we have a diverse workforce at Retensa, including American and International colleagues who exist across the political spectrum. Our assumptions about the next four years generates excitement, sadness, or even anger.

We discovered early on in our discussions that no matter what, we are still a team.

How we choose to move forward in turbulence and uncertainty can help strengthen or weaken the meaningful work we do. Each of our expectations, values, and intentions for this company’s culture are as true today as one week ago. We want to share with you how we focus on strengthening our team, which you can consider bringing to your workplace:

    1. Leadership: Build Unity through Inclusion

In any crises, we look to our leaders for guidance. Ensure that leadership communicates the importance of the team regardless of how someone voted. Highlight the impact, if any, from the election to your company or to your clients. Focus your organization on working together. Let everyone know what resources they have available, such as an anonymous box for feedback, counseling resources, or open door policies. The most dangerous thing for any leader to do when your workforce is divided is to choose a side. Dismissing a group is nearly the surest way to enrage them.

    1. Identify the Noise: Pulse Your Employees

The quickest way to understand what is going on in your organization right now is to ask for feedback. We use the TalentPulse platform to instantly survey anyone (including remote employees) at any time. A short 5 or 6 question survey can be sent when a big event occurs (e.g. change in location, leadership, or resources) to gauge how best to manage the issues before they hit the workplace. In this case, we crafted questions that unpack what impact this has on teams, individual’s lives, and relationships. Including both multiple-choice and open-ended questions help understand how the organization can provide support, and shows employees that listening matters.

    1. Conflict Management: Leverage your Tools

We do our best to leverage the tools and practices we provide to our clients. If your employees have already had training on how to manage stress, or conflict, consider providing a refresher Conflict Management course and highlight how they can manage difficult conversations (internal and external). To make sure our team is most prepared to manage their lives in and out of the office, we also reviewed tools from our Communication course. Listening with intention brings the empathy that rebuilds connections.

    1. Create Opportunities to Unite

People disagreed, and it may have pushed them apart. Now create opportunities for your organization to come together. Over the next few weeks, we have scheduled more departmental breakfasts, after-work events, team games, and food tastings for all of our team members. We recommend keeping topics light and fun while supporting your culture. If you are looking to improve employee morale, create “play” time that supports the values you want to see in the workplace.

Very few company’s staff all voted for one candidate. If your employees are affected, the organization is affected. It would be a mistake for leadership to pretend that everything is the same as it was before. Build unity through messaging, pulse your employees to uncover the truth about where people are right now, leverage communication tools, and create opportunities to be a team together.

Feel free to reach out if you want more information on how to roll out these services at your organization. And for Retensa’s team members, partners, and clients – we are here to support you to keep engaging and inspiring your workforce at every opportunity.


Posted: 11/9/2017

The Real Cost of a Poor Hire

Think about the last few hires that didn’t work out.  On paper, applicants may possess the education, work experience and skills for the job, but polished resumes may not reveal hidden liabilities.  The real cost of a poor hire is often lost production time, money, and a decrease in employee morale – all costly mistakes for any employer.

“Your profits are walking out the door — literally. Every time you lose an employee, all the money you have invested in that employee walks out the door at the same time.” – Richard Galbreath, SHRM White Paper, 2002

Hiring an employee who performs poorly costs your company more than you may think.

The cost of hiring a new employee can be significant.  The Telecom Training Group reported that within the first six months of employment, a company will spend $5,000 to $50,000 on every new employee.  These figures add up quickly if many of your new employees coming on board don’t work out. A poor hiring decision leading to a replacement hiring costs approximately $14,000 for an employee with a high school diploma and $66,000 for an employee with a college degree.[1]

Key cost factors:

  • Cost to advertise
  • Cost of recruiting
  • Salary or unrecoverable draw
  • Insurance and benefits
  • Employer tax contribution
  • Cost of training programs

And, if the wrong people are hired, what is the cost of:

  • Lost sales?
  • Missed opportunities?
  • Dissatisfied customers?
  • Low employee morale
  • Re-starting the hiring process?

Harvard Business School has identified that the cost of poor selection for a sales representative is three times the representative’s annualized compensation, including expenses, training, benefits, wages and commissions/bonus.  Therefore, a $60,000 per year salaried/commissioned sales rep hiring mistake actually costs the company more than $180,000.  How many products or services does your company have to sell to make that $180,000?

The Importance of Job Analysis
One key reason for a poor hiring decision is an outdated job description.  Many job descriptions are not revised to reflect the new competencies and skills necessary to perform the work.  It is near impossible for interviewers to properly evaluate candidates without accurate criteria.  Careful, regular job analysis ensures that interviewers are assessing applicants based on the core competencies, knowledge, skills and abilities deemed absolutely necessary for the job.

Hiring solely on skills is not a wise move either.  Employers should consider how a prospective employee will fit in the organization, in addition to whether or not the person can perform the job duties.  Have you ever hired someone with outstanding prior performance, only to see him struggle at your company because his peers didn’t “click” with him?

Employees currently performing a job are the best people to consult when conducting job analysis.  They know what their everyday functions are and what it takes to achieve high performance.  Even better, have the current employees interview the new hires.  Few people will be more selective or discerning than the employee who has to directly rely on that new hire.  Current employees can also assess whether a candidate will fit into the culture of the workplace.  If you do use exiting staff to interview, make sure they know what competencies to look for, what questions they should ask and, of course, what questions are prohibited.  These processes take some time to correctly complete but in the end, you’ll be less likely to make a hiring mistake – and have to spend more time starting the whole recruiting process over again.

Employer Liability
Without a proper selection and screening process in place, employers and business owners are also faced with the risk of hiring a person who may pose a legitimate threat or risk to the safety and security of the company.  In one case, a church was sued on the premise of negligent hiring when the supervisor of a day care assaulted a child at the day care.  The court found the church liable because they had failed to uncover supervisor’s prior criminal conviction for the assault of a young girl and had hired him for a job involving contact with children.

Negligent hiring is a term used by the courts when an employer hires an individual without conducting a proper investigation of that person’s history, and later it’s discovered that the employee’s background contains something that would indicate a propensity for misconduct on the job.

Make Your Selections Carefully
Hiring qualified employees requires a major investment of both time and corporate resources. Many employers are starting to consistently use pre-employment background checks in order to minimize the risk of negligent hiring claims, to maintain a safe and secure workplace, and to protect company assets against the cost of a poor hire.  What are your company’s hiring and screening policies?  Are they designed to select the top performing candidate?

[1] Workplace Resource Learning Center

Attracting and Retaining Human Capital: Developing Strong Leaders

Trust, between leaders and employees, is an often overlooked element of retention strategies. With proper attention paid to attracting and retaining human capital, organizations can build strong leadership teams that improve talent management.

“Participative decision making may send a message that the leader enacting the program has confidence in, and concern and respect for, the subordinate; it may also affect followers’ overall perceptions about the character of the leader.” – Kurt Dirks & Donald Ferrin, Journal of Applied Psychology, August Vol. 87 No. 4

The Origin of Anti-Leadership Behaviors

Employees’ trust in leadership is predicated on their faith that leaders will exhibit honesty and meet their expectations. If there is disconnect or friction between a leader and his direct report, that tension can lead to a host of negative consequences. That particular relationship can lead an employee to produce poor work outcomes, decrease motivation, decrease loyalty toward the organization, and a high likelihood that the employee will leave. A distressed employee can also impact his colleagues’ work by failing to meet deadlines or by executing tasks poorly. Therefore, organizations need to take a comprehensive approach when developing leaders so that an unconstructive relationship that develops between a leader and an employee, the antagonism does not have a domino effect on the entire organization. By viewing those fractious relationships as minor problems, executives may unwittingly create workplace that allows anti-leadership behaviors to emerge.

In their research article, “Trust in leadership: Meta-analytic findings and implications for research and practice,” the authors Kurt Dirks and Donald Ferrin found that trust in leadership has a strong relationship to work attitudes, organizational citizenship behaviors, and job performance. The trust that employees have in leaders colors how they interpret their leaders’ actions and motives for those actions. Leaders who are supportive of some employees, but display little interest in others, signal to the latter that the organization does not appreciate their efforts. Those employees may lose trust in the leader as well as the organization, and likely show signs of turnover intentions.

Invest in Attracting and Retaining Talent

Leaders can build strong relationships with followers by instituting a corporate culture that rewards clearly and equitably. For example, including employees in the decision-making process or using their input when creating recognition programs or project assignments. Leaders who put into effect supportive practices will have a positive influence on their employees’ behavior toward the organization. Behaving consistently and with integrity is essential for leaders to maintain productive relationships with employees. This in turn will keep employees from expending energy on trying to infer the leader’s opinion of their work, rather than investing their efforts on their performance.

To hear more about designing talent management programs at your company, email


Did you like this post? We have many more that may interest you. Let’s keep in touch.

Your Companies Have Merged. Which Executives Will Stay?

“It appears that their [long-tenured executives] idiosyncratic knowledge of what the organization can do and their ability to implement it outweighs the likelihood that they will be rigid when faced with uncertainty.” – Donald D. Bergh, Journal of Management Vol. 27 No. 5, November 2001

The success of Mergers & Acquisition is dependent upon retaining the right executives.

The synergy of merged companies is dependent upon the human capital value as well as the monetary value of the deal. A mass exodus of experienced, revenue-generators leaves the company vulnerable to competitors poaching these executives and their clients. Donald Bergh’s research in the Journal of Management indicates that the long-term success of a merger largely depends on the retention of the right executives. The strategic alliance created by the merger must include retention plans for valued employees that are aligned with the unified company’s goals. The merged companies must work to develop a new organizational culture. Losing executives that have long tenures in the acquired organization can be detrimental to the outcome of the merger. These executives have amassed large breadths of knowledge of effective processes used . Executives with less familiarity of either of the merged companies do not have the same grasp of the company’s capability to respond to change. The executive level focus is often overlooked because the drivers for a new corporate culture are based upon the collaboration and integration of both human resource structures, but if HR is colliding, they aren’t driving.

Smoothing the transition.

First, the buy-in of skilled executives into the merger process will ease the transition of their subordinates into the new organization because they can minimize the effects of the upheaval. Creating teams to integrate the companies’ services and practices is essential for the transition process. Communicating with employees about the process and shifts in services will alleviate job security issues and prevent the decrease in job engagement. Including a variety of management in this integration will be helpful in retaining your most talented employees because they are most apt to identifying their strengths as opposed to those from the other organization. Managers’ can use this information to help executives determine where employees will be most effective in the new company. Encouraging top executives to participate in the integration of the companies will bolster the morale from the top-down by integrating the retention of key employees into the merger. Key employees can bring loyal customers into the transition process as well.