Outside consultant: How to keep new employees on task after a couple of years

  • Updated: November 30, 2008 - 10:48 PM

Q Our company likes to recruit fresh college graduates so we can train them appropriately to our standards before they pick up bad habits elsewhere. How can I keep fresh graduates interested, focused and committed after a couple of years of employment?

RANDY ZARECKI, FITNESS TOGETHER

A The time to plan for interested, focused and committed employees who stay with the company is before hiring. When you recruit, look for people whose abilities fit the tasks, but also whose motivations, needs and values match the rewards you provide. Consider the rewards intrinsic to the work they will be doing -- both immediately and after likely promotions.

Another step is to perform an audit of the quality of your jobs and career paths. Research shows that most employees value autonomy, feedback and variety in their work tasks, as well as the opportunity to see the difference their work is making.

Employees want to be part of a healthy organization with good management, ethical executives and competent, enjoyable co-workers. Employees need to feel fairly paid and have some level of ownership in the company's well-being.

If your jobs have these characteristics, they are high-quality jobs, and will tend to be more motivating. In addition, however, most employees want to learn, grow, be challenged and be promoted to new levels of responsibility. Today, employees need to keep learning new skills to maintain their value in the job market.

You don't say what type of jobs you're hiring college graduates for, but people go to college for some combination of two primary reasons: to learn and grow, and to increase their earning and career potentials. If you are not providing opportunities and challenges that fit those needs, it may be time to rethink your preference for this type of employee.

TERESA J. ROTHAUSEN-VANGE, PROFESSOR OF MANAGEMENT, UNIVERSITY OF ST. THOMAS OPUS COLLEGE OF BUSINESS

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