Getting Creative to Retain Staff During Life Changes

Michelle Branigan

Feb 14, 2019

By Michelle Branigan

The war for talent is fierce across all sectors of our economy, and it’s no secret that things are heating up as the next big wave in technology — AI — is displacing jobs and creating new ones.

Some of the largest and most prestigious employers, (particularly in the technology space) are getting creative when looking for ways to attract and retain top talent — and it’s not all about salary. On-site bars, free lunches, entertainment, housecleaning services, and the infamous Google slide are just some of the perks that tech giants offer to stand out from the rest. So how do you compete if you’re a small start-up with no pool table or classy cocktail lounge? You don’t. You’ve got something better. Something money can’t buy.

Compassion. Empathy. Respect.

Monumental or traumatic life events affect everyone — top performer or not. Instead of dwelling on the budget breaking perks you can’t afford, focus on creating a workplace culture that promotes employees’ well-being and diminishes the strict line between life and work. We don’t leave work at work and we don’t leave home at home. Employers who foster a sense of community at work and support staff during major life events — births, deaths, illnesses (mental or physical) — are more likely to develop loyal and productive employees. There will always be a cooler office out there.

So during a life event, whether it’s a new baby or an adoption, or a death in the family, there are a few cost-effective things employers can do to help alleviate stress at home during tumultuous times.

    1. Hire a cleaning service for your staff for a few weeks while they go through the big change like Mopify. Cleaning at home takes a lot of time and having someone to do it for you while you’re dealing with big psychological changes really takes a load off, and it doesn’t cost much.

    2. Have prepared foods delivered from a healthy local establishment like Red Apron. Shopping for food and preparing meals takes time. Why not pay for a week of nutritious food delivery? It’s a big time saver and again, a mental break from thinking about feeding hungry people.

    3. Is it winter? Consider a snow removal service if your staff has a driveway or walkway that needs to be cleared. Is it summer? Consider a lawn care service for a couple of weeks.

    4. Does your employee have children? Consider offering to comp their chosen childcare provider or having a background checked nanny available to them from a nanny service like CanadianNanny.ca.

    5. Does your staff member need to travel to help a loved one? Consider opening a business account with Uber or Lyft to offset travel costs wherever they are going. Perhaps even AirBnB or maybe you have a hotel rate with a given hotels group you could offer them. An airline voucher can go a long way too.

Set a budget for life events and select services aligned to the needs of your people in the moment they need them most. Don’t just rely on your employee assistance program.

By supporting staff in their hours of greatest need in areas outside of work we demonstrate that we care. The old axiom that actions speak louder than words is never truer. Don’t send sympathies or cards or flowers. Send a service that actually helps. Build a culture that cares.

What have you done to truly help someone as they deal with their own major life event?

Michelle Branigan is CEO, Electricity Human Resources Canada.

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