All general managers are well aware that payroll costs and benefits are the top operating expense at any resort or club â€“ and that it only stands to stay that way, largely because of how the cost of medical insurance premiums continues to skyrocket.
While there’s probably little we can do to control benefit costs-short of cutting back on program features, which no one wants to do-there are some opportunities for creative cost management on the payroll side. Â While it may seem, especially in a turnover-prone business like ours, that we’re hiring new staff almost by the day, the fact is that the median number of years that wage and salary workers have been with their current employer has pretty much remained unchanged (at four years) during this decade, according to Department of Labor statistics.
The main reason for this, I think, is that we as managers are getting better at paying attention to the non-pay aspects of employee compensation and benefits. Â Other surveys that I have studied over the years clearly show that employee retention is now not as reliant on pay as it is on a list of other factors that’s grown to include:
- flexible work schedules;
- more paid time off;
- options to work from home;
- continuing education opportunities;
- personal praise from the “boss”;
- fair treatment;
- the ability to work independently, while still working interdependently with the team;
- having the proper tools and equipment needed to do the job right;
- up-to-date technology;
- respect and the ability to give input into the organization;
- opportunities for advancement.
While pay and benefit levels are certainly critical to recruitment, in reality most employees stay at their jobs for more than a paycheck (remember that it’s a hassle for them to look for, and change, jobs, too, and that it still takes a lot to get most people motivated enough to do so).
With the ongoing change in age demographics within the workplace, we must study and learn the different attitudes and expectations of each age-based employee group, and treat them accordingly. Â We are all dealing with four employee groups in our operations: seniors, boomers, “Gen X,” and “Gen Y”-each with very different “hot buttons” for what makes them want to stay in a job and not look elsewhere for “something better.” Â We need to stay proactive in responding to the needs of each employee group-and much of this effort must continue to be directed to how we reward them, not only with salaries and benefits, but also the so-called “psychic rewards.”
Backing Out of the Boxes
Doing this calls for getting away from rigid job descriptions or “fitting bodies into [organizational chart] boxes.” Â More than ever, it’s important to shape jobs around the talents, skills and needs of each individual employee. Â This requires paying close attention to what each person can bring to, and wants to achieve from, their employment.
Yes, it takes time to develop a better understanding of each employee in this way-but making the effort to tailor jobs and programs around their individual needs can go a long way towards gaining, and keeping, their loyalties. Â And that will produce tangible payoffs for your operations, not only through the performance of a stronger, more experienced staff, but also by reducing the cost of turnover whenever a new employee has to be recruited and trained.
A big part of this is coming up with creative compensation solutions when good employees are affected by restructurings, or when it’s clear they’ve been over-promoted. Â I recently encountered a situation like this when we had an employee who had been promoted into a position that wasn’t working out, either for him or the club. Â He initiated the decision to go back to his old position, which was fine with us, because he was an outstanding employee who could still contribute to the operation. Â And we worked out a program to reinstate him to his former position in a way that would help to soften the financial impact on him.
Instead of immediately adjusting this employee’s pay back, we created a “declining pay rate” that would eventually get him to what his new (actually old) position paid. Â We accomplished this with pay adjustments over a period of a year, on a quarterly, declining scale, giving him the time needed to modify his personal finances accordingly.
At the end of the day, we were able to reinstate a high-caliber employee back to an important position in the club. Â Yes, this might have cost us a little more upfront in payroll-but factoring in what would have been involved with recruiting (and possibly relocating) and training someone new, it was still a sound decision financially.Â More importantly, we solidified the loyalty of a valued and experienced employee, while still making a staff move that would help us achieve the long-term goals and objectives of the club.
As this example shows, it takes more than a pay raise these days to keep a great staff in place. Â Building employee partnerships is all about creating a workplace that works for both the club and the employee. Â A well-thought-out compensation and benefits program, adjusted regularly using feedback from all employees, is the best way to give everyone the sense of purpose, and job assurance, that’s needed to keep them focused on a property’s mission and vision.
Article written by:Â Don E. Vance, CCM, CPC, Chief Operating Officer/General Manager, Hound Ears Club
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This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers â€” those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.
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