Not long ago, a good salary and a basic benefits package were enough to entice skilled job applicants to join a practice, and once on board, to remain there. However, a strong economy and record low unemployment have given applicants the upper hand in terms of which jobs they accept and how long they stay.
Employee loyalty, some claim, has become an oxymoron. In addition, “job-hopping” is common among younger employees. The average American worker holds 9.2 jobs from age l8 to 34, according to the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you’re experiencing a shortage of skilled job applicants and/or high employee turnover, consider adding some of the following family-friendly perks to your basic benefits package:
- flextime (flexible work hours);
- compressed work week (work longer days in exchange for fewer days in the office);
- job sharing (divide one full-time job, for example, into two part-time jobs);
- telecommuting opportunities (work at home with computer, fax and modem);
- paid “personal days” to be used for any purpose;
- paid maternity/paternity leave;
- on-site child care;
- on-site fitness equipment;
- staff lounge (with microwave, refrigerator, etc.);
- private areas (other than bathrooms) where working moms can express breast milk or feed their babies when brought into the office during breaktime (studies cite a decreased rate of absenteeism when this is allowed).
Family-friendly perks such as those mentioned above, are more effective at retaining valuable employees than cash incentives, according to 352 human resource executives surveyed by the American Management Association.
Action steps: There are several ways to learn which family-friendly perks would most appeal to your employees. The most obvious is to ask them directly, but experience has shown that some employees are reluctant to tell you what they really want — sometimes out of embarrassment, and sometimes because they think it will jeopardize their job security.
An alternative is to conduct an “exit interview” with employees who leave the practice by their choice. They may be more open with you in identifying needs that can be addressed.
You may also choose to create a questionnaire that lists various options and instructs employees to rate anonymously, the relative importance of each perk. Be careful not to raise expectations you can’t fulfill.
Family-friendly perks can ease the conflicts many employees have between home and work; reduce turnover; and enhance on-the-job performance.
They can also be highly appealing to prospective employees in a tight labor market.
Mr. Levoy, a management consultant based in Roslyn, N.Y., has conducted more than 2,500 seminars for health-care professionals. Those seminars have included programs for the American and Canadian chiropractic associations and numerous state and provincial chiropractic associations.