With so much focus on sales during the recent recession, we’ve all gotten really bad at antagonizing employees enough to make them quit.

Nope, no matter what we tried – defunding the snack room, curtailing healthcare benefits, petulance,  paternalism – nothing seemed to drive them away.  The economy was so bad, employee loyalty knew no bounds.

But soon - if you listen to certain econometric forecasts - the balance will tip the other way, and your staffing superstar will have every competitor angling to snatch her away.   But don’t assume this is a done deal.  If you want to lose your star you still need to follow carefully in the footsteps of staffing companies that have gone down the tubes.

imageSo how to go about it?  Let me explain with the timeless story of my Dad and the early 1960s.  Think Kennedy administration.  And if you’re not old enough to situate that chronologically, this was before America knew who the Beatles were.   Yes, that far back.

Here’s his story.

The company [Design Service, a New York based company that placed engineers] was doing about $2.5 million in sales when I joined [in the early 1960s]. Mr. Signorelli was handicapped as a result of having suffered Polio as a child. He came to work about an hour before closing and I would brief him on what I had accomplished that day. He often would request that I join him for dinner at his favorite Italian restaurants. This meant I arrived home quite late, since commuting late in the evening from New York to New Jersey resulted in long waits for the trains.

I soon started to commute by auto so that I could join our family before the children went to bed. In the four years that I worked for the company, I built the business to the $14 million sales level with a great increase in profit. Mr. Signorelli never gave me a raise.image

I noticed an ad in The Wall Street Journal for a Director of Technical Service with Manpower Temporary Service. The requirements spelled out in the ad gave me the assurance that if I applied I would be hired. I then approached Mr. Signorelli for a raise in salary and he turned me down. I was hired by Manpower and I gave notice that I was leaving.

During my tenure, Mr. Signorelli would be advised when I was letting an employee go or had been notified that an employee was leaving for another job. He always advised me to immediately have the employee leave but to pay them for whatever time they gave of notice. I assumed that he would do the same to me, so I gave him a one-month notice that I was leaving. He first offered me a raise, but I told him I had already committed to my new company.

He then let me know that I would have to continue working that final month. My hope of a month’s vacation with pay vanished.  After I left, I learned sales had dropped to $8 million. Signorelli sold the company to Victor Calculating Co., who finally closed it down because of losses.

Tags: Advice, Employee Retention