Concerned About Employee Retention? Make Your Accounting Staff Love Your Company

The long-running NBC TV series “The Office” poked fun at corporate America and ham-handed management. Employee loyalty was nil at Dunder Mifflin, the dysfunctional company that was the show’s setting, in large part because of the truly dunderheaded manager Michael Scott, played with aplomb by Steve Carrell.

It’s no surprise that the Dunder Mifflins of the world do a lousy job recruiting newcomers and keeping them on board. So with Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s a good time to talk about how your company can make people fall in love with where they work.

Here are five suggestions for increasing employee loyalty and employee retention, based on the results of a recent Accountemps survey of HR managers.

1. Love of learning. Want to make employees really, really happy — and build a smarter workforce as well? Subsidize their training and education. This was the most popular benefit in the Accountemps survey. Offering training shows your employees that you consider them valued contributors now and that you want them to grow with the company — a factor that is critical to employee retention. Besides formal education, subsidized training programs include attendance at seminars and industry events.

2. Love the hours. Make flextime and telecommuting the norm, rather than the exception. Drive anywhere at rush hour, and you’ll notice that most organizations are still wedded to regimented 9-to-5 work schedules. By encouraging flexible schedules, you’ll eliminate a lot of griping and stretch your company’s hours of operation. What’s more, telecommuting programs have significantly reduced the real-estate footprint of many companies. That translates to greater employee loyalty and employee retention, as well as lower operating costs.

3. Love thy mentor. Thirty-three percent of HR managers in the Accountemps survey reported offering formal or informal mentoring programs. This is an important (and often overlooked) way to make an employee feel valued. In addition, mentoring programs train employees in skills that are critical to a company’s operations and help retain valuable institutional knowledge.

4. Love the lifestyle. Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch? Twenty-four percent of HR managers surveyed said their companies now subsidize employee cafeterias — even to the point of offering free food, if only on special occasions. Moreover, 19 percent subsidize gym memberships. Healthy employees are happy employees.

5. Love the perks. On-site perks such as childcare facilities, employee gyms and dry-cleaning pickup are also increasingly popular, with 15 percent of companies offering these benefits. Onsite perks such as these also reduce time lost by employees running errands on their breaks.

In employee retention studies, people often grumble about a lack of recognition and communication. Managers can do everything right, but if they're not including employees in the information loop, morale and retention could suffer. A pattern of dysfunction sets in and before you know it, your enterprise ends up looking a bit like, well, Dunder Mifflin.

So make your employees love working for your company — and they’ll stay with you for keeps.