The pink slip frenzy that has accompanied these less-than-stellar economic times has left many an employer running lean and mean, in unenviable positions where they can ill afford to lose those valuable, skilled employees who have thus far weathered the storm.
Yet, in the past few months, more than 200,000 civilian workers have been called to military service, with an expectation that they could be gone for a year or longer. Furthering the hardships already felt, these employers must keep those jobs open for up to five years as mandated by federal law.
"Employers are being asked to support the military reserves and National Guard, and they are rising to the occasion," says Joyce Gioia, executive director of The Workforce Stability Institute in Greensboro, N.C. "But as their employees are being called away, these employers need support as well."
That support, Gioia says, must focus on a vital strategic initiative: retention.
The "retention situation," as Gioia calls it, will become even more precarious when even modest economic growth opens new job opportunities. "This growth, anticipated to start later this year, will stimulate new employment, which will lead to higher turnover," she says. "Worker turnover will become critical for employers, especially for those employers who must keep positions open in support of their mobilized workers."
Consequently, employers need help retaining the "left behind" employees of today and of the future—those individuals on whom employers increasingly depend. To support employers of reservists and guardspeople, the institute is offering employers a free copy of one of the definitive guides to retention, Roger Herman's Keeping Good People (Oakhill Press, 1999). Employers are invited to complete the request form at www.employee.org or call the institute at 336-282-1480 to request a complimentary copy. Tips on supporting families of activated employees will be included with the book.