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Retaining Star Players

(April 2006) posted on Mon Apr 24, 2006

How to keep your best employees.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Marty McGhie

In both cases, what's key is sharing your future plans with
your top personnel, and discussing how each of them fit into
those plans"?now, and in the future.

Beyond the money

Providing employee benefits above and beyond salary is another
key to retaining your best people. For example, one of the most
effective benefits you can offer to your employees is some sort of
retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or a Keogh plan. Another benefit
you may wish to evaluate is your vacation or personal time
off (PTO) policies. While additional vacation time allotted to your
employees certainly should be considered a cost to your company,
it often can be an easy benefit to add to without costing
you out-of-pocket cash (as does a bonus or salary increase).

An additional incentive for key personnel: a profit-sharing
plan. Profit-sharing plans can be creatively constructed so that
certain profitability benchmarks must be achieved before money
is distributed. If your top employees perform to those standards, it
becomes a win-win situation"?they make more money, as do you.

Creating a positive work environment can also make a big difference
in retaining your top employees. Regardless of how much
they're paid, your people must be happy in the work place. As a
manager, one of your most important jobs is fostering a setting in
which your employees will look forward to coming to work. Let's
face it"?this is where they spend a significant part of their day.

Evaluating replacement costs
To retain your best employees, you must offer competitive
compensation within the marketplace. You can build the best
programs, provide ample opportunities for your employees to
progress in their career, offer great benefits, and cultivate wonderful
work surroundings"?but if you don't pay your top people a
competitive wage, you will eventually lose them.

Be careful not to take them for granted, even if they're very
happy. While you may not have to pay them the highest rate on
the market, you had best make sure that you are compensating
them fairly. Ask yourself this question every once in awhile:
"What would it cost me to replace this person?"

Finally, keep in mind that while the competitive marketplace
for graphics is a narrow band, the competitive market for
employees cuts a broader swath. The best and brightest will not
only be sought after by your competitors"?you are competing
with every other business out there as well.

Marty McGhie ( is VP finance/
operations of Ferrari Color, a digital-imaging center with
Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Sacramento locations.