Employee Retention in VCE

Kristi Hedges was our Winter Conference keynote speaker a few years back. I subscribe to a monthly post (free) that she writes about Leadership. A month or so ago she wrote about employee retention.  She shared that a study by Harris Interactive showed that 74% of people would consider leaving their jobs today. I guess I am a dinosaur, having stayed with VCE for 29 years!  Obviously there are huge costs, work impacts, and headaches when we lose employees. And studies have continuously shown that money isn’t the top factor in employee happiness.

Kristi suggests 4 strategies that should impact keeping folks around.

  • Set realistic expectations from the start – It’s better to be clear from the beginning, and explain the expectations for the job and how to fit within the larger culture. VCE is not the right fit for everyone. Do we do a good job of this when recruiting new employees?
  • Show employees that there is room for them to grow – Employee mobility—and making sure our people are aware that it exists— is key to retaining employees. Do we have enough ways for agents and others to move up within the organization?
  • Demonstrate the advantages of where they work – What are the perks of working in VCE? Do we do a good job of selling those?
  • Let your employees know you trust themAllowing employees to get the job done the way they see best shows respect for autonomy and decision-making skills. Is this our culture in VCE?

Give us your ideas about how VCE can improve employee retention.

Joe Hunnings

2 thoughts on “Employee Retention in VCE

  1. Secret Squirrel

    I would like to comment as a veteran of VCE – who has seen many folks come and go (and a good few continue to stay as well!) I choose to stay for several reasons – and will comment based on the strategies listed by Kristi Hedges : 1) I am invested in the system – both in retirement, and in knowing the ebbs and flows of workload, changes (good and bad), etc. I know the expectations, although I do feel they are changing, and even increasing every year. Newer folks won’t see this change, because they weren’t here to see the “old” system, so they might adjust easier than veterans. 2) There are ways to grow – and mobility opportunities within the system, especially concerning supervision and specialist jobs. However, there are only TWO promotions as agents – the first one, a right to keep your job (Associate to Full Agent) and the second one – promotion to Senior Agent – which not everyone will even apply for and receive. Most of the supervision and specialist positions would require relocation. 3) Perks – these are important. There is freedom to plan your program – to meet the needs identified. There is freedom and variety in the general work day and week – no two days are alike. And then there is the real reason most of us stay, if money isn’t the MOST important – and that is the opportunity to make people’s lives better and to make positive impacts in lives every day. And there is no price you can put on that, as the commercial says. Intrinsic rewards – that is what I tell all the new folks. A little extra money in the form of a raise or bonus never hurts, though. But most of us will never be monetarily rich working for the state government. So, our rewards must come from elsewhere – and that is probably what keeps folks around past 40 years of age or 10 years of service. 4)Employee trust – to some extent, we are trusted to manage our programs, our work schedules, our professional leave and our annual leave, etc. We don’t all have a supervisor looking over our shoulders every day, or even in the same building as us. I do think we do a good job of explaining this to new agents, but they must experience it first, and having a good mentor is important in sharing ideas. To summarize, I have seen folks leave for more money, more opportunity for upward growth, more time at home with a “fixed” schedule, etc. I tell the new agents coming in that they will need to experience the job for a bit before drawing too many conclusions – and it helps to have mentors and co-workers to guide you. From a personal note, though, I do feel the reporting, paperwork and new policies and procedures have all increased during my career, and I have less time to actually do the programming that I truly enjoy most. Perhaps this is due to my having been here long enough to see these changes and have to adjust, and then struggle to adjust, where newer folks will find it easier to adjust as they will have nothing to compare to. Just my two cents – and you know “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, please to put a penny in an old man’s hat. If you have no penny, a half penny will do, if you have no half penny then……..get a part time job”

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  2. Joe Hunnings

    Secret Squirrel, thanks for your insights. And I agree about the importance of have a good mentor for new agents. Studies have shown that having a useful mentor is a key factor in job retention.
    Now go put that goose in the oven. I’ll be there for Christmas dinner!

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