It makes sense to make an effort to keep good staff
Losing trained staff is a major cost for businesses but only a minority of firms make keeping people a priority, a new survey suggests.
When more than 600 people were asked what aspects of a sustainable workplace their organisation possessed, most ticked flexible working options, learning and education, equal opportunities and a culturally sensitive environment.
Bottom of the heap in the 2012 Sustainable Business Council/Fairfax Business and Consumer Survey was attention to staff turnover and retaining talent, with only 38 per cent saying their workplace did this.
That was despite the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand suggesting that losing a staff member after a year or more can cost approximately three times their salary, depending on the position.
Also, morale, brand image, service delivery and reputation can suffer from high staff turnover, says the institute.
Booker-Spalding director Peter Grayling is in no doubt: his company's philosophy is to put people ahead of returns to shareholders or even clients.
"If you get that right, the other two will look after themselves - it is your staff that look after your customers."
This year has been a bad one for turnover by the corporate uniform maker's standards: it is losing four of its approximately 50 staff because two are pregnant and two are following partners to live in Australia. Typically, turnover is about 0.1 per cent a year.
Grayling says relocating all staff to a single level in a single premises in Petone has helped staff cohesion, along with multi-cultural bake-offs and an active commitment to involving staff in business changes, including the company's sustainability policy.
Booker-Spalding often designs and manufactures uniforms for banks and insurance companies which have their own corporate responsibility requirements.
Grayling said the perception of being a good corporate - for example, donating money and raincoats to schools - was an important element in keeping staff.
Of the survey respondents, 43 per cent said they would leave an organisation whose corporate responsibility did not meet their expectations.
At Booker-Spalding the extremely long tenures of some staff had led to an older workforce, but the company was able to re-balance that by hiring new, young designers rather than having to let people go, said Grayling.
"We've had most of our clients 15 or 20 years and that is because the staff look after them."
Entries are open for the 2012 Sustainable 60 awards, promoting sustainable business practices. To download the entry criteria, see sustainable60.co.nz.