Take a look in the mirror
August 19, 2008
Monday’s Daily News headline regarding housing and the Aspen School District has become a broken record (sorry, skipping CD), both in print and in radio spots, for the past few years. While housing is indeed one of the myriad issues in the ongoing struggle to retain employees in this valley, too often it is an easy out for organizations such as school districts and other public entities to explain away their turnover. In my near 20 years in the valley it has been my experience that, more often than not, the culture within an organization has been the larger factor in employee retention.
Inherent to doing business in the Roaring Fork Valley is the struggle to keep good employees. While this may be stating the obvious, it speaks to the health and management of an organization if they are able to overcome this challenge. There are many businesses in the area that have long-term employees with a long waiting list of prospective replacements. Through much anecdotal evidence, the common factor in this group’s retention is the cultivation of a healthy work environment by good managers. This might not seem like gee-whiz science for anyone out in the wage economy that is putting in 40-plus hours a week to get by, but if you look between the lines and listen it is apparent that those in supervisory and management roles in struggling organizations do not get it.
My suggestion to those businesses with high turnover, that endlessly wave the banner of “lack of employee housing,” is to get a little introspective and see if you are really doing all you can on a day-to-day basis to create a culture that working folks want to be a part of. Stop believing those exit interviews (if you truly do them at all) because folks that are walking out the door and must provide your name and number on their next job application are not going to tell you what a crappy job you are doing managing people. Smart, creative folks that really want to live here will go through many housing incarnations to stay and play. They are all around you, they just happen to be working for someone else …