Expert: Bosses should focus on 'keepers'

Aiming to discourage top talent from jumping ship for better offers, many employers offer big bonuses - and tailored job descriptions that fit like fine suits.

But these perks should not be given out indiscriminately, says author Peter Cappelli in an article in the current Harvard Business Review. Mr. Cappelli instead suggests a "strategy that begins with the assumption that long-term, across-the-board employee loyalty is neither possible nor desirable."

He says the focus should "shift from broad retention programs to highly targeted efforts aimed at particular employees or groups of employees."

Some techniques he suggests companies use to help keep their best and brightest on board:

*Design jobs to be more attractive to groups of employees. This can help alleviate worker frustration and increase productivity by providing more focus and burden-sharing.

*Tailor tasks to the needs of particular individuals. Be creative in allowing certain employees to design their own jobs according to their interests and skills.

*Pay signing bonuses, or "hot skills" premiums, to workers with skills that are in critical demand. But understand that it can take more than just money. "The problem with pay-based incentives," Cappelli notes, "is that they are easy for outsiders to match."

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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