Providing the Perks to Retain Your Best Employees

By Alison Diana  |  Print this article Print

So your VAR or MSP business doesn't have the resources to offer gourmet cafeteria food, free Coke and Mountain Dew or other Google/Facebook-style employee benefits? Here's a look at why employee benefits matter and how you can provide them even if your company bank account is tight.

Solution providers may not have the budgets for corporate laundry service, a diverse array of free meals from on-site restaurants, or annual trips to exotic locales, but that doesn’t mean channel businesses don’t spend a lot of time and resources ensuring they keep their top talent happy and engaged.

In fact, retaining high-quality employees consistently rates as one of small- and midsize business owners’ top challenges across a spectrum of industries, multiple studies have found. And even though some industries have apparently neglected employee satisfaction, the channel’s complexity, competitiveness, and ongoing need to adapt to change means solution provider executives must consistently keep a close eye on employee happiness.

Over the past three years, more employers have focused more on controlling expenses than employee satisfaction and retention, according to the ninth annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends: A Blueprint for the New Benefits Economy. Simultaneously, fewer employees voluntarily left jobs, even if they were unhappy, because they were afraid they could not find another position. As a result, however, employee loyalty is at a three-year low—and employers appear unaware of this trend, MetLife found. In fact, employers assume employees remain as loyal as they did pre-recession, the study indicated.

"The widening gap in loyalty perception is a sign that employers may be taking employee retention for granted. They are not paying attention to serious cracks in the loyalty foundations of their workforce; cracks that can expand to threaten their ability to retain the key talent they’ll need most," according to MetLife.

In 2010, 72 percent of human-resource professionals said their companies’ benefits packages had been damaged because of the recession, Baseline reported.

Now positions are opening , the economy is picking up, and employees feel freer to move around, that lack of employer loyalty poses a danger to companies that haven’t paid attention to employee satisfaction. So how can solution providers ensure their quality employees are satisfied? And what benefits can smaller companies reasonably provide to workers to keep them happy and productive?

After all, it’s expensive and disruptive to replace high-quality employees. It costs Asynchrony Solutions an estimated $100,000 every time someone leaves, said Bob Elfanbaum, general manager at the VAR, which was acquired last year by Shafer Corp. That figure includes recruiting fees, training time, lost productivity, and the challenges of integrating a new person into the company and team, he told Channel Insider. Historically, Asynchrony Solutions’ turnover is at about 5 percent, he said.

"I think you can rationalize spending a lot of money on culture if you believe there’s a huge cost to turnover," Elfanbaum said. "We deliver solutions; we don’t deliver bodies which is a big difference. Because we provide solutions people aren’t truly replaceable."

Satisfied employees also translate into improved customer service, better products, more productive staff, and faster time-to-market, studies have shown.