The Farm

farmIn the current market, good people are hard to find and even harder to keep. We often encounter a bidding war, when some desperate companies offer eye-watering salaries for what looks like a basic position. If we had unlimited budgets we too could bid high, but that would just be a waste of the company’s precious resources. We have to do something to differentiate our company as a fantastic place to work without breaking the bank. With the right mind sets we can learn how to attract and retain the best staff.
It is well known that I have a farm. Only a small one, with a few horses, pigs, sheep and poultry, but a farm nonetheless. After my family, my farm means more to me than anything else and I’d rather be there than anywhere. This causes me a problem because the farm is not at all financially viable and I need to work to subsidise all of the animals. If I only came into work for the money though, I would most likely only do sufficient work to keep my job. I am fortunate because I have been allowed the freedoms outlined below and I have a great team which competes well with the pull of the farm.
When I consider my team, I realise that they all have their “farm”; something they would rather be doing. If nothing is done to engage them, they too will only do what is necessary for them to keep their job. Provident is a FTSE100 company and as such needs everyone to go those extra miles to keep us at the top. As a manager, this presents me with a great challenge because I must make their working environment sufficiently attractive to compete with their “farm”. This challenge is compounded by the need to stay within financial budgets.
There are many ways to achieve this:
Be flexible
Not all staff are happy working a strict 9 to 5. I allow my team to start and end their day to suit their working mode. Obviously there needs to be some restraint here, but I have no problem with 8 to 4 or 10 to 6. That little bit of “give” can make the team feel more valued.
Home Working
Some members of my team are far more productive working from home than they are in the office. Helping a colleague to juggle family needs with work by remote working can give you a very loyal team member who will always do that bit extra when it is needed. It is important that you monitor productivity because for some people their “farm” is just a little too distracting.
Keep it exciting
It is very easy to fall into a routine of “take a change request from the list, develop, test, deploy and repeat”. This cycle leads to a waste of talent and atrophy of skills. It is vital to keep the team’s skills current. This can be achieved by training, mentoring and allowing the team time to explore new techniques and tools. This “R and D” time is vital for the health of the team and if they are given sufficient time to build their skills and knowledge they will become more loyal and pay you back manifold.

In conclusion, more people leave a job for better opportunities and training. Money will only pull someone from their “farm” for so long. You need to really engage the team to keep them productively on your payroll.

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