Government could learn from corporates on retention issues

by 20 Apr 2010

It’s comforting to know that even the Prime Minister has staff retention issues to deal with.

It was revealed this week that Kevin Rudd's staff attrition is extremely high, with 262 ministerial staff – from a total of 444 positions – departing since Labor came to power.

Three ministers have racked up more than 100 per cent staff turnover, with Youth Minister Kate Ellis overseeing a team with a rate of attrition of 130 per cent.

The Prime Minister himself has lost 28 staff, with Government insiders reportedly describing his office as a "transit lounge".

Mr Rudd said the high pressure of a political office meant it couldn't be compared to the private sector.

"A staff working year is probably like a dog year, that is it's probably worth seven years in normal life. So if folks stay with me for three or four years, that's probably 28 or 30 years or more in actual time.”

But as any HR professional knows, re-recruiting for positions is an expensive and time consuming task. So why is the Government retention strategy so flawed?

Alan Heyward, sales and client service director at employee recognition and reward specialist Accumulate, said the Federal Government could take a leaf out of the book of corporates both in Australia and globally in how they structure their employee engagement and retention strategies, particularly in the area of recognition and reward.

“In my experience, Government has traditionally been reticent to properly explore, and invest, in any form of structured reward and recognition, beyond length of service or milestone awards. This is due largely to budgetary constraints.

“While Government traditionally focuses on length of service recognition, we have found many times in corporate environments that this form of recognition in isolation can have a limited impact.

“Those companies that do reward and recognition well include their milestone recognition as part of a broader employee benefits program, which includes elements such as a more structured approach to reward and recognition. This involves includes peer nominations, health and wellbeing activities, and a range of other staff benefits,” said Heyward.


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