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Retain low-wage employees without busting your budget

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Issue: Retention efforts often focus only on the well-paid professionals and superstars.

Benefit: A few simple moves and low-cost programs can help trim turnover among the rank-and-file members of your work force.

Action: Follow the lead of these four organizations to increase productivity.

Don't focus your retention efforts only on management superstars at the expense of rank-and-file employees. By using just a few low-cost programs, you can help retain low-wage employees and encourage them to show up each day.

Many low-wage employees find it difficult to keep jobs or remain productive due to unanticipated but ordinary events, says a study by Corporate Voices for Working Families (

Example: A low-wage employee has a flat tire and arrives late to work. For weeks, he takes the bus, often arriving late and tired, until he can afford to buy a new tire.

To address such problems, some U.S. businesses have launched programs aimed at reducing absenteeism, improving job satisfaction and increasing productivity among lower-wage staff. Four examples:

1. Emergency loans. Levi Strauss & Co. offers short-term grants and loans under $1,000 to employees and retirees for unexpected financial emergencies.

2. Leave time. Kraft Foods lets employees swap shifts for a day, share jobs and use vacation time in units as small as one hour to handle personal affairs.

3. Tying bonus to hours. Eddie Bauer offers monthly financial incentives to employees who surpass store sales goals. The award level depends on the number of hours employees worked in the previous month. Home Depot gives bonuses based on sales goals and the number of hours em-ployees worked in the previous six months.

4. Child care reimbursements. Bank of America reimburses employees with kids under 13 for part of their child care costs.

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