Bosses Swear By The 90-Day Rule To Keep Workers Long Term
Chipotle, Waste Management and others gear hiring around reaching a milestone they say is critical to employee retention.
Chipotle, Waste Management and others gear hiring around reaching a milestone they say is critical to employee retention.
In the quest to retain workers, companies are sharpening their focus on a very specific common goal: 90 days.
Hold on to an employee for three months, executives and human-resources specialists say, and that person is more likely to remain employed longer-term, which they define as anywhere from a year on in today’s high-turnover environment. That has led manufacturing companies, restaurants, hotel operators and others to roll out special bonuses, stepped-up training and new programs to prevent new hires from quitting in their first three months on the job.
Heating and air-conditioning company Carrier Global Corp. began pairing new hires with a more experienced “buddy” in its manufacturing facilities after discovering most attrition happened before an employee hit the three-month mark, said Chief Executive David Gitlin. Executives at Minneapolis video software company Qumu Corp., have retooled training and onboarding processes partly around the goal of reducing what the company calls “quick quits,” or departures within three months, said Mercy Noah, Qumu’s vice president of human resources.
Some franchisees for McDonald’s Corp., Wendy’s Co. and others advertise new-hire bonuses of hundreds of dollars, many payable after 90 days; CVS Health Corp. gives warehouse workers at some of its facilities a $1,000 bonus if they stay on the job for three months.
“If you see someone hit the three-month mark, the reality is, they’re going to be here for at least a year,” said Marissa Andrada, chief people officer at Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. Chipotle has focused on consistent scheduling and giving new hires a clear explanation of company operations and benefits, she said. The tactics are designed to help employees be comfortable in its restaurants and motivated to stay, she said.
This summer’s labor market is among the tightest in decades, and finding enough workers, let alone desirable workers, remains so difficult that companies are increasingly motivated to retain new hires. Three months has traditionally been considered enough time for employees to begin to prove themselves, veteran human-resources executives say. Many companies also still enforce 90-day probationary periods, with some withholding benefits like health insurance in the meantime.
Just as it can take weeks of consistent effort to develop an exercise habit that sticks, employers have found that 90 days is typically enough time for workers to get into a steady routine of a new job. This can be particularly important for hourly employees in higher-turnover industries like hospitality or manufacturing, executives say, where workers have plenty of options.
The unemployment rate stood at 3.6% last month. Employees have benefited from a labour market that has given them the ability to more easily change jobs for higher pay. Workers are flexing their power in other ways, too. Employees at an Apple Inc. store in Maryland voted earlier this month to unionize, creating the first Apple retail union in the U.S., adding to unionization drives at companies such as Starbucks Corp.
Patrick Whalen, director of human resources and organizational development at the aerospace manufacturing company TAT Limco in Tulsa, Okla., watched late last year as a number of the company’s welders, assemblers and others left for jobs that, in some cases, paid only a dollar or two more an hour. Some workers, he said, barely stuck around for a month. Frustrated, Mr. Whalen began making a case inside the company that it needed to rethink its approach to bringing on new employees. He wanted a 90-day plan.
“It seems to be a magic window,” he said.
After he explained that every new hire who left early cost the company thousands of dollars in training expenses, time and lost revenue, Mr. Whalen said managers agreed to a change. In January, the company instituted a new 90-day onboarding process.
TAT Limco hired an onboarding coordinator to oversee every new employee’s entry into the company. Managers now contact employees before their first day, part of an effort to provide more contact points with new hires so they don’t get lured to a rival. Supervisors set weekly expectations for new employees to guide them in their first three months, giving staffers structured goals and time to get up to speed.
Turnover, at 37% in January, has fallen by more than half, to 16% today, Mr. Whalen said. Newer employees are also sticking around. In the first three months of the year, the company lost one of 45 employees it hired. “If we lose somebody within the first month or two months or three months, it’s very rare,” Mr. Whalen said.
There are signs the labour market is cooling, particularly among salaried workers. Companies including Tesla Inc. and Netflix Inc. have announced plans to cut staff, and some employers have rescinded job offers to new hires. Yet for hourly jobs across a broad range of sectors, demand for workers remains historically high.
Workers say they often know within weeks if a job will be a fit. Aliyah Abbott, a 23-year-old rising senior at Temple University, said she left a marketing internship in Philadelphia recently after about a month. Though Ms. Abbott said she had never before quit a role and hesitated to leave the internship before it ended this summer, she thought the position turned out to be different than initially presented to her. It paid less than she thought she had been promised, with some compensation based on a commission structure, she said.
“By the third or fourth week, you’re kind of like, ‘Is this right for me?’” she said. She quickly found a new job working as a marketing coordinator. “The bigger picture with jobs is just trial and error sometimes,” she said.
Much of the success of a job in the first three months also comes down to an employee’s connection with a company, executives say. At the San Francisco software company Intercom, new hires at all levels are asked to embark on what the company calls a listening tour to understand the company’s operations and meet with as many colleagues as possible. For lower-level staffers, that might last two weeks; for executives, it could stretch to six.
“The first 90 days is almost like an extended interview process by the employee of the company,” said L. David Kingsley, Intercom’s chief people officer. “Those are the critical moments where someone is truly deciding.”
Some companies, like workplace software provider Envoy, have hired staffers in recent months who will check in with hiring managers and new employees to see how the experience is going for all sides. “That first 90 days are when you have people that either say, ‘This was the best thing I ever did,’ or ‘I made a mistake because it’s not what I thought it was going to be,’” said Annette Reavis, Envoy’s chief people officer.
Waste Management Inc. plans to roll out a tool that will allow managers to get real-time feedback from their teams; workers will be able to leave comments anonymously. The tool will be available to both new workers in their first months on the job and veteran employees. “You’re going to get tidbits from your folks,” said John Morris, Waste Management’s chief operating officer. “It’s going to be, ‘Hey, this is what my group is telling me what’s on their minds.’”
The trash-and-recycling hauler studied its employee turnover data and found the first 120 days to be particularly critical for keeping new staffers as they learn their roles. The company pairs new hires with more experienced staffers and sends some workers to in-person training in Arizona and Florida.
Many factors play into retaining a new worker, Mr. Morris said, including educational benefits and pay. But the company wants to make sure its managers are also equipped to respond to issues in a variety of channels, one reason for the new tool.
“We all get a ton of feedback. But if it’s 800 pages, nobody’s going to read it,” Mr. Morris said. “So how do you give these frontline leaders tidbits, nuggets, actionable things that they can do?”
Jennifer Sick, a 29-year-old based in Richfield, Ohio, took a position in late February as a sales representative at Group Management Services Inc., a provider of payroll, outsourcing and other services to small businesses. The company has a 90-day probationary period, with clearly outlined goals, the first Ms. Sick experienced in her career.
At a minimum, Ms. Sick said managers required her to make 300 cold calls a week and to visit two small businesses; if she wanted to achieve a bonus at 90 days, she could make 375 calls a week, and visit four businesses. Managers checked in repeatedly to see if she needed anything, she said.
“It was a constant communication of, ‘How are you feeling? How are you doing?’” she said.
She completed day 90 on a Friday in early June, and received the bonus for making additional calls and visits. By the following Monday, she also had the keys to a company-issued Hyundai sedan and gas card, another perk for moving past her probationary period.
“I worked really hard in my 90 days because I just saw my future at this company,” she said.
Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: June 29 2022.
Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’
Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual
Food prices continue to rise at a rapid pace, surprising central banks and pressuring debt-laden governments
LONDON—Fresh out of an energy crisis, Europeans are facing a food-price explosion that is changing diets and forcing consumers across the region to tighten their belts—literally.
This is happening even though inflation as a whole is falling thanks to lower energy prices, presenting a new policy challenge for governments that deployed billions in aid last year to keep businesses and households afloat through the worst energy crisis in decades.
New data on Wednesday showed inflation in the U.K. fell sharply in April as energy prices cooled, following a similar pattern around Europe and in the U.S. But food prices were 19.3% higher than a year earlier.
The continued surge in food prices has caught central bankers off guard and pressured governments that are still reeling from the cost of last year’s emergency support to come to the rescue. And it is pressuring household budgets that are also under strain from rising borrowing costs.
In France, households have cut their food purchases by more than 10% since the invasion of Ukraine, while their purchases of energy have fallen by 4.8%.
In Germany, sales of food fell 1.1% in March from the previous month, and were down 10.3% from a year earlier, the largest drop since records began in 1994. According to the Federal Information Centre for Agriculture, meat consumption was lower in 2022 than at any time since records began in 1989, although it said that might partly reflect a continuing shift toward more plant-based diets.
Food retailers’ profit margins have contracted because they can’t pass on the entire price increases from their suppliers to their customers. Markus Mosa, chief executive of the Edeka supermarket chain, told German media that the company had stopped ordering products from several large suppliers because of rocketing prices.
A survey by the U.K.’s statistics agency earlier this month found that almost three-fifths of the poorest 20% of households were cutting back on food purchases.
“This is an access problem,” said Ludovic Subran, chief economist at insurer Allianz, who previously worked at the United Nations World Food Program. “Total food production has not plummeted. This is an entitlement crisis.”
Food accounts for a much larger share of consumer spending than energy, so a smaller rise in prices has a greater impact on budgets. The U.K.’s Resolution Foundation estimates that by the summer, the cumulative rise in food bills since 2020 will have amounted to 28 billion pounds, equivalent to $34.76 billion, outstripping the rise in energy bills, estimated at £25 billion.
“The cost of living crisis isn’t ending, it is just entering a new phase,” Torsten Bell, the research group’s chief executive, wrote in a recent report.
Food isn’t the only driver of inflation. In the U.K., the core rate of inflation—which excludes food and energy—rose to 6.8% in April from 6.2% in March, its highest level since 1992. Core inflation was close to its record high in the eurozone during the same month.
Still, Bank of England Gov. Andrew Bailey told lawmakers Tuesday that food prices now constitute a “fourth shock” to inflation after the bottlenecks that jammed supply chains during the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise in energy prices that accompanied Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and surprisingly tight labor markets.
Europe’s governments spent heavily on supporting households as energy prices soared. Now they have less room to borrow given the surge in debt since the pandemic struck in 2020.
Some governments—including those of Italy, Spain and Portugal—have cut sales taxes on food products to ease the burden on consumers. Others are leaning on food retailers to keep their prices in check. In March, the French government negotiated an agreement with leading retailers to refrain from price rises if it is possible to do so.
Retailers have also come under scrutiny in Ireland and a number of other European countries. In the U.K., lawmakers have launched an investigation into the entire food supply chain “from farm to fork.”
“Yesterday I had the food producers into Downing Street, and we’ve also been talking to the supermarkets, to the farmers, looking at every element of the supply chain and what we can do to pass on some of the reduction in costs that are coming through to consumers as fast as possible,” U.K. Treasury Chief Jeremy Hunt said during The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit in London.
The government’s Competition and Markets Authority last week said it would take a closer look at retailers.
“Given ongoing concerns about high prices, we are stepping up our work in the grocery sector to help ensure competition is working well,” said Sarah Cardell, who heads the CMA.
Some economists expect that added scrutiny to yield concrete results, assuming retailers won’t want to tarnish their image and will lean on their suppliers to keep prices down.
“With supermarkets now more heavily under the political spotlight, we think it more likely that price momentum in the food basket slows,” said Sanjay Raja, an economist at Deutsche Bank.
It isn’t entirely clear why food prices have risen so fast for so long. In world commodity markets, which set the prices received by farmers, food prices have been falling since April 2022. But raw commodity costs are just one part of the final price. Consumers are also paying for processing, packaging, transport and distribution, and the size of the gap between the farm and the dining table is unusually wide.
The BOE’s Bailey thinks one reason for the bank having misjudged food prices is that food producers entered into longer-term but relatively expensive contracts with fertilizer, energy and other suppliers around the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in their eagerness to guarantee availability at a time of uncertainty.
But as the pressures being placed on retailers suggest, some policy makers suspect that an increase in profit margins may also have played a role. Speaking to lawmakers, Bailey was wary of placing any blame on food suppliers.
“It’s a story about rebuilding margins that were squeezed in the early part of last year,” he said.
Rocket, the parent of Quicken Loans, has surged 28% this week.
Investing app Robinhood blocked access to GameStop and other highflying names on Thursday as trading surged among retail users. The move comes after GameStop (GME) stock has shot higher over the past week, inspiring a short squeeze. The action — driven by retail traders often using options — has spread to other names like BlackBerry (BB), AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC), and Bed …
Continue reading “Robinhood Blocks Buying in GameStop, AMC, and Other Stocks. Other Brokers Also Add Guardrails.”