Key Employees and 'Golden Handcuffs'
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Key Employees and 'Golden Handcuffs'

Key Employees and 'Golden Handcuffs'

Moving into the holiday season, and a tighter than ever job market, we are seeing reports that hiring for the season may be more costly than what franchisee owners may have budgeted (or be able to pay). In fact, Multi-Unit Franchisee Report recently reported that the average hourly wage for seasonal workers is expected to increase by almost 32%.

In our last article, "Low Unemployment Rates Can Spell Trouble for Franchisees," we tackled the cost of turnover and how having the right type of culture can help you retain key employees. Here we are going to go deeper into what retention really looks like with key employees or up and coming managers. For instance, when your key talent is growing within the organization, they want greater opportunity and therefore retention strategies go beyond instilling culture and how much you can afford to pay the employee.

An example of this that I witnessed recently was with a colleague's brother-in-law who works for a large software company. For the sake of anonymity, we will call him, John. John has been with his organization for twelve years and his skill set and reputation of the company for whom he works is highly sought after. His organization has a great culture, he makes "good" money and the benefits cannot be beat. In comes the "golden handcuffs" which are those things that go beyond the norm. In order to ensure he stays, he has been offered generous bonuses, and most recently, the opportunity to telecommute. Sure, the bonuses are great, but a key factor in retaining him was working with him to provide a benefit that mattered to him, personally. Telecommuting is something that will allow him more opportunity to spend time with his family, which to him, was more important than continued bonuses or increases in pay.

Golden handcuffs are not for every employee, but they are for those that demonstrate star potential with competencies that include versatility, non-self-centric, thinking, and empathy. More specifically, qualified employees that should be considered should have a diverse set of competencies such as:

  • Strong and quick intellect - they must demonstrate successfully dealing with difficult customers, vendors, and the crazy unique situations that go on in your business on a daily basis
  • Positive mental attitude - energetic and above average people skills with a "do what it takes to get the job done" focus versus simply punching the timeclock.
  • Desire for more - they want more and might even possess an entrepreneurial spirit

When looking at your current key employees and future leaders, can you identify those that you just know you would not want to lose? If you can, you must do all you can to retain them. When it comes to retention, discussions beyond salary increases, bonuses, or promotions. There are other factors to consider, including what is most important to your key employee. One size may not fit all when developing out your retention strategies.

 Kendall Rawls knows and understands the challenges that impact the success of an entrepreneurial owned business. Her unique perspective comes not only from her educational background; but, more importantly, from her experience as a second-generation family member employee of The Rawls Group - Business Succession Planners. For more information, visit or email

Published: October 30th, 2018

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