When I left my corporate job to move to Australia, I was in a domestic violence relationship. Moving me across the world was the ultimate isolation tactic and the knock on effect of me losing that position would take a decade to overcome financially.
Only now when I look back and reflect, I realise the cost to the company I left. They lost a key employee, the years of knowledge I bought to my position, and had the task of finding a suitable candidate to take my place.
The cost of recruiting and interviewing
Anyone in business knows that the cost of recruiting is high, with agencies charging between 17-20% of the employee’s annual salary. Then you need to factor in the cost of interviewing, including the hours spent interviewing unsuitable candidates and meetings with colleagues about their suitability. Companies can go the route of finding an employee themselves but then hours of billable time will be used to select a suitable candidate from the many applications. Whichever way you go, employing new staff is expensive.
The cost of training
Even after you have found a person suited to both your company and the position left vacant because of domestic violence, there is still the cost of training to be accounted for and the loss of productivity whilst the new employee gets up to speed and becomes a fully-fledged member of the team they are working with. We all know that building relationships with our colleagues takes time so productivity is lost across the team as the new member integrates.
How do you retain key staff and prevent losses due to domestic abuse?
I was lucky I had a boss who knew that I was in an abusive relationship and she tried to help, but without polices and strategies in place she was limited in what she could do for me. The fact that we had a relationship where I felt safe to disclose to her means I could discuss and strategise with her on how I could remain at my most productive, which obviously benefitted the company as a whole. I know if the company had a strategy and the policies in place, they would have reattained me as an employee and I know how hard I would have worked for a company that I had so much loyalty to.
In 2011 the Australian Public Service Commission released a report in conjunction with the Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of Australian Government Administration in this report they looked at the effectiveness of retention strategies as reported by agencies in 2010–11. Out of the top five things that created effective staff retention were:
1. Study assistance
2. Management or leadership training
3. Inclusion of flexible work practices in industrial agreements
4. Wellbeing programs
5. Internal mobility opportunities
Four of the top five recommended strategies would be beneficial for employees subjected to domestic violence and their managers and bosses would also benefit from the support that would be available if these policies and strategies were implemented.
Domestic violence is not an easy subject to tackle for anyone including corporates but it is not going away and pretending that it is something that only affects others is not a solution. One in three women and one in 19 men are abused. In these modern times of around the clock availability of employees, the lines between home and work are becoming increasingly blurred. Domestic violence is impacting the bottom line and a part of that is losing key personnel.
Education around domestic violence will improve staff retention by allowing employees to reach out for help knowing that the policies are in place to support them, safe in the knowledge that they will not be putting their careers in jeopardy by breaking the code of silence.