How do we define greatness in sports? Winning. Yankees, Patriots and Lakers fans love Derek Jeter, Tom Brady and Kobe Bryant because they win.
But for me, as an avid New York Mets, Jets and Knicks fan, it pains me to utter such heretic words -- I admire them.
What do they all share in common, beyond filling up stat sheets and collecting trophies for their clubs? Consistency. All three played their entire career with one organization. That's a testament to the extent of their employee loyalty, one that is rarely found in a major league sports, particularly in the big market cities of New York, Boston and Los Angeles.
At ROYCE, we have our own Brady’s and Jeter’s. Their names are AJ, Antonio, Carlos, Fred and Phil. All have been with our family’s business longer than I have been alive, As a matter of fact, the majority were there to witness my mother -- their boss -- give birth to me. They were the backbone of our businesses’ growth from a modest New York City workshop and now they proudly line the walls of our company’s Hall of Fame.
My father, Harold, who continues to work 43 years after taking over the leather business from his father, and I became nervous after we read the Deloitte Millennial 2016 Survey which determined that more than two-thirds of millennial workers intend to leave their companies by 2020. The ubiquitous retirement-after-40-years-with-a-gold-watch-and-pension tradition of my father’s generation has diminished to a relic, especially when juxtaposed against the overriding entitlement of my peers. Another relic: the mere concept of lifelong employment with one organization.
As we retire the jerseys of AJ, Antonio and others after decades of dedication, we must ask ourselves -- how can we mitigate employee churn in the face of a rapidly increasing millennial workforce? Undisputedly, employee retention is not the priority in all industries. A recent read of mine, The Alliance, reminds us that some companies rely on the idea of a “tour of duty” where the employee and employer together agree on a mutually beneficial, time-definitive mission, rather than focus on being together for the next 40 years.
We don’t have that luxury in our field of craftsmanship. Consistency is king. Thus, we celebrate our employee retention rate with both upstream and downstream supply chain partners. Make no mistake, it requires unparalleled effort and a company culture to support it. In fact, at ROYCE, we offer a plethora of mentoring, training, upward mobility and advancement opportunities, diversity of assignments, a highly competitive compensation package, and most importantly, a family environment that makes employees look forward to work. We apply the time-honored mantra “treat each customer like they’re your top customer” to our employees as well, because some of our warehouse holiday season temps have transformed into our best workers.
In many instances, employee churn is not the fault of the worker but the failure of the company to come through for the employee. After all, loyalty is a two-way street. Jean Paul Saltos, who first moved boxes on pallets for us when he emigrated from Ecuador in 2008, now manages the entire front-end of our company. We believed in him, and that instilled his confidence in us.
My mother, Kathy, reminds me that our business, both internally and externally, is about relationships, not metrics, a sentiment that greatly parallels the aforementioned giants of modern day American sports. When the Lakers went 27-55 in the 2013 season, there was never a doubt that Kobe would leave for a more competitive team; nor was there a headline questioning Jeter’s allegiance to the 78-loss Yankees club of 2014. Even when we showed signs of struggle during the Great Recession, we never lost faith in our ROYCE family, and likewise, they remained ardently devoted to us.