BOSSES SWEAR BY THE 90-DAY RULE TO KEEP WORKERS LONG TERM - Kanebridge News
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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.

By Chip Cutter
Wed, Jul 20, 2022 4:44pmGrey Clock 6 min

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.



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I.M. Pei was the confident visionary behind such transformative structures as the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, but he was also humble, and for years resisted a retrospective of his work.

Pei, a Chinese-American architect who died in 2019 at 102 , would always protest any suggestion of a major exhibition, saying, “why me,” noting, too, that he was still actively at work, recalls his youngest son, Li Chung “Sandi” Pei. A decade ago, when Pei was in his mid-to-late 90s, he relented, finally telling Aric Chen, a curator at the M+ museum in Hong Kong, “all right, if you want to do it, go ahead,” Sandi says.

A sweeping retrospective, “I.M. Pei: Life Is Architecture,” will open June 29 at M+ in the city’s West Kowloon Cultural District. The exhibition of more than 300 objects, including drawings, architectural models, photographs, films, and other archival documents, will feature Pei’s influential structures, but in dialogue with his “social, cultural, and biographical trajectories, showing architecture and life to be inseparable,” the museum said in a news release.

As a Chinese citizen who moved to the U.S. in 1935 to learn architecture, Pei—whose full first name was Ieoh Ming—brought a unique cultural perspective to his work.

“His life is what’s really interesting and separates him from many other architects,” Sandi says. “He brought with him so many sensibilities, cultural connections to China, and yet he was a man of America, the West.”

Facade of the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© South Ho Siu Nam

Pei’s architectural work was significant particularly because of its emphasis on cultural institutions—from the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar—“buildings that have a major impact in their communities,” Sandi says. But he also did several urban redevelopment projects, including Kips Bay Towers in Manhattan and Society Hill in Philadelphia.

“These are all places for people,” Sandi says. “He believed in the importance of architecture as a way to bring and celebrate life. Whether it was a housing development or museum or a tall building or whatever—he really felt a responsibility to try to bring something to wherever he was working that would uplift people.”

A critical juncture in Pei’s career was 1948, when he was recruited from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (where he received a master’s degree in architecture) by New York real estate developer William Zeckendorf.

With Zeckendorf, Pei traveled across the country, meeting politicians and other “movers and shakers” from Denver and Los Angeles, to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston, and New York. “He became very adept at working in that environment, where you had to know how to persuade people,” Sandi says.

During the seven-year period Pei worked with Zeckendorf, the developer fostered the growth of his architecture practice, supporting an office that included urban, industrial, graphic, and interior designers, in addition to architects and other specialists, Sandi says.

When Pei started his own practice in 1955, “he had this wealth of a firm that could do anything almost anywhere,” Sandi says. “It was an incredible springboard for what became his own practice, which had no parallel in the profession.”

According to Sandi, Chinese culture, traditions, and art were inherent to his father’s life as he grew up, and “he brought that sensibility when he came into America and it always influenced his work.” This largely showed up in the way he thought of architecture as a “play of solids and voids,” or buildings and landscape.

“He always felt that they worked together in tandem—you can’t separate one from the other—and both of them are influenced by the play of light,” Sandi says.

View of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, on the mesa, in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© Naho Kubota

Pei also often said that “architecture follows art,” and was particularly influenced by cubism, an artistic movement exploring time and space that was practiced in the early 20th century by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, among others. This influence is apparent in the laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y. “Those two buildings, if you look at them, have a play of solid and void, which are very cubistic,” Sandi says.

Yet Sandi argues that his father didn’t have a specific architectural style. Geometry may have been a consistent feature to his work, but his projects always were designed in response to their intended site. The resulting structure emerged as almost inevitable, he says. “It just was the right solution.”

Pei also intended his buildings “not only to be themselves a magnet for life,” but also to influence the area where they existed. “He never felt that a building stood alone,” Sandi says. “Urban design, urban planning, was a very important part of his approach to architecture, always.”

After he closed his own firm to supposedly “retire” in the early 1990s, Pei worked alongside Sandi and his older brother, Chien Chung (Didi) Pei, who died late last year, at PEI Architects, formerly Pei Partnership Architects. Pei would work on his own projects, with their assistance, and would guide his sons, too. The firm had substantial involvement in the Museum of Islamic Art, among other initiatives, for instance, Sandi says.

Working with his father was fun, he says. In starting a project, Pei was often deliberately vague about his intentions. The structure would coalesce “through a process of dialogue and sketches and sometimes just having lunch over a bottle of wine,” Sandi says. “He was able to draw from each of us who was working on the project our best efforts to help to guide [it] to some kind of form.”

The M+ retrospective, which will run through Jan. 5, is divided into six areas of focus, from Pei’s upbringing and education through to his work in real estate and urban redevelopment, art and civic projects, to how he reinterpreted history through design.

Sandi, who will participate in a free public discussion moderated by exhibition co-curator Shirley Surya on the day it opens, is interested “in the opportunity to look at my father anew and to see his work in a different light now that it’s over, his last buildings are complete. You can take a full assessment of his career.”

And, he says, “I’m excited for other people to become familiar with his life.”