The words “recruitment” and “retention” come up frequently in the corporate world and as of late I have been hearing them more and more in regards to my current industry. Finding good talent is hard, but keeping them – at least in the environment I work in - is even harder.
It reminds me of when I once worked for a head hunting company that liked to give “value adds” to their clients. One of these value adds became a presentation on how to retain their top talent.
They proposed that the key to retention (and subsequently the name of the presentation) was Love, Money and Cookies.
Throughout a one-hour presentation my superiors would essentially tell our clients that top talent (no matter where they are in their career progression) need to feel loved, they need to be paid well and they need little extras like cookies.
Needless to say, we ALWAYS had hot fresh cookies delivered to our office at 4pm daily from the the bakery downstairs. They weren’t as good for my waistline as they were for my sugar deprivation at that time of day, but without a doubt I felt the love.
I also felt very early on in the launch of this presentation that this was pretty simple stuff we were promoting as intellectual property. In fact my grandmother has been doing it for ages.
I grew up knowing without a doubt that I was loved by my grandparents. It was unconditional and unquestionable. It wasn’t one of those things you were just expected to know, Grandma told us every chance she had.
She called us to tell us we were loved and thought of often.
She wrote us letters (real ones before the internet) to tell us she loved us and was looking forward to the next time we were able to visit.
When I was younger she would record cassette tapes of her reading a book complete with dinging a tea cup when it was time to turn the page. She would send the cassettes along with the book in the post and every night before bed I could listen to my grandmother read me a story. At the end of each cassette I remember her saying ”I love you a bushel and a peck”.
I will never forget her voice on those tapes or the dinging of her tea cup. But I also know now that it wasn’t the actual words “I love you” on the tape that let me know I was loved, it was of course the act of buying the book, recording her voice and sending it to me.
Grandma wanted us to know as we grew from babies to toddlers to teenagers to adults that we were loved and she found age-appropriate ways to tell us so we would always be sure.
Then came money.
I will never forget the first time I got a birthday cheque from my grandparents. It was for $50 and at the time it seemed like a HUGE amount of money. I wanted a doll. A special “Real Baby” doll, just like my friends had and Grandma and Grandpa wanted to make sure I had one.
When I was in University my grandmother would get up early in the morning to bake muffins and chocolate chip cookies and my favourite marshmallow peanut butter squares. When she was done her baking she and my grandfather would head to the post office and over-night the package. The next afternoon I was the most popular person in residence. Among the baked goods I was required to share with my floor-mates I always found a few extra necessity items like socks and hand cream and a cheque. There was almost always a cheque. The memo section would read “for your phone bill” or “for new winter boots” or “for spring break trip”. Though Grandma intended it to be ”for” something it was almost always just because.
My grandparents seemed to instinctively know when we might need a little help. Whether it was me, my siblings or my cousins, it was always the same. When we needed something my grandparents were always there.
My grandmother once sent me a cheque that appeared when I needed it the most and in the note that came with it she wrote “money doesn’t solve the problem but sometimes it makes it a little easier to get through”.
Then there are the cookies. There have always been cookies. Peanut butter, chocolate chip and shortbread are my favourites.
When gathering around the dinner table, without fail, my grandmother was always the last to sit down. She would be rushing around to make sure everyone had what they needed then she would take an extra few minutes while her dinner was getting cold to put cookies in the oven to warm.
We always have warm homemade cookies after dinner.
In fact, no matter what else was going on our lives we could always count on Grandma for Love, Money and Cookies.
It would seem then, that I’ve been well-programed through these years of love, money and cookies to retain the knowledge of who I am and where I come from and to know without a doubt that I am loved. Always.
Once again, my Grandma is clearly on to something.