Keys to High Employee Retention and Job Satisfaction

Stacy Violett, Software, UB Software Development Lead – 20 yrs at BMS

What’s the big deal about employee retention? Though it’s hard to project the exact numbers, it is estimated that employee turnover costs employers anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5 to two times the employee’s annual salary in direct and indirect costs. Some of the costs associated with the loss of an employee include:

  • Cost of hiring a new person
  • Time cost and direct cost of training a new employee and getting them up to full capacity
  • Loss of productivity
  • Lower employee morale
  • Lower customer service
  • More errors

After recently celebrating the 20 year anniversaries of Jayne Devlin, BMS Accounting Installation Manager, and Stacy Violett, BMS Utility Billing Software Development Lead,  we thought, “what better time to talk about retention than now?”

What does it take to hire and retain quality employees? Each employee has a different perspective of what matters to them most when it comes to a desirable work environment,

Jayne Devlin, Finance Installation Manager – 20 yrs at BMS

but there are some common factors that are directly correlated to high employee retention. Among them: compensation, job fit, opportunity, work environment, and sense that their contributions matter.


While compensation is important, lack of competitive compensation may be overlooked by an employer that rates highly in the other desirable factors. The key to employee retention is a compensation package that is mid-level.  Too little compensation will send employees searching for new employment, but on the inverse, high compensation will not make up for an unpleasant work environment.

Job Fit.

Attracting and retaining the right employees for the right jobs is key to employee satisfaction. Being able to effectively reflect the job duties in a job description, and hiring accordingly ensures a good job fit. Good help is easy to find, if you know what you are looking for. Pat Cook, BMS County Support Specialist, knows exactly how important job fit is: two of her previous employees have made their way back to BMS to work alongside Pat once again. Says Pat, “People skills are something that is hard to teach–the way Mindy and Debbie work with people is a skill set they came prepared with.” It’s also something they keep for life.  “When I worked with Mindy before, I would hear her on the phone and her attitude, friendliness, and willingness to grow was apparent.”

Job fit is a big focus for BMS, and one that differentiates BMS from other software companies.  Many of the BMS employees are former clerks, treasurers, and city/county staff.  Having “a lot of expertise on staff (former clerk, treasurer, CPA, etc.)” makes a difference, because it bridges “the gap between the software developers and the clerks to understand what will work for them,” says Jayne.


Most of us still have a while left before retirement, so the opportunity to grow, learn, achieve, and reach further compensation is increasingly important. This is particularly true for the millennial generation.  However, while many local governments, utilities, and municipalities are restricted by the amount of compensation and seniority given to a new hire, there are other options for providing employees with “opportunities” including: more freedoms and flexibility, training opportunities, education compensation, cross-training, and increasing responsibilities.

Jayne agrees that opportunity is a factor that’s kept her around.  Says Jayne, “I joined BMS because it gave me an opportunity to be challenged.  That hasn’t changed in the 21 years I’ve been involved.” Stacy adds, “Since the very first day on the job, I have had a thought process running in my mind that keeps me in tune with days coming in the future.  My position has changed and evolved to cover and respond to many different areas and aspects of our business over the years.  This keeps me in a constant mode of learning, researching and thinking about better ways to do things.  Software development can have challenges and rewards in itself and is very thought provoking.”

Work Environment and Corporate Culture.

Recognition, leadership, trust, management, and team environment all play a huge role in employee happiness, making it one of the most important factors of employee retention.  There is a saying, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”  Sadly, despite all other efforts made by a company, if an employee is mismanaged, they are more likely to leave their job. The key to managing employees is making sure they are being adequately utilized, appreciated, trusted, and included. You know your company has accomplished this when your workers, much like Jayne, would miss the people–staff and clients–the most if ever they had to leave.

Sense of Value.

Feeling that the work they perform every day is valuable and necessary is directly correlated with job satisfaction. A sense of value, service, or helping another is instant gratification for employees and helps them feel like what they do is necessary and important. In the case of BMS, value comes from each person feeling as though they have a stake in the future of the company.  Says Stacy, “If part of what you earn is based on a job well done, I believe good results will be produced by the group as a whole.  This helps employees build confidence, a sense of ownership and faith in the company.”

High turnover is a symptom, not a disease. If your office is plagued with high turnover, there is an opportunity to look at what pieces of your work environment may be contributing to low employee retention.  If, on the other hand, your office is full of highly-retained, long-term employees, congratulations! You have showered your employees with the right combination of compensation, job fit, opportunity, work environment, and value.

Both Stacy and Jayne have weighed the benefits and satisfaction of their careers at BMS, and we are thrilled they have determined BMS is the right place for them to spend 20 years.  Says Stacy, “The people and daily atmosphere of the job make BMS a great place to work.  Everything is an opportunity: problems presented, solutions created and the ability to lobby and influence good business decisions.”

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