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Altitude, Activity, Alcohol, Size(?) and Seasonal Employee Retention--Draft

OK...I sometimes think a bit too much.

I have been working on this in my head for a couple of seasons.  Just have to get some of it down, it's getting to cluttered in there.  I would like some input and not all from personal experiences.  References to actual scientific and social scientific works would be nice too.  For or against...it's just an intellectual exercise.

I have been at seasonal workplaces where the employee turnover rate during and between seasons is very low...and places where they are very high.  Just trying to work out the reasons. First two, I have kind of put aside...but it's early.

Management.  I guess I will consider it.  But I tend to believe it's a minor affect.  Employees overall view of the season tends to be much more related to smaller direct co-worker interaction, both on the job and off...could be different sets.  I agree, an especially poor mid-level manager might have a detrimental affect to one season...but I would not put that in the same category as 'Management'.

Pay/Housing/Meals.  I believe there is little affect during the season.  With the exception of those employees that were searching for just any job, and will continue to search for that better paying job.  It's a factor, but not any more or less than similar jobs in the "real world."  It might have an affect on between, or returning employees...though..not at all fixed on a position here.

Altitude.  Below 5000, 5000+, 7000+, Above 8000.  Especially if you consider that the first factors of altitude sickness are melancholy and irritableness.  There is a belief that you adjust to altitude.  I personally do not believe you can do this.  I am in search for scientific evidence.  I sometimes use an analogy to a person with somewhat less than good uncorrected eyevision.  If they lose or break their corrective lenses, they can for a time function and function well without them.  As time goes by, they might believe that they can go without getting replacements.  Until they do, and see the big difference clearly.

Activity.  A huge affect.  But which activity matters more...or are they the same.  Employer directed activity.  Spontaneous, or planned, individual or small group activity.  Off site...and I would include ski resorts where sometimes housing is not at or the resort.  On-site.  Many parks are very large...not sure where to draw the on-site/off-site line.

Alcohol.  Most people would point to this huge factor.  I would easily agree on an alcohol/no alcohol factor in many individual cases.  I tend to believe an absolutely dry policy would be NO better in most places.  My personal experience tells me that the place I have been with the highest and lowest in season turnover rates...the overall alcohol use was very similar.  Perhaps it's how alcohol is mixed in with all the other factors?

Size.  Under 25, 25-100, 100-250, 250-500, 500-1000, 1000+ employees.  I'm pulled in two different directions.  One direction says it affects everything, so it must...the other direction shouts that it usually means multiple levels of management and nothing else.

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Comment by Brendan on April 5, 2012 at 12:37am

I was waiting for others to make a response to prevent me from rambling on about this one.  Since no one else has bitten, I'll lend a few thoughts. 

Cultural anthropology is a very interesting field of study, and is significant to your queries, most specificly in regards to "etics" and "emics."  These refer to "in group" and "out group" rules of social dynamics, which vary from culture to culture.  If the culture of the company significantly clashes with the culture of one's origin, it is not likely they will stay long.  Either that or they will become reclusive to some extent.  That is where alcohol or other substances may come into play, as it would be used as a coping mechanism.  I could go on quite a bit about this, but I'll stop there to see if this is an avenue of discussion you are interested in pursuing.

In regards to altitude, yes, to some extent, the body adjusts.  Something called the VO2 max is a factor.  The short version is, the body does increase the oxygen saturation levels in your blood after prolonged residency at high elevation.  This is why athletes will goto the mountains to train, as it gives them an edge when they return to lower elevation.  The higher oxygen saturation gives them an edge, and it's readjustment is a slow process.  One's age and general health is also a factor.  The younger one is, or the healthier one is, the more expeditious this process is.  Also, if you've spent the majority of your life at low elevation, the more difficult this process will be, the lower you were. Some people never fully adjust due to the difference in the myriad pysiological factors that vary from one person to the next.  It's difficult to quantify due to the immense set of data involved, but sure, if someone feels sick all the time due to the elevation, they surely won't stay.

Again, I tend to ramble on, so I'll stop there...not sure if this is the kind of response you were looking for or not.

Comment by Keith Larson on March 29, 2012 at 7:42pm

While I'm thinking of it...I'm going to adjust something in the alcohol section.  The place where there was the lowest turnover rate had the highest alcohol consumption.  But that might just be an anomoly of my personal experience.

Comment by Keith Larson on March 26, 2012 at 12:19pm

Forgot to enter an important factor.  Employee retention itself, is a factor in employee retention.  I believe in a 'snowball' affect.  The change of that core co-worker group, the change of workloads, the overall drama.  I haven't seen any confirmation numbers, but I tend to believe that in percentage of first season workers the turnover rate is less at places where returning employee rates are high...and first season employee turnover is high at places where returning employye rates are low.  I believe this is an affect within itself, not just similar reactions to other factors.

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