Panel Puts Focus on Worker Retention

The following article was originally published in the Greenwich Times on April 7, 2016. To view the original, please click here

frsaphoto1When he was being recruited to Pitney BowesGreg Karanastasis met with 14 employees.

Now the company’s vice president of global talent acquisition, Karanastasis has since streamlined the recruiting strategy and regularly asks himself: “How do we balance purposeful speed with getting it right?”

Karanastasis discussed recruitment, retention and management as part of a panel at Thursday’s Fairchester Recruiting Summit and Awards at theUniversity of Connecticut’s Stamford campus. The second annual event featured speakers and panelists who shared their insights and expertise on the ever-evolving worlds of recruiting and talent management.

Bruce Ennis, vice president of human resources at Bigelow Tea, and Jim Bertoluzzi, director of human resources at Tauck, were also on the panel.

Moderated by David Lewis, president and CEO of OperationsInc and, the panel, “Why They Stay,” concentrated on retention strategies utilized by some of the top firms in the United States. The panelists agreed that retention needs to multifaceted and focus on vetting candidates, as well as what happens after they’re hired.

Ennis, of Fairfield-based Bigelow Tea, which employs 330 people, said family plays a primary role in its retention strategy, citing its history as a third-generation tea company.

“In a company like Bigelow, it’s really important to have a culture driven by the family,” he said.

The panelists also discussed whether and how retention has changed over the last 10 years. For the 95-year-old Pitney Bowes, culture has become much more important, as well as investment in its people. Retention is tied to the real or perceived investment in its employees, Karanastasis said.

He cited the success of two targeted programs, Early in Career Development and Technical Ladder, as examples of how the company nurtures employee growth and gives them access to opportunities. The former targets employees with under 10 years of experience, while the latter helps employees grow their careers on a non-managerial path.

“As organizations become more and more flat, companies are looking for more innovative ways to think about development,” he said.

Pitney Bowes measures everything, he said, and it found a direct correlation between these development programs and retention rates.

For Bigelow Tea, first impressions are key. Once you decide to hire someone, Ennis said, make sure you keep the lines of communication open, whether that’s sending them a gift basket or letting them know you’re excited for them to start.

“Don’t let time fall flat between hire and start date,” he said. “You want that employee to go home and say ‘I made the right decision.’”

The Wilton-based travel company Tauck protects and invests in its company culture by treating its employees the same way it treats clients — and by getting a bit creative. Every December, for instance, the company employs local high school students to send holiday cards and wrap presents on behalf of employees; it’s the company’s busiest time of year. The best part? They only spend $750 annually on this project.

“You don’t have to spend a ton of money on these things,” Bertoluzzi said. “Retention is not about money, it’s about so many other things.”


Back to listing