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First USA Bank's approach to increasing employee retention and internal promotions centered on its Opportunity Knocks program.

September 6, 2001
The bank's approach to increasingemployee retention and internal promotions centered on its Opportunity Knocksprogram. It includes:

  • Get senior management involved.Opportunity Knocks has been successful in part because the HR team workedclosely with its management clients, consulting them at every stage of theprogram's development. As a result, HR not only benefited from management'sideas on how to improve the program, but also built support that was crucialto making it work in practice.

  • Align the career program with yourbusiness needs. Opportunity Knocks was designed specifically to servecompany goals-reducing attrition, increasing internal promotions, andimproving employee morale and job satisfaction.

  • Create a process, not just aprogram. Opportunity Knocks isn't just a class that employees take and thenforget about. It's a process that they can continue to follow as they moveup or around inside the company. The program organically encourages thatcontinued work, because it focuses on providing workers with tools andopportunities to use them rather than just motivational pep talks.

  • To build support, go back and showresults. In its business plan for the program, First USA's HR team lookedfor quantitative ways to measure the success of Opportunity Knocks and settangible, achievable goals. When the program met those marks, HR could showthe data to managers in the bank, and reinforce their commitment to theprogram.

  • Keep the program dynamic. FirstUSA's HR team uses surveys, focus groups, and individual interviews to studythe program's effect on employees. "We intend to keep reassessing whatwe're doing, and looking for ways to improve it," Brown says."It's important to keep focused on what people really need."