Even in a sagging economy, employers are at risk of losing dissatisfied employees. Now, as the economy makes a rebound and competition for the best talent heats up, retention of star employees becomes even more important. Below are six actions we’ve recommended to help you avoid going through the costly process of losing a knowledgeable, hardworking team member, finding his or her replacement and hiring and onboarding the new person.
Hire well. When you find the right fit in the first place—the employee who will excel in your company’s culture—that person is more likely to stick around. A good staffing-agency partner can be a big help here, assisting you in accurately defining your hiring needs and finding the ideal candidate. Many such agencies provide assessments that can give employers an in-depth preview of the candidate’s capabilities and characteristics. Finding a candidate whose profile matches that of a stellar employee already on staff can let you “clone” that right-hand person. The staffing agency can also set you up to “try before you buy” through a temp-to-perm arrangement.
Compensate competitively. Compensation isn’t the be-all and end-all for employee retention; workers are motivated by factors beyond pay and benefits. That being said, if your competitors or other local companies offer a better deal, your employees might be enticed to leave. Thus, compensation in the traditional sense is the bare minimum required to hang onto your best workers. This compensation includes fair salaries and/or hourly rates, insurance programs that promote employees’ health while protecting their financial assets and investment opportunities and bonuses that help meet monetary goals.
Embody integrity. Good people want to work for good people. If your employees see that integrity is at the core of your company’s culture, they gain a sense of pride and peace of mind in working there. Express integrity through actions that show honest, fair and respectful interactions with employees and customers and within the business community. Reinforce these values through internal and customer-facing communiqués.
Communicate transparently. Keep the lines of communication open between managers and front-line workers. Trust is an essential element of a healthy employment environment, and nothing erodes employees’ trust in their company’s management team like being kept in the dark. Stay ahead of office scuttlebutt by keeping team members at all levels informed of what is going on in the company. Know your employees’ “shoves” (factors that push your employees to the brink of departure) and “tugs” (factors that pull them into deeper engagement with the company). You can do this through anonymous surveys or frequent one-on-one check-ins with individual employees or monthly group meetings. The insight gained from communicating with team members illuminates areas for improvement and gives employers the opportunity to spot an unhappy employee well before he or she gives two weeks’ notice.
Lay out a path. Whether your company is a Fortune 500 or a mom-and-pop, most of your best employees are looking for a path to grow their careers. While large companies typically have pre-defined career ladders and formal advancement programs, smaller companies can offer a greater opportunity to wear many hats and to chart one’s own course. Supporting your employees’ career aspirations—promoting from within, providing training and education reimbursement and illustrating the alignment of the company’s goals with the individual’s—helps employees envision a future with you.
Provide perks! Build a sense of community and fun in the workplace through a charitable project, a sociable outing, a night on the town for a job well done, fresh fruit and bagels on Friday or an ongoing ping pong tournament. These activities let your team members know you appreciate them, and they help form the bonds that encourage employees to stick around.
As an employer, you invest significant resources into assembling the team that will keep your business running far and fast, now and in the future. By taking the appropriate actions to retain your employees, you protect that investment and avoid the cost, hassle, and hampered service/product delivery that high turnover brings.
Have you implemented any of the recommended actions we’ve presented to retain your best employees? What worked? Are there any others you’d add to the list?
Photo courtesy of giumaiolini, Flickr Creative Commons