Retaining key employees is critical to the long-term growth and success of every business. Studies show that employees who are engaged, empowered and capable of adding value are likely to stay with their employer for the long-term. These employees provide client-facing continuity and familiarity as well as institutional knowledge for products and operations. Alternatively, high turnover can greatly affect a company’s productivity and morale, not to mention the cost of replacement searches, training, and the overall disruption to team dynamics. Companies need to take an active role in fostering employee retention. Here are some things to consider:
Communicate effectively and often
Effective communication is crucial in any business setting. From the moment you begin onboarding an employee, review your company’s mission, vision and values and what they mean for employees and customers. Talk through how these relate to the expectations for their role, responsibilities, and overall team goals. Show your employees you value them and their experiences by being available for open, honest conversations. Schedule regular status meetings and general check-ins with each employee. Be flexible in your approach to each individual and determine the best way to achieve rapport. One employee may want or require more regular feedback and detailed discussions. Another may feel more comfortable with less frequent oversight and respond more favorably with right-to-the-point agenda items.
Pay attention to team dynamics
Make a continuous effort to assess the overall team vibe. What’s the emotional tone of the team and how are they getting along? Understanding how they interact and how they relate to one another will reveal ways to help them thrive. Create opportunities for your team members to learn and appreciate the personalities and communication styles of their co-workers. Help foster an environment appreciative of differences and talents in pursuit of team objectives and responsibilities. However, always be cognizant that one unreliable or disruptive person can drag the whole team down. Take action to keep the mix of personnel strong and make necessary changes required to keep your key employees productive.
Recognize and reward hard work
Employees need to be recognized for their hard work. Thoughtful gestures such as a “thank you” for staying late or finishing a project last minute have a large impact and show that you value their efforts. Emailed or even written notes of appreciation throughout the year go a long way. Getting the team out of the office for a group lunch or happy hour after a successful (or tough) week provides an opportunity for people to unwind and provide feedback about the job in a more relaxed setting.
And of course, compensation is always a major factor in retaining the best employees. Those who are underpaid usually know their own market rate, and they’re likely to respond to job advertisements or return a call from a recruiter. Check out local salary guides to compare your compensation model with others in your area. Perhaps you’re spot on with market rates, or you could find it’s time to reevaluate.
Encourage work-life balance
Every company needs to perform at the highest level for continued success. Product releases, system upgrades, service level commitments can all require dedication in the form of long days and extended mental energy. But no employee is happily burning the candle at both ends forever. In 2017, Kronos found that employee burnout was the biggest contributing factor sabotaging workforce retention. Assess the schedules and workloads of your team to keep your employees balanced and productive:
• What is the current work schedule like? How many hours are they working? Would a more flexible schedule or partial remote option be of benefit?
• How do they feel about their workload? Does one employee have too much and another too little? Is it time to add a new employee to the team? Review opportunities to redistribute projects or tasks to improve balance.
• Is their workspace set up for maximum efficiency? Take steps to create an area best suited for focus and collaboration.
Discuss advancement opportunities
Empower your employees by giving more responsibility to those who ask for it. Turn a high-performing team member into a team lead. Let them make day-to-day decisions and coach peers for success – it provides not only a boost in confidence but provides an opportunity to gain leadership skills before a formal promotion.
These days, outdated technology can be a detriment to employee retention. Behind-the-times software and other communication tools force employees to find alternate routes to complete daily tasks, often at the risk of lost documentation. To ensure that your tech tools are up to date and running smoothly, poll your team. What do they like about the current system? What would they change to make their jobs easier and more efficient? The team in the trenches knows best what is and isn’t working and gathering feedback can help find solutions that fit the team’s evolving needs.
Ask for feedback
What can you as a manager or the company in general, do to make the work environment the best it can be? Gather direct feedback from team members or conduct an anonymous survey so employees can be open and honest. Learning more about your employee’s motivations will provide clarity around what’s working and what needs to be addressed. Giving employees a voice and investing in their needs shows that your company cares and is committed to their well-being and long-term success. The best way to build loyalty is to invest in the people who work for you.
Often times, employees leave a company when they no longer feel connected to it. Reinvigorate your company’s mission to prevent turnover.