What is employee retention?
Employee retention is simply the ability to keep your top talent within the organization using different approaches that increase their satisfaction at the company. High turnover is a costly affair that disrupts operations and can result in decreased company performance. Most companies have no proper employee retention strategies and the most commonly used strategy involves financial incentives.
A report by McKinsey & Company shows that it takes more than periodical salary increments and bonuses to keep the best employees committed for long. Of course, monetary incentives are part of the plan but these need to be mixed well with non-financial incentives in order to work. While coming up with a good strategy, it is advisable to look keenly at the people whose actions are critical to the business and not only focus on senior level managers.
It is the job of human resource and line managers to identify those employees who are critical to the organization’s core business and customize incentives to their aspirations. This approach works well as it does not apply a wide brush which does not work well for every employee. One-size-fits-all is a risky approach which does nothing in helping you keep the best. So, what are some of the strategies for keeping your most talented employees?
Be keen during your hiring process
Employee retention starts from the hiring stage. Once you get your hiring strategy in place, you are on your way to keeping the best.
During the hiring process, make sure you screen candidates and find those who best fit your company’s culture. So, know your culture and sell this to potential employees. This will help them know what they are getting into and allow you to have a detailed discussion that will enable you to know how well they can fit within your company. Great skills are only meaningful if they can fit within the organization’s culture and help it to grow.
If an employee cannot fit well within your culture, chances are that he/she will soon be out of the door and you will be back in the recruitment market sooner than expected. It is, therefore, your job to develop a great culture that defines the organization and attracts skilled people who can fit within your company.
Recognize and reward accomplishments
Perhaps one of the most effective and inexpensive ways of enhancing employee retention is acknowledging individual accomplishments and rewarding them accordingly. Recognition can take any form. Even a simple ‘thank you” or ‘well done’ shows that you acknowledge individual efforts and appreciate a person’s input.
Compliments boost morale and act as a form of feedback by showing your employees what they are doing right. When you pay someone a compliment he/she feels that you actually pay attention to their work and their efforts are not in vain. However, ensure that your compliments are genuine and timely.
Rewards also help to boost staff morale and increase their chances of staying in your company. You may also make monetary rewards part of your incentives for accomplished projects. You can also reward an employee by giving him/her more responsibilities or making him/her part of a team working on a key project.
Talented employees are not comfortable with staying in the same position all their lives and doing the same things all their lives. Promotions give them satisfaction as they show recognition for their work and give them new playing fields.
In line with rewards, gestures such as sponsoring employees to seminars, conferences, and training opportunities relevant to your industry, boost staff morale and increase their skills. This is helpful for the employee’s career progression and for your company as he/she earns implementable skills and networks which can be used to boost growth.
Listen to your employees
Some companies remain aloof and oblivious to the needs and welfare of their employees and this is discouraging and demoralizing. Pay attention to suggestions and give feedback. This makes people feel like they are part of the organization and not just cogs in the company’s wheel. Making employees an integral part of the business process promotes growth as they feel the need to constantly look for ways of adding value and creating change, which can actually promote growth.
Employees are no longer interested in just being part of the system. They want to make lasting contributions and this can only be possible when you listen to them. This means that you should make them part of the decision-making process as opposed to being mere implementers. Making employees part of the decision-making process makes them own decisions and enhances their commitment to the implementation process.
Listening also includes paying attention to what is happening in your employees’ private lives. Companies are now recognizing that the human resource is majorly made up of the human aspect of their employees. Be approachable. Start random, casual conversations aimed at finding out how employees are faring on in their private lives. Ask about the sick relative. Find out about how the kids are progressing in school. Ask your employees how they are doing and don’t focus on the work aspect only. This shows that you care and goes a long way in helping you to retain your employees as it humanizes them.
Give your employees a competitive remuneration package
As much as financial incentives are not the only way to enhance employee retention, a poor salary with little benefits will surely drive your employees away. Remember, people work so that they can afford their lives and if you do not pay your employees well, they will leave you for someone offering a bigger pay cheque.
Make your remuneration package competitive. Research on market rates and give your employees the best rates based on your company’s revenue. Offer benefits such as pension schemes and health insurance, based on your industry.
A competitive remuneration package is guided by skills and experience, position, demand and supply and location. Do a thorough market research and stay competitive by offering a good package, backed up by other employee retention strategies and watch your employee turnover go down.
Challenge your employees and develop their skills
High achieving people are continuous learners who never settle for good enough. They go ahead to become your company’s best talent and change agents. If you want to keep your best employees, you must provide growth opportunities and offer training in order to enhance their skills and help them grow in their careers.
Training keeps your employees abreast on market trends and increases their competitiveness in the industry. This is also good for your company as they get to implement great changes that will drive growth.
Challenges also offer opportunities to learn new things and acquire new skills. Involve your employees in new projects and give them the right environment and support to help them grow. This keeps them motivated and challenges them to keep improving their skills.
Challenges can also be in the form of new positions in the company which increase their responsibilities and push them out of their comfort zones. This also helps them rise in the organization, something that acts as a great incentive for employees to stay in the company.
Define goals and expectations for your employees. Be open and communicate clearly so that your employees know what is expected of them. Clarity enhances your employees’ ability to hit their targets as they are able to draw personal strategies that will enable them to achieve their targets.
It is important to have regular meetings or performance appraisals during which you discuss employee progress and expectations. Make this a discussion so that there is mutual sharing of information. This will enable the employee to let you know what he/she requires in order to achieve the expectations. This allows you to offer support, which lets the employees know that you are also committed to helping them achieve their targets and not just expecting them to give you results.
You should also be approachable so that you are able to offer any kind of support whenever needed. This fosters close working relationships, which enhance employee retention.
Support is also in the form of encouraging suggestions and giving feedback, which ensures that the employee is always part of the change process. Ensure that you also set achievable goals which do not lead to stress and chase away employees.
Create an enabling working environment
Every company has a culture which defines how employees relate with each other and with clients. A good culture is one that enables the free flow of ideas and makes the employees feel comfortable at work.
Create an environment that is enjoyable so that employees are motivated to come to work every day. Invest in a good office design that enhances creativity and interaction. This is part of the office culture and affects how employees feel while in the office. It enhances comfort so that employees are not stressed while at work.
A good culture is also free of victimization and allows talented employees to be creative. It also offers them challenges which keep them engaged. A good culture also makes employees feel like assets and not mere hands whose absence will not make a difference. If your employees do not feel like assets, they are bound to feel insecure in their jobs and move on to the next one whenever an opportunity arises.
Employee retention is not rocket science and does not have to be a difficult process. Start by hiring people who fit well within your organization and you will be on your way to retaining them and having them contribute to your company’s growth. Learn about each employee and identify what works for who, so that you can customize incentives that keep each employee on board.