Top 5 Elements of Employee Retention

July 18, 2019 Theresa Edwards

It’s well known that employee turnover can be costly. High attrition rates are expensive no matter how you come at the numbers, whether you’re looking only at the expense associated with hiring and training regular replacements or mapping the long-term fiscal consequences of low morale and the productivity nosedive that accompanies it.

Keeping employees is often a matter of keeping employees engaged, an end to which there is no shortage of suggested means. These range from the well-intentioned but vague (fair compensation) to the gimmicky, flavor-of-the-month trend perks (on-the-clock naptime and unlimited PTO).  Your employees are adults. They expect to be fairly compensated, and all of the paid naps in the world won’t get them to stay if you haven’t put real effort into cultivating and implementing a workplace they want to be a part of. So how can you meet your retention goals?

1. Training

Employers who use training to offer opportunities to advance have a simple, effective way to increase employee engagement and motivation. When employees have no choice but to jump ship when to achieve upward mobility, you can expect them to do exactly that. On the other hand, if they have a clear path forward in their position, department and company, the message you send your people is that you’re willing to invest in their future. This makes them more likely to extend the same investment to your company. Having transparent and actionable career pathways, offering cross-departmental and leadership training and providing opportunities for continuing education at work will eliminate a sense of limbo and keep your employees motivated to stay.

2. Benefits

For benefits to accurately represent company culture, they must authentically represent values that everyone in the company shares. When you’re just beginning to create a benefits package or revamping a current one, it can be tempting to buy into some of the trendier, flashier perks that have been making the rounds. Consider unlimited vacation time. Big, edgy brands like Netflix and Kickstarter made the perk popular, and now those same companies are beginning to roll them back. Why? Because it didn’t work. Instead of making employees focus on the quality of the time they put into work or allowing workers to take a guilt-free productivity-enhancing break when needed, it made employees more likely to work on those paid vacations, paranoid that they looked like slackers.

It’s much more worthwhile to examine what matters to your company and the people that comprise its culture and build a benefits package that accurately represents those needs. If your aim is providing your employees a sense of balance between work and home, they’re more likely to ask for flexible scheduling or a comprehensive daycare package than a vague, anxiety-inducing vacation policy.

3. Motivation

Recognizing and rewarding success is one of the simplest ways to retain employees. Wanting our hard work to be acknowledged is about as basic and universal as it gets when it comes to what we expect from our employers.

This recognition can take the form of a formalized rewards system, like yearly, quarterly, or monthly awards for hitting certain production or performance benchmarks, but they should go beyond that, as well. Monetary bonuses aren’t the only way to recognize hard work, and smaller tokens of appreciation can be an excellent way to personalize the kudos that keep teams motivated. If you’ve spent the time to get to know and understand the people who work from you, then you know already which things will motivate the high achievers to keep striving and what will encourage the employees who have room to improve and grow. Maybe these tokens come in the form of prizes, or extra time off or an employee of the month parking space.

The key takeaway? What often motivates employees is a sense of belonging that comes from an authentic company culture they feel like they are a part of.

4. Culture

You should view creating and fostering that culture as an investment that will keep employees engaged and facilitate a sense of shared ownership. This investment will ultimately help you meet your retention goals and impact your bottom line by providing long-term ROI. Taking the time to listen to your employees and understand what they need in a working community is what will get you there: what’s important to the people who work for you?

Be sure to clearly state the core values of your company and then work hard to live them every day. It’s common for companies to tout lofty ideals like empathy, innovation, and growth as their values, but less common to see them in action. Making sure that you have clear, actionable ways to live your stated values as a team will create a company culture that’s authentic and encourages a sense of ownership in the employees you’re hoping to retain. If all of this sounds like a tall order, simplify it: if you want your talent to stay, make your company a place worth staying for.

5. Listening

You have a secret weapon already on hand when it comes to retention. Your employees have valuable insight that you need. How are you collecting it? If you want to know what you’re doing right – and what needs improvement – you start by listening. Given the opportunity, your employees will tell you what they need. It could be that your employees feel they could benefit from more training or better tools. Perhaps they need a better work-life balance or have an idea that they’d like to see implemented. Having channels for communication that are open and readily available is the most effective way to engage your team in conversation. Make sure your employees know how to access these channels, and then follow up! A leader who serves is one who puts the needs of others first and helps them develop and perform at the highest possible level.

The first step is listening and the second is empowerment.

Ready to implement a culture that will retain top talent? Download our eBook: Investing in Your People: Gain Workplace Efficiency by Focusing on the Needs of Your Team.

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