Strategy, vision and steadfast determination are a vital part of a business’s success. But never make the mistake of forgetting that it’s the employees that make it what it is.
Employees are the conduits through which your business’ vision and strategy are realised. And if you don’t make efforts to retain them, they could easily cross the road to join your competitors. What’s more… they know it! Research carried out a few years ago by Glassdoor revealed that 53% of employees felt confident that they could find a similar position within half a year if they lost or quit their current job.
If you don’t like those numbers, it’s time to get serious engagement and start paying attention to these employee retention trends…
1. Offer training and development
Having a workforce that’s stagnating and frustrated doesn’t create a workplace environment that promotes productivity and growth. Why would you want to be part of a company that let talent go to waste without proper training and development?
Yet so many business owners fail to invest in an ongoing programme of training and professional development for their employees. If you leave training at the onboarding phase, you can never hope to keep getting the most out of your team.
Employees are more likely to truly engage with your brand and your business when they feel valued as people beyond their discrete role in your company operations. Training and development show them that you value them and want to help them achieve their career goals.
Yes, training can be expensive. Yes, it can be disruptive. Yes, it can take key players off the board for hours or even days at a time. But if your workforce departs in droves because you’re keeping them from their full potential, you could face much greater costs and disruption in the long term as you scramble to replace them.
2. Have stay interviews and check in with employees
Despite your best efforts to create a workplace that’s highly conducive to employee satisfaction, it’s inevitable that employees will want to leave your operation at some point. While many businesses carry out exit interviews to try and turn an employee’s departure into a learning experience, comparatively few use these interviews as an opportunity to retain the employee.
If an employee expresses a desire to leave, it may be for a reason that’s within your power to rectify. Might it cost you a little money? Maybe. But typically less than losing, recruiting, hiring and training a replacement.
A stay interview can help you to ascertain whether there’s any chance of retaining an employee. Ask them about the aspects of their job they enjoy and which they actively dislike. In what way do they feel under-utilised, bored or like their skills are wasted? What do they have in mind for their career later down the line? Do they feel that you could do more to facilitate that? What would they change about the job if they could?
You might not necessarily like the answers but if you’re serious about employee retention, they may be well worth listening to.
3. Encourage a work/life balance
You want your employees to work hard. But there really is such a thing as working too hard. Longer working hours and more time spent at their desks aren’t necessarily helpful to employee productivity. Indeed, there’s evidence to suggest that fewer working hours and employers actively encouraging a better work/life balance increases productivity.
You stand to gain nothing from working your employees to exhaustion. Instead, focus your efforts and attention on how you can allow employees to be happier, healthier and more fulfilled inside and outside of work. There are a number of ways you can do this, including:
Flexible working hours
Sure, it takes a little coordination, but if you can make it work, employees will be all the more relaxed, motivated and ready to do great things for you. When employees have a little extra time to pick their kids up from school or hit the gym before the peak time rush, they feel far more valued. What’s more, they’re likely to be less stressed, thinking clearly and ready to give you their all.
In the digital age, more and more businesses are embracing the idea of letting their employees work remotely from home on a part-time or full-time basis. This saves them the stress of that bitter Monday morning commute and helps them to make plans around their life commitments, not their working commitments. What’s more, it helps to reduce your business’s carbon footprint and even reduces your overhead costs. Everybody wins.
More paid holidays
Again, while more paid holidays can potentially lead to more upfront expenditure, a look at the bigger picture reveals that more paid holidays can improve employee productivity. It can even lead employees to be brighter, happier and more ready to show you what they can do when they return.
And your customers will notice.
When you afford your team a better work/life balance, they get more done, find their work more rewarding and make the workplace a more enjoyable space in which to spend your days.
4. Implement an employee recognition scheme
While all businesses should be conscious of their overheads, acknowledging and celebrating employee achievements needn’t cost the Earth. While reward schemes can be used to great effect to motivate employees to hit targets, most of the time employees don’t necessarily want expensive baubles.
They want recognition. Employers underestimate how much their employees just want to be appreciated amongst their peers.
There’s evidence to suggest that they’re more likely to stay with you when you implement a formal plan to recognise and celebrate their good work. Companies that implement employee recognition programmes enjoy 31% lower voluntary turnover rate.
Using digital tools to help recognise employees
Of course, the logistics of managing such a programme in a way that’s comprehensive and all-encompassing can be a head-scratcher. This is why many businesses use digital tools like employee recognition platforms. These apps look and work very much like the social platforms employees are used to using, but encourage positive communications and peer to peer recognition, as well as giving you a platform to share your employees’ accomplishments. Some can also be linked to reward programmes if you want to give employees more tangible rewards, such as extra time off.
Using these platforms regularly and encouraging employees to spend time using them can go a long way towards creating the kind of workplace culture that all employers want to perpetuate. One that celebrates achievement, allowing team members to congratulate one another in meaningful ways.
This keeps employees feeling happy, engaged and motivated… and when employees feel this way, they’re more likely to stick around.