As the challenge to recruit good employees increases, so does the need to retain current employees, moving it to the top of the agenda for many employers. Being proactive and targeted in your retention efforts can have a significant impact on keeping employees and increasing productivity. You’re not helpless from stopping employees from looking for happiness outside the organization. How you treat your employees can have a direct impact on your retention and the future with the company.
Managers often get bogged down in the day to day operations and assume that unless problems are being raised, all must be good with their employees. Unfortunately, this line of thinking can lead to unhappy and disengaged employees. “Few leaders succeed without great talent supporting them. So, retaining star employees is not only good for the company, but also for the leader.” (Harvard Business Review, Tip of the Day, March 2011) Managers who trust their team and give their employees the opportunity to use their unique skills and strengths build strong teams that are challenged and empowered to make an impact on the organization. These employees are more engaged and buy into the mission of the organization. Continuing the circle, they are happier and more likely to stay. All this reflects positively on the manager and directly impacts retention.
Beyond challenging your employees, communication is also crucial to retention. Organizations that focus on communication see tremendous benefits in employee morale and retention. Open communication keeps everyone informed, builds trust, and shows respect for employees and their individual needs. Checking in daily with employees may seem like hand holding, but can do wonders for ensuring ongoing communication. Managers should try to connect with employees on a regular basis but, at the same time, be mindful not to micromanage their work.
With happiness and morale being a key driver to retention, other methods to increase morale include rewards and recognition. While research shows that employees don’t always care about money, a little recognition and a sincere “thank you” can go a long way. In fact, it is often the little things that have the biggest impact. Spot recognition awards can be a highly effective way to reward and recognize employees for their hard work and achievement.
Trying to maximize employee satisfaction and therefore increasing the odds of keeping the best and brightest talent should be leadership’s top priority.
In Re-Engage: How America’s Best Places to Work Inspire Extra Effort, in Extraordinary Times, Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfeld, discuss the six drivers which top rated employers use to inspire employees towards increased engagement. Based on the premise that happy employees stay, this higher level of engagement results in increased retention. Below is a brief description of the six drivers:
- Caring and Engaging Leaders – It’s easy to give this lip service, but truly caring and engaging leaders make a difference when it comes to retention. When leaders ask employees for feedback they should listen and answer honestly. Being honest and upfront is vital to being caring and engaging.
- Effective Management – Managers who are able to be honest with their employees and give constructive feedback contribute to engagement and retention. Effective managers treat their employees fairly and equitably to ensure every employee feels heard, while also aligning their work with the goals of the organization.
- Teamwork – Effective teams are the result of individual members working for the success of the group. Good teams don’t subscribe to the “us versus them” philosophy and are happy to work towards a common goal.
- Enrichment and Professional Growth – As stated previously, growth and opportunity can make a big difference in retaining employees. As employees are challenged they become more engaged and excited to work towards the company goals.
- Valuing Contributions – By including employees in companywide initiatives or campaigns to create new products or services, organizations can build loyalty and engagement. Additionally, rewards and recognition can help an employer show that they value the contributions of their employees.
- Compassion – Companies, which show compassion to their employees, pay attention to workload and show genuine concern for their employee’s overall well being. This compassion may be in the form of flexible work schedules or teams, or simply through the acknowledgement of going above and beyond, but serve to make employees feel valued and appreciated.
Creating an environment of trust, support, communication and happy employees doesn’t happen overnight. Begin with small steps and work towards achieving your ultimate goal – retaining your employees!