“Employee Retention” is a phrase usually bounced around departmental meetings and Human Resources after a key employee has left. Commonly, companies feel that a good employee retention strategy consists of increased compensation, bonuses, and additional benefits. What better way to keep people happy and motivated than by increasing the cash that they work for, right? But is that really the best strategy for retaining top notch employees in the long run?
What exactly is employee retention and why is it important?
Keeping employees interested, engaged and motivated to stay with a company for the long run is often the most base definition of employee retention. Not losing your star player to that dreaded competitor should be an ongoing process, not just a once-a-year activity. A majority of companies employ the strategy previously mentioned in attempts to keep employees healthy, happy, and able to work comfortably. But having a more evolved retention strategy is critical to avoid turnover — it saves you not just money, but time, training and resources. Even if employees aren’t leaving, keeping them motivated and engaged to remain with the company in a progressive manner can be difficult.
So what’s the problem?
One of the largest problems that we commonly hear about is that retention strategy decisions are frequently made behind closed doors, while the employees are sitting outside in cubical-land. The people who matter are not consulted nor listened to. In addition, increased compensation and benefits have a limited reach. If the job is unsatisfactory but the promise of some sort of compensation presents itself, the motivation only lasts for a week or two after the compensation is provided. Even key employees will leave a job that doesn’t provide satisfaction and opportunity – and money does not necessarily mean increased job satisfaction. Furthermore, piling on benefits and bonuses is not sustainable for the employer, as continual increases in wage or bonuses can’t be made every time an employee seems unhappy.
What does a real employee retention strategy look like?
The development of a strong and successful employee retention strategy doesn’t start behind closed doors, it starts with the employees. Ask them what they want, what will keep them happily working for you, and what else you can do to keep them. Here are a few points to consider:
Something as simple as walking through the office each morning and saying hello can show employees that they are valued and not just a name on a placard. Showing recognition for project success, training efforts, and daily work improvements and progression is important too. This can be done in a simple email, a quick conversation, note, or any other way of appropriately giving praise. Even recognition in the form of constructive critiques and identifying areas that need improvement will demonstrate that you care and want them to succeed.
If you asked each of your employees what type of opportunities they would like to be involved in, chances are that most of them will say nothing or at least very little about monetary compensation. Whether or not someone takes a job for a mere paycheck, when given the chance to learn more and have the chance for mobility in the company, they will likely take it. Provide additional training; team development; opportunities for lateral movement and vertically up the ladder; and particularly aim to allow autonomy and employee control within their respective role.
Perhaps one of the most important parts of a strong employee retention strategy is ensuring that your employees are doing meaningful work. If no one understands how their piece of the puzzle fits into the grand scheme of the company’s goals and current state, then the meaning of the day-to-day tasks gets lost. If management teams and departments regularly communicate status updates with their employees and how they are contributing, then employees will have a sense of value to the project and company.
This part of an employee retention strategy can be one of the most crucial elements to retaining top notch employees. There’s probably a specific set of reasons that someone applied to a company, and it likely has something to do with their aspiring career goals. For example, laboratory technicians might want to work for a pharmaceutical company to discover new medicines. The options of reasons why someone wanted to work at a company are endless, but allowing an employee to thrive within their designated position can help them achieve their own goals. Facilitate careers — don’t just fill roles.
Images of cubicles, big corner offices, and little kitchens are the trend when thinking of an office. While this is usually true, there often needs to be more than blue paneled cubicle walls to keep a healthy work environment. Allow employees to decorate for the holidays, or fill someone’s office up with balloons and streamers for their birthday. Working in a professional but fun and relaxed environment can be vastly more beneficial to better health, efficiency and quality of work than a sterile (sterile laboratories and science industries not included), dull workplace.
When an employee does not feel that their work is meaningful, that they don’t have opportunities for development, and when they don’t feel recognized as more than a name on a cubicle, it is no wonder that money and benefits alone are not motivation enough to stay. Discussing with new and current employees the things that would keep them for the long run can be beneficial for management teams and Human Resource departments to keep a pulse on the health of their company. Performing exit interviews with those who have decided to resign can also be helpful to get an idea of what you can do for others that may not have been presented to the resigning employee.
This is not to discount that giving motivational incentives like the occasional bonus or promotion is a bad thing. Adding benefits to the list of services your company provides can definitely help keep them happy and provide them with things which a full time job might make difficult to come by. Some services might include on-site dry cleaning, day care or car washes, discounted movie tickets, company outings and lunches, and company assigned devises (like iPads for meetings).
Filling roles won’t keep top notch employees coming back to work every morning. Planning and helping to build careers will though. Purpose driven goals and a feeling of autonomy are important and can increase employee satisfaction, job performance and projected ROI.
Southern California employers in industries from accounting and finance, healthcare, science, engineering, to technical and administrative industries can contact Innovative Career Resources to get qualified, skilled, and education candidates on their team today. These future employees and contractors are willing to start their careers with a fun and successful company, and Innovative will find out for you what makes these candidates want to stay for the long run, and ensure candidates are going to be a great fit for your company goals.