As the economy improves and hiring heats up, some employers fear losing their best workers to greener pastures. Your top performers may entertain offers with higher salaries than you can afford to offer, but luckily, not all retention strategies require a major financial investment. Here are some cost-effective ways for improving retention.
The first and often most effective thing employers should do to keep their top performers from jumping ship is simply showing them how valued they are. “There is nothing more motivating and inspiring than when an executive commends an employee in front of the entire company. It shows employees that their work is not going unnoticed,” says Peter Schwartz, PR consultant with HR solutions provider Insperity.“While teamwork is important, individual recognition presents an opportunity for the person behind the scenes to receive special kudos for an outstanding contribution.”
Monthly or quarterly awards are the most common ways to shine a light on high performers in the organisation, and while cash prizes are great, some companies may choose to get a little more creative. “Special perks, such as designated parking, an award plaque or lunch with an executive, can make this even more enticing to employees. Announcing winners during a company meeting and highlighting the employees in the company newsletter is a great way to honour them,” Schwartz adds.
Next to salary, nothing tops work-life balance in terms of employee satisfaction. That makes it your best weapon in the fight to keep your top talent. Allowing and even encouraging employees to take advantage of a flexible schedule is an easy and cost-effective way to show them their life outside of the office matters.
“Workplace flexibility is attractive for many employees and can help to reduce the number of unscheduled absences,” says Tara Wolckenhauer, division vice president, human resources at ADP Small Business Services. “If it's a fit for your business, consider flexible options such as working from home or compressed workweeks.”
The team that parties together
A company party may not be free, but when done right it’s an affordable option for boosting morale and team cohesion in a non-work environment. “Budget constraints do not always mean companies have to forgo the annual holiday party,” says Schwartz. “Planning events further in advance can help businesses secure better deals. If an off-site party is too costly, consider a small get together onsite that includes spouses and simple appetisers or desserts.”
It may seem counterintuitive, but giving your top workers more difficult projects can actually help convince them to stay. High achievers thrive on a challenge and will often fly the coop when they feel like there’s nothing left for them to accomplish. “If your employees are bored, you have failed. If you are bored you do not produce,” says William Hall, vice president of learning and development at Simulation Studios, a professional training and coaching firm that produces custom business simulation and serious game solutions. “The idea is epitomised by Steve Jobs. Jobs said in a Stanford commencement speech, ‘…for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.’”
Many top performers are driven by an urge to make a difference and be a part of something bigger. If they start to feel like they aren’t working towards or achieving a larger goal in their current position, they’ll often start to look elsewhere. In order to keep the company’s mission fresh in employees’ minds, employers should invite their employees to participate in high-level brainstorming and strategy sessions on a regular basis.
Take-home pay is only one part of what employees look for in a job, but salary alone isn’t enough to keep them happy and productive. By keeping your employees engaged and involved in the business, offering them challenging work, and recognising their valuable contributions, you’ll stand a good chance against higher-paying competitors.