This is an alarming hypothetical for any employer, especially when factoring in the cost of hiring and training new workers. A 2017 report by Access Perks revealed that, of employees surveyed, 34% admitted that they were planning to leave their current job within the next 12 months. The report (which cited Mercer’s 2017 Talent Trends Global Study) should serve as a stark reminder of the value of employee retention strategies. Employees who do not feel fulfilled or appreciated in their current work environment are likely to seek out an entirely new position—one that gives them the validation that they crave. On the other hand, employees who feel as though their employer truly values the work they do and their contributions to the business are much more likely to stick around.
In 2014, a Watson Wyatt survey found that more than 80 percent of employers chose to use wage increases to keep their employees. While this may be a viable strategy, it is not always an option for small businesses. But there are seven fantastic strategies and practices that can help increase retention without emptying your payroll budget. In fact, the right practices can be just as effective as wage increases and benefits, making it possible for a business of any size to retain the crucial employees they need to succeed.
Hire with Care
When your business is just starting out, you are an army of one, capable of handling every single aspect of your business on your own. However, with success comes more responsibilities, a growing client list and the need for expansion. Employee retention begins during the job interview process and while a good first impression is important, it is not the key to keeping your new employees on the payroll.
To say it bluntly, the employee is the only person who can decide whether they stay or go at the end of the day, and you may do everything right and still see them leave.
It is thus important that you do what you can to influence the employee’s side of the equation from the start of the hiring process. If you wait until afterwards, you are likely to find yourself out of time.
It may seem obvious that you should use the skills of your employees to your advantage, but your employees may not feel as if you are utilising them to their fullest potential. Study after study has confirmed that employees want to feel as if they are succeeding and that their unique abilities and capabilities are being utilised in a way that influences your business. When employees feel that their work with you is accomplishing this goal, they not only develop a sense of belonging but also a greater sense of loyalty to your business. It is not enough to give simple feedback. Instead, show them the tangible results of their good work whenever possible, as it is easier to feel pride in something concrete.
Understand the Balance Between Life and Work
Your employees are as human as you are, and they need to feel as if work is not the only aspect of their identity. To keep them operating at maximum efficiency and avoid the development of resentment toward your business, you need to do what you can to help them achieve a balanced life in and out of work. Although a small business just getting started may not be able to avoid dishing out long hours, you can still take steps to ensure no one must do so without adequate rest in between. Consider utilising scheduling software to keep track of hours and overtime. With this, you can follow who has worked too many or too few hours each week and you can help your employees find the right balance between work and life away from the office. Finding that balance may be tricky and require some adjustments along the way, but it can make a huge difference toward improving workplace atmospheres and employee productivity.
It Starts with You
Although you likely already do this, be sure to strive for excellence in everything you do as a business, especially when it comes to handling the competition. People want to work for the businesses that are at the top of the heap, and your retention should increase alongside your success. Not only will your success promote employment longevity throughout your company, it will also instil a sense of pride in the people that work under your name. Take the time to define what sets you apart from the competition, such as excellent client care or unparalleled quality in your products. Whatever makes you great, makes your employees great, too.
Give Them Opportunities
Your employees are already great at what they do and while training to improve their skills is great, you may not be doing everything you can for them if you choose not to expand their opportunities. Consider areas in which you can offer employees cross-training, or you may find success through mentorship programs. By creating a pathway to greater opportunities, you give your employees the chance to learn skills that may move them up in your business. Great employees want to advance in your business wherever they can, and you need to ensure they have that chance.
More than an Open Door
“Open door” policies may be great, in theory, but many employees may still fail to come forward with their feedback and criticism for fear of reprimands or embarrassment. Reprisal may not be a serious threat with an open-door policy, but this policy is not always effective enough on its own to get employees talking. Consider engaging with your employees whenever you can, such as by learning the names of the people you deal with directly or indirectly in the office. You do not have to become best friends with any of them, but knowing the boss knows your name can mean a great deal to an employee that feels otherwise invisible. By inviting open engagement with your employees, you give them the peace of mind they need to come forward when they need to.
Watch Your Workplace Leaders
As much as you might want to believe your managers are your best employees, they can often be the real reason employees quit. One employee out of 100 choosing to quit is not necessarily due to an overseer, but multiple instances clustered together over a short period of time may indicate a problem with your management. The satisfaction of an employee has been found through various surveys to directly correlate with the impression given by a manager. By keeping your management positions filled by highly trained executives that promote positive work environments, you increase employee retention dramatically.
Employee retention is not something that can be handled with just one strategy or in your free time. Any business looking to gain true success must consider this issue as important as spreading its brand, and doing it right can make a huge difference. Consider your work environment a direct reflection of your company. If you succeed in the workplace, you are likely to succeed outside of it, too.