There are many reasons employee retention should be a top priority for any business. Of course, you want to keep your top employees satisfied, so they continue their inspired work and help your company thrive. Plus, good employees who like their employer more often refer top-notch professionals to your organization.
But employee retention is more than that. Between putting out job listings, juggling paperwork, interviewing, and onboarding, there is a lot of time, money, and effort that goes into hiring new employees. All that distracts you from getting other work done.
So how do you improve employee retention in these crazy times?
The answer is easier than you may think. And much of it revolves around putting your employees first.
Employee Retention Starts on the First Day
Employee retention starts on day one. Fail to show new employees you care about them (and their career) from the start, and many will already have one foot out of the door. The human resources and management teams must promote the fact that they are there to help the employee thrive and that their door is always open for questions and concerns.
From the first morning on the job, show them they are more than just cogs in the machine. Occasionally remind them why their job is essential to the company. Help them co-create a career plan. Or, even better, as they learn the ropes help lay out a trajectory for their career. By setting up a path for success, the employee will stick around longer. After all, they know future growth opportunities await.
Once they have the hang of their initial job, introduce a few new responsibilities included in the job descriptions of potential future positions. That way, the employee knows you are serious about executing the career plan.
Once orientation is complete, don’t just throw them in the water, sink-or-swim style. Instead, pair the employee up with a dedicated associate so the new employee can turn to them when they have questions. Mentoring programs can be powerful benefits for both the new employee and their mentor. At consulting firm Bain & Company, an increased push in mentoring has resulted in all 8,000 consultants having a mentor.
This mentoring program has led to significant and tangible advantages for Bain. Among them, Bain has doubled the number of women in leadership positions.
Even in “normal” times, many employees choose their employer-based mostly on the benefits offered. This decision-making process is especially prevalent during the pandemic when people live what sometimes seems like upside-down lives.
But benefits don’t stop at healthcare.
For example, allowing flexible schedules can do wonders for employees. If practical, suggest a later start time to get their children ready for school or assist with home-schooling. Also, allow time for doctor’s visits and care of an extended member of the family. Not only do you show you care about them as people, you encourage a healthy work-life balance.
Of course, a lot of people still count on their job for health insurance. So, have a comprehensive plan that protects them and their income if they are hurt or sick. Again, if practical, offer dental and vision insurance too. Perhaps most important in these difficult times, promote preventive healthcare by offering wellness programs. Include gym memberships, stress-relief management classes, and incentives for a healthy lifestyle (which could include a discount on their insurance deductible).
Paid time off can often be challenging to manage in work at home situations. And yet that paid time off is earned and necessary for many reasons, including mental health. In response to that challenge, Airbnb offers travel credits in addition to significant time off. These perks, and others, helped the company become a 2016 best place to work in CareerBliss’s annual survey.
Compensation and Perks
Compensation is also crucial for employee retention. If we don’t pay fairly and equitably, employees will find a different company that provides what they need. Use outside resources like Salary.com to see the average pay for similar positions in your area of the world. If you can afford to pay them the same, so they aren’t tempted to go elsewhere, make that effort.
Finally, don’t forget the perks. These are the unwritten benefits that employees tell their families about at the end of the day. These perks could be extra paid time off for a job well done or discounted tickets to an amusement park. For employees of Treehouse, an education technology company, one major perk is a four-day workweek. Treehouse shortened the workweek in 2006. The company reports employees have been happier and more productive ever since.
Even the smallest perks will motivate them to do their best work. So, make it a point to buy them a coffee on a random Thursday or take them out to lunch after completing a big project.
Culture and Communication
In the end, the best way to retain employees is to create a workplace they are excited to return to day after day. Specifically, it is about having a safe, warm, and welcoming company culture that encourages growth. It is also about living, rather than just stating, positive values you act upon every day.
A caring culture also requires active communication from management to employees on a personal level. Don’t wait until the annual review to see how your staff is doing. Instead, practice regular check-ins. Review their work; offer praise and validation at every opportunity. Take the time necessary to answer any questions. And see where they are on their career plan and make modifications if necessary. Keep an open mind during these check-ins and actively listen to what the employees have to say.
Yes, employee retention is incredibly important. Luckily, retention efforts are not overly difficult for a company that chooses to make an intentional effort.
Make an employee’s day today – and avoid the hassle of unneeded turnover tomorrow.