There are few things more demoralising for a dedicated manager than receiving the formal resignation notice of a good employee. Apart from the questions it will inevitably raise about whether you could have done more to help keep them, it signals an immediate period of disruption. Even with a great recruitment partner in your corner, replacing a member of your team is inconvenient and not to be desired. When the churn of staff is unusually high, it becomes even more so. Bad employee retention can be a lot more than an inconvenience, though. It is costly, it affects morale, it decreases productivity, and if you are in a sector where there is a skills gap, it can lead to real difficulties just maintaining your business at all. All in all, a good employee retention rate is not just desirable; it is often a necessity for a thriving business.
Boost your retention
There are many ways to boost your retention, and some of them are actually quite easy to implement. Often, however, the bustle of daily workloads overwhelm the needs of the business and something like employee retention can easily fall off the radar because it is less apparent than other problems. The first part of our advice then centres around this.
- Make the time to look at your retention and really dig into the reasons your employees are leaving. This can actually be quite a difficult task because often employees will obscure the reason they leave so as not to upset you. Be robust and ready for criticism. Exit interviews may be a good start, and so will regular development meetings. You will also need to figure out where the unusual levels of leavers and the reasonable expected churn of staff begins and ends.
- You cannot control everything, and it’s important to figure where the leavers are going because of your workplace environment and where other factors have caused it. Clear focus on the things you can change is always going to be the best option.
- Offer training and development. Money is only the basic reason your employees go to work; it is not the reason they stay with an employer. We all like to think we are going somewhere in our careers, and employees will respond well to the option to develop.
- Offer interesting and even unusual perks. Businesses that give employees perks retain better than those that have traditional contracts. Get creative, perhaps. How about a free birthday holiday or a reward programme? Some employees are even allowing for ‘under the weather’ days and trusting that their team will work from home and get more done there if they are a little off colour (or maybe even hungover) than in work. Speaking of working from home…
- Flexible and variable working hours. This is an old but very valid method of encouraging retention. Happy dads who didn’t miss their school first nativity play because they made the time up or workers who get to be comfortable and warm instead of dragging through the rain to work are considerably less likely to move on.
- Have clear, visible and rigid boundaries. There is nothing wrong with a workplace where the employees are fully aware of what is expected of them and what is not. These go both ways, of course. As much as you expect an employee to arrive at work to the agreed schedule, it is only fair that you also encourage them to stop working when their workload is finished. The phenomenon of overwork producing under performance is well documented.
- Praise competence and support it as much as you look to develop the underperforming employee. Assuming that a competent worker is ‘doing fine’ and letting them get on with it shows trust, but if taken too far, it can lead to resentment.
- Hire well in the first instance. A good recruitment partner will make sure you avoid a bad hire and that the people you take on fit your culture and your team as well as your skill requirements.
People stay where they are wanted and appreciated
The biggest boost to retention, though, is probably as simple as the fact that we all prefer to stay where we are wanted and appreciated. For employees, that can mean as little as a thank you or a bit of recognition now and again. Small things maybe, but all the same very important for retaining staff, and that is, in turn, very important to retaining your edge in a competitive market place.