Employee Retention: How Do You Hold On To Your Top Employees?

Employee Retention: How Do You Hold On To Your Top Employees?

Wouldn’t it be great if we always hire all the right people, train them up to be star employees, and they stay with us for the rest of their working lives?

Fantasy world?

Well, yes it is. But there is no need to throw up your arms and give in to the inevitability that your best employees will always leave.

Yes, millennials may be ‘job hoppers’ and they are more likely to seek new opportunities than their predecessors (a LinkedIn study found four job changes by the age of 32 is the new norm) but that doesn’t mean we should accept that we can’t provide what they are looking for.

So how do you hold on to your top talent before it heads for the door – and potentially takes others with them?

Listen to why they are leaving

Gallup’s Q12 survey found that “the best workplaces give their employees a sense of purpose, help them feel they belong, and enable them to make a difference.” Organisations that achieve this have lower employee turnover rates and are better able to keep hold of their talent.

If you are not providing these qualities, it MAY be the reason why you are suffering from poor employee retention. But it is not a good idea to ASSUME this is the case. Find out why your employees are leaving by conducting surveys and exit interviews, and taking steps to gather feedback from the ground up about what’s going wrong.

Being out of touch with the needs of employees will almost certainly mean that you’ll fail to meet these needs, and they will start looking elsewhere. Identifying specifically what you are missing involves some research within your company before you take the steps to try to correct it.

Be the leader that understands employee goals

Do you understand what your employees want to achieve – not just within your organisation in the next 12 months, but longer term, personally and professionally?

This is key to becoming the mentor, coach, and leader that employees will look up to and form a bond with; it’s the strength of relationships and enjoyment in coming to work (as a result of these relationships) that often keep people in a job.

If you understand the person, you can help the employee achieve their goals. Without this, you are essentially using guesswork and you will be just like all the other managers they have worked with to date. People stay with bosses they like; and they like bosses who take the time to get to know them, understand them, honour the commitments they make to them, and work with them to help them progress through life.

Provide a career path

Hand-in-hand with the need to understand goals is the need to provide a path to reach those goals that are possible within your organisation. Seeing progress towards these goals will be a key factor in creating positive sentiments that keep employees with you for the longer term.

A perceived lack of opportunity is often stated as a key reason for leaving a job. If this is one of the causes behind a high employee turnover, especially with regard to your best employees, then how are you going to provide new challenges and opportunities for employees to work towards their goals?

If the positions are not available right now, how can you help motivated employees improve their skill sets and become better trained so that, when the positions do open up, they are well prepared for making the step up?

Remember that achieving work goals is a source of pride, accomplishment, and self-confidence for many people. If you can help them achieve this, their sense of loyalty to you will increase.

Reward and recognise high performance

Financial rewards are always important – and some people will inevitably leave for a higher salary that you simply cannot match. However, there are other ways that you manage this – through additional perks, benefit packages, incentives, and performance bonuses.

There are also other ways to reward and recognise performance that will appeal to the sense of value and worth that an employee brings to the organisation. Recognition in front of peers for work well done, an improved job title, more responsibility, and other non-financial rewards are important for many who value the sense of making a valuable contribution.

Conversely, if employees feel that they are not respected, undervalued, taken for granted, or treated the same as under-performing employees, this is bound to encourage them to head for the door.

Create an environment for creativity to flourish

Stifling employee creativity is a serious problem that can have the best people looking for other opportunities.

Some of the most successful modern organisations – Google, Apple, etc. – are well known for building in creative thinking time to the work day and celebrating it. They provide space for innovation to flourish.

You may not need particularly creative ideas day in day out for your organisation to be successful; but that doesn’t mean that the impulse to be creative doesn’t exist amongst your people. It’s a natural human characteristic and you should try to nurture it in your organisation rather than stifling it with an obsession for processes and systems. Your employees may come up with better ways of doing things – if you let them.

Introduce more flexibility and work-life balance

It’s no wonder that most people view their own wellbeing and lifestyle as just as important as their careers; work needs to fit in around family life, health, fitness, interests, entertainment, and …well… life in general. This expectation has changed largely due to the advances of technology that allow us to work remotely, at all hours, from practically anywhere.

Such flexibility needs to be built in to the way your business operates so that people need to sacrifice fewer of their personal needs and preferences to fulfil job requirements.

Of course, it’s not all one way. When employees are working, they need to be productive and deliver high performance. But that’s also more likely if they are comfortable with the working arrangements, not overworked, not stressed, and their personal life is not impeded.

Final thoughts

The high costs of consistently losing your best talent go beyond the cost of rehiring and training; what about the costs to company morale, motivation, customer confidence, and overall productivity?

We must not give in to the sense that this is, in any way, inevitable. We must fight it by making careful, well-researched changes that make our organisations more attractive in the longer term.

Don’t assume that the reasons good employees quit your company are the same as elsewhere. Find out through a system of continuous feedback, interviews, and surveys. Then make the necessary changes. This will likely involve management treating employees with the emotional intelligence and sensitivity to become leaders concerned for the wellbeing of their people, rather than just managers managing processes and systems.

Does your present leadership have the necessary soft skills to better manage relationships and to make these important changes?

Got problems with holding on to your best talent? High employee turnover can be crippling – let’s start discussing ways you can address it. Email me at: ush@collaboratehr.com.au.