Your employees are your most important business asset; they drive your sales and your customer satisfaction. Though there may be an understanding that the loss of a valued employee will have detrimental effects, it is still often not managed correctly.

We place a lot of emphasis on hiring and training employees but it is equally important to focus on employee retention. Employee turnover is a major problem, but there are ways to avoid it, and so you can build a stronger, more cohesive team.

Why employee retention matters

In a recent survey, Survey Monkey, found that 51% of employees would take another job if offered. The Wall Street Journal estimates that it costs more than twice the amount of an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement. And according to Investopedia, it takes 6.2 months to have a new employee trained up to a base level of the employee they replaced.

This means that half of your current employees are open to leaving your organization, and it will cost you twice their salary to refill their roles, and half a year to get their replacement satisfactorily trained.

Take a moment to reflect on the effects this has on your company each time it happens.

That thought alone should be enough to help you focus on employee retention.

Departing employees have a knock-on effect

We have all, at one time or another, worked at a company where resignation fever swept through the ranks. One good, hard-working employee resigns, and three more follow in short succession. While this influence is generally short lived, it does leave a lingering impression of the need to move on to what may seem like ‘greener pastures’ for those left behind.

There is nothing you can do to force a great employee to stay, but you can do everything in your power to prevent it.

Hire the right employees in the first place

Hiring the right employees form the start is the single best way to reduce employee turnover. You need to interview candidates carefully, and always do reference checks before they are hired. Ensure they have the right skills for the role you are hiring them for, and know where you will need to train them further. Supporting new employees through comprehensive training will ensure they have a great base to excel from.

That being said, it is not enough to hire for technical ability. Roughly 60% of people leave their company because of the people they work with, not because of the job they are doing. You must hire employees that are a cultural fit, as well as fit well with managers and co-workers. Hire employees who contribute to your organisation’s success for the long term.

Pay above-standard

If you are looking to hire the best, you need to pay them what they are worth. Work with your HR team to make sure that you have up-to-date market rates. It is not to say that you need to be paying ridiculous salaries to employees, but paying at or below market rate will make employees feel under valued.

Provide meaningful annual raises by reviewing your compensation and benefits to make sure you are staying competitive. Reach out to your recruitment agency if you need additional details. Your recruiters are working with a variety of companies and candidates daily. They have more insider information than you may think.

Salaries and rates of pay are often seen as a “dirty little secret” within organizations. Whether you like it or not, your employees are talking to each other about pay even if you think they aren’t. Be consistent with compensation, and have firm, documented, reasons why exceptions have been made. Don’t let unconscious bias get in the way of your reasoning.

Benefits can give you a competitive edge

Get creative with benefits. Look at telecommuting, flex-time, stock options, additional vacation time, or other non-financial rewards if you are unable to match the salaries that the competition offers. Work-life balance is often underrated, yet highly sought after by all levels of employees; it is these types of considerations that may sway someone to accept your offer over more money.

Provide growth opportunities

Promote from within as often as your employee’s skills will allow. Make every position available internally before looking to hire. Make sure that all your employees know about the role too. Don’t assume that everyone knows to look on an obscure internal job board – tell them about it. Once employees see that there is opportunity to advance, they will know their hard work pays off at the company they are in, and be less likely to look elsewhere.

Don’t forget that not everyone wants to be CEO. Recognise those that love their roles and the work they do. Don’t just promote them to a new role they would be unsuitable for and unhappy in.

Never stop learning

Give employees opportunities to continue their education. Provide tuition for classes and conferences, or access to online training portals like LinkedIn Learning or Skillshare. Give them challenging and stimulating work. Share career development plans with them so that you are working together on their goals and passions.

Recognise good work

Being a good employee is hard work. While a bonus or salary increase is nice, you need to make sure recognition happens year ‘round. Follow up with employees to say “thank you” or “well done” for a job well done. It is a small act with large significance, that goes a long way to creating loyalty and goodwill.

Make your recognition specific. Avoid saying a simple “Nice job”. Instead, try saying “Excellent work on the final report for the Cooper Project”. It shows that you have paid specific attention to that employee’s contribution within a team. Make sure it is truthful and sincere.

If you aren’t able to praise an employee’s work, recognize that they may need assistance. Provide constructive feedback and work together on improvements. As you see those improvements happen, make sure to show your appreciation and respect for the hard work they are putting in to change. You may be surprised what other improvements you can make throughout your company.

Check in regularly

Check in with your employees quarterly.  Don’t wait for annual reviews. You need to start meeting one-on-one in a less formal environment. This is the only way you can truly become aware of areas of concern, frustration, or what they need to get their job done. Have open, honest discussions and be willing to listen to what you are told. Then make changes, and get feedback on those changes. Otherwise no one will voice their opinion to you again. That is the only way you can learn, make improvement, and keep your top employees.

Find out what went wrong

Don’t ever underestimate the power of exit interviews. If you are losing a good employee, you want to discover what caused them to leave so you can prevent it happening again. You will find that employees are more willing to be open and honest when they are leaving. While they may have hesitated for fear of repercussions, once they have officially resigned, that fear is no longer there. Exit interviews can bring to attention bigger problems or issues that need attention within a team.

Keep your focus

No matter if you are a multibillion-dollar corporation, or a small business, employee retention should always be top of mind. You should take it as seriously as you take your recruitment efforts. The absence of a good employee is felt both financially and culturally. Whatever you do, don’t ignore any employees that don’t complain. Just because they haven’t said anything to you doesn’t mean they aren’t frustrated and thinking of leaving.

Our team always loves helping clients find qualified candidates that are a good fit and will be long term assets to their company. Let’s work together to make your company the success it should be. Connect with one of us today!

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