Employee retention has become a more pressing issue for companies in recent years, with many leading experts identifying it as a key factor in achieving overall success. It's also a matter that concerns and affects organizations regardless of their size or sector.
Keeping the most talented employees at your company means you will remain competitive in your industry, providing a consistent and reliable service for your clients. Employee retention also negates the need to spend money on finding someone of a similar skill set who is looking for a job and in an appropriate location.
There's also the fact that even the most skilled new hires will need a certain element of training or support to embody your company vision.
Onboarding staff is a process, which is more than certainly worth it for you most talented employees, but once you've invested this time, it's in your best interest to keep them. With fewer people staying at the same company for more than a couple of years, how can you improve employee retention?
Don't neglect loyalty
It's much easier to keep staff happy than to change the mind of someone who has become disengaged with your organization. Often there will be an incremental increase in pay for new hires, while very few companies will increase salaries for employees to reflect inflation.
Money may remain one of the most important considerations when it comes to looking for a new job but it's not just because they want more coming into their bank. Having new hires paid more than - or nearly as much as - current staff undervalues the time and effort they have put into your company. It also says that working outside your organization is more valuable to you than success and experience within it.
This puts employees who have remained loyal to your business in a difficult position. If internal progression only happens when people leave the company, you could find yourself in a dangerous cycle.
For many smaller organizations, offering more money after a certain period of time simply isn't an option but there's another solution. Ensure each individual in the company has a development plan where goals are outlined and progress is tracked. This can help you identify the employees who are dedicated to improving their skill set and helping to develop your company, and those who are just here for the paycheck.
This will not only help you find the professionals who are the most valuable to you as a business, but also allows you to reward employees who are putting in the most effort.
Make training available
Prioritizing personal development and progression is something that most successful companies share and it's no coincidence. This not only helps businesses to improve performance - both as an organization and from the individual - but can make a massive difference on employee retention.
Allowing professionals to build on their current skills is an effective way of giving them more autonomy without having to change their role. Job satisfaction is higher among employees who are given the option to develop, boosting morale and productivity in the process.
Often people don't want to apply for a new job but feel forced into it for one or more reasons. Giving employees the opportunity to progress internally means it's less likely that they'll go to one of your competitors to take on a new challenge or expand their expertise.
This should also be something you prioritize when onboarding new hires. Skilled professionals will be more likely to stay within your organization if the induction program engages them and is a practical guide to working at your company.
Prioritize company culture
If you want to reduce staff turnover, you need to look at the company culture and consider this when you are making new hires. Identifying people that feel aligned to your business values or ethos are more likely to stick with your firm than those who are just chasing a bump in pay.
Smaller companies may not have considered what their company culture is but you need to if you are taking on additional employees. Your values should complement your policies and vice versa. For example, if you are hiring younger people, you may alienate them by not offering flexible working policies, whether that's because they want to start a family in the next five years or they just dislike being restricted by traditional working practices.
Many professionals are now turned off by a strict office environment, valuing the higher level of autonomy that comes from flexible working. Some businesses have to be fairly traditional in their working conditions but this can be compensated by offering unique perks. This is an effective way of making all employees feel valued without having to increase multiple wages at once.
Make it easy to complain or innovate
You may think that encouraging people to complain will lead to a toxic atmosphere but this actually couldn't be further from the truth. It's a good way of identifying problems before they become issues that are driving people to job sites. You can do this via a traditional 'comments box' or use online software to help gain insight from your employees. It also prevents issues from festering in your workplace, creating an unpleasant environment for everyone.
Just having this in place at your business can go a long way to improve staff morale and employee retention. Obviously solving their issues is even better but most professionals understand that companies are complicated and things can't change overnight. If there are reasons why things have to stay a certain way then make sure you're transparent with people. For example, if things are tight financially so you can't increase wages or offer training, explaining this to staff will help them understand that you aren't just undervaluing their contribution.
Provide flexible management
Some people prefer to have a hands-on manager, while other flourish in the autonomy of sorting their own workload. You need to identify which people you have working on your team and manage them accordingly. It's likely that the professionals who need less interaction are more valuable to your company but there's no reason why individuals can't progress from one to the other.
Many people leave the company because they don't like their boss. To avoid this you need to do your best to match working and management styles. This also encourages growth and the confidence to try new things.
For employees who benefit from a less intense manager, it's still important that you give them some level of support to ensure they don't become alienated from you and the business.