Employee retention is one of the most difficult and expensive challenges faced by business owners, managers, and HR departments. Fortunately, the keys to retention are simple and straightforward, though certainly easier said than done. The following practices are essential to reduce turnover and increase employee retention:
Pick the right people in the first place. Put thought and care into your recruitment and interview procedures. The more time you and other employees can spend with candidates, the surer you’ll be that they believe in your mission, understand the challenges and frustrations of the position and want to contribute to your success.
Exit interviews can shine a light on toxic management practices, hostile work environments, departmental conflict, and employee concerns that haven’t been shared with management or HR. They’re often more informative than regular check-ins because departing employees have little to lose in being candid. And if you’re willing to act on the information you receive, exit interviews can help you increase retention. Ask the employee to talk about any problems, unresolved issues, or other matters not handled to their satisfaction. Did their supervisor demonstrate fair and equal treatment? Provide recognition on the job? Develop cooperation and teamwork? Encourage and listen to suggestions? Resolve complaints and problems? Follow policies and practices? You might get answers you don’t want to hear, but they’re invaluable if you’re serious about improving employee retention.
Like the exit interview, the “stay interview” solicits employee feedback; but instead of being conducted as an employee exits, it’s conducted before employees decide to leave. As the name implies, this interview asks employees why they stay, and in this way, stay interviews can increase employee retention. If any changes are made because of the employee’s feedback, be sure to let the employee know, and if any expected or desired changes couldn’t be made, let them know why (if appropriate). Transparency is key, particularly as you won’t be able to fix everything or please everyone. Employees may not like the way everything is done, but if you share with them the reasons the company behaves the way it does, they’ll be more likely to trust you and share their concerns in the future.
Make sure your compensation and benefits remain competitive. This is a tall order and may squeeze your bottom line in ways that make you uncomfortable, but it’s necessary if retention is at the top of your priority list. Make it a goal to do a yearly analysis of your total compensation package to ensure that it’s at least keeping up with the market. Many employers who know they can’t offer competitive pay offer other compelling benefits, like generous PTO and the ability to work from home.
Be appreciative. A little gratitude can go a long way. And you can show it in multiple ways – from flexibility when employees need it, to a willingness to hear out ideas, to employee appreciation programs. Even a simple thank you can work wonders.
Invest in Training
Contrary to common fears, training employees doesn’t usher them out the door; in fact, investing in employee training boosts retention. Yes, training may prepare employees for employment outside your company, but it also prepares them for a better future working for you. You can increase the likelihood that your employees will use the training they receive for your benefit by giving them opportunities to put what they’ve learned to immediate use and rewarding them when the new skills and extra effort pay off. Prompt application of what they’ve learned will help solidify their knowledge, while the positive reinforcement will encourage continued use of the new skills.
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