13 Terrific Tips for Improving Retention
Say "No More" to the Revolving Door
Show Me More Than Just the Money!
No matter the size or profitability, if a company depends on employees to make money, retention strategies should be an important focus. However, many corporations (over 50% according to research by US business consultant Watson Wyatt) have no retention strategy whatsoever. Some believe it's only about pay levels. The fact is, remuneration is only one factor among many that helps to instil staff loyalty. Besides their paycheque, many want to know 'Where is the love?'
Besides remuneration, other aspects that affect job satisfaction include:
- how well their personalities mesh with their duties and the business as a whole,
- how loyal the employee feels the company is to them,
- what benefits are offered compared to the industry standard,
- and possibly most importantly, if they feel they are valued by the company.
Here are 13 tips to help with retention.
1. To Catch a Keeper; Hire Retainable People at the Outset.
Finding the right person for a position is easier said than done. Getting a perfect fit takes a lot more than simply reviewing resumes and interviewing the person with the best looking one. Using modern HR candidate-testing tools can provide a fairly good picture of a prospective employee's personality and whether they will fit the position and the corporate culture.
Be aware there is no single, ideal employee personality type. A good fit is more about the specific job to be done and the environment it will be performed in than the personality of your corporate culture. For example, gregariousness is an asset to a salesman but may be a interruptive factor for someone sharing an office where concentration is critical.
Know, too, that high intelligence is a better predictor of job satisfaction than 'being a nice guy'. In fact, company's who hire for 'values" have a terrible retention record compared to those who hire for intelligence, according to a report in the Harvard Business Review located here.
Those who ignore matching personalities to specific jobs may be buying retention problems down the road; not just with the new hire but among those with which the newbie will be working. Some great information regarding integration and engagement right at the onboarding stage can be found here on the Canadian HR Resources site.
2. Penny-Pinching's False Economy; Being Cheap Can Be Expensive
A revolving door of new employees constantly being onboarded and going through the unproductive training period is terribly expensive compared to paying wages somewhat above the industry standard. Waiting until a worker is ready to jump ship before paying that little bit extra is risky business, retention-wise. Once a worker starts to become disgruntled, it's hard to make them regruntled!
3. The Secret Benefit of Benefits
According to numerous surveys of HR practitioners, many underestimate the value of good benefits to an employee. Medical, dental and ocular care, short and long term disability programs and RRSP matching contributions are powerful incentives for many workers to remain at a job, even despite a less-than-market pay packet. It may be argued that a great benefit plan benefits the company as much as the employee when retention savings are factored in.
4. Doing the Little Things; There's Power in the Muffin
It may seem like a ridiculous premise to base job satisfaction on, but a small perk can make a big difference to employees. It doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate, either. Consider things 'Donut Day' or 'Muffin Monday'. Buy pizza for the staff if they've had to work extra overtime or share corporate sporting event tickets. A birthday card tells the employee they are recognized as an individual. These small tokens need not be expensive, just thoughtful.
5. Many Paddles, One Boat; Ensuring Their Goals Match Yours
Humans are generally goal-oriented. They need to know the objective the team is working toward and their role in attaining it. Workers also require updates to make them aware how the team is progressing toward achieving their goals. If you do not define their goals, they most certainly will create their own, which may or may not be in the company's best interest. Employees who are encouraged to embrace corporate goals are much more engaged, happy and productive and more apt to stay in the fold.
6. You Don't Know It If You Don't Measure It.
It is critical to maintain retention metrics. There is no other way of knowing if your retention policies are working if you don't track turnover. Establishing benchmarks and monitoring changes will help identify when new retention programs are required or if current initiatives are already effective.
7. Well-Rounded Workers; Better, Smarter Problem-Solvers.
Workers are interested in personal development and will stay with a company that offers opportunities for self-improvement. Staff responds to an employer who appears to value a person's growth potential. It is therefore simply good business to provide tuition reimbursement for employee education courses, not just company-centric ones. Encouraging them in their individual pursuits makes worker feel unique and valued.
8. Dump Cranky, Combative, or Confrontational Managers
Managers are there to manage people, not boss them around as if they're automatons. Although bosses sometimes are disliked because of situations they are put in, such as defending unpopular policies, if a leader consistently is in conflict with staff, management must recognize it may not be the employees who are at fault. Ensure there are avenues for workers to honestly and anonymously evaluate supervisors, ideally at the same time as employees are undergoing their own evaluations. According to Steve Miranda, Managing Director of the Center for Advanced Human Resource studies at Cornell University, workers who want to quit often aren't rejecting the company, but their immediate supervisor.
9. Rigidity is Stupidity; Be as Flexible as Possible
One need not be a contortionist but as far as it's feasible, without compromising corporate efficiency, allow employees the greatest latitude in their dealings with the company. Whether it is regarding to time off, shift scheduling and personal issues that can face any one of us, being willing to give a little leeway goes a long way. It's a subtle method of letting an employee know they are valued and regarded as an individual; both vital aspects in the retention biz.
10. We're Number One! Let Them Know They Work for a Winner
You wouldn't be in business if you weren't successful in specific aspects of your industry. Perhaps you have the best customer service, the most attractive pricing or the widest selection of products. Let your employees know they are part of a winning team, what makes the team a winner and what role each of them has in creating that success. High performance athletes, for example, are often willing to accept less pay if they have a chance to win a championship.
11. Things are Looking Up; Provide Paths to Job Improvement.
Ambitious human assets will not likely remain in your employ for long if they perceive there is little chance of promotion from within. Groom employees for elevation in the ranks with cross-training and mentorship programs. It will translate into increased job satisfaction, more flexible staffing options in the event of absenteeism and transitions in hierarchy will go more smoothly. The retention dividends will be significant.
12. Up Close and Personal; Interact With Staff as Individuals.
You don't have to hang out with your workers after closing but treating them as people is an inexpensive, yet effective retention tool, not to mention the right thing to do. Ask about their family. Find out what hobbies they have. View them as social equals when the conversation isn't about work. The rewards will be enormous, for the company, the employees and yourself in enhanced job satisfaction, increased morale and better retention.
13. What Works, What Sucks; 'Stay' Interviews As Vital as Exit Ones
One would hope every company engages in asking those that leave why they are doing so. Smart employers also ask those who remain why they do. If the answers are similar between respondents, you will get a terrific picture of what is working, retention-wise and what is not.
At the End of the Day, Besides Night
Great retention isn't ever only about big raises, new benefits or fat bonuses. It is an ongoing expression of the value the company and its leaders hold for their employees. Money, as everyone knows, doesn't buy happiness, and cannot purchase loyalty. Companies who ignore this retention reality do so at their peril.