A company’s employees are its most valuable asset, its competitive advantage and usually its biggest expense. Retaining employees will always come with a cost, but failing to do so can incur an even bigger one. Employee retention refers to an organization’s ability to attract and retain talent and not all businesses take it as seriously as they should.
Turnover is a problem in many industries where employees are either seen as expendable or not enough attention is focused on determining how personnel can be enticed and incentivized to commit to working for a company long-term. With so much competition for top talent and competitors constantly on the lookout for opportunities to scoop up high-performers, below are 5 ways to increase employee retention.
Training and Professional Development Opportunities
One of the things that employees across all industries consistently rate as one of the biggest incentives to stay in a role and with a company are the opportunities for training and professional development. These opportunities essentially translate into the potential for career growth and companies that don’t take this desire seriously are likely going to be outcompeted for labour by those that do. People want to feel like their employer is taking an interest in their professional development and that there are opportunities to evolve, add more value and make more money. The alternative is stagnation, which often begets discontent and prompts people to jump ship.
Training and PD opportunities could involve better digital skills, including improving their abilities with Microsoft Office programs, and particularly Excel spreadsheet tutorials that help people build valuable data management skills. Companies that are serious about increasing employee retention must first view their people as individuals with a desire to self-actualize and increase the value of their labour.
Create a Culture of Recognition
Another way to retain talent within an organization is to do something quite straightforward, but nevertheless something many organizations neglect: recognize people. The phrase “culture of recognition” is one that has been on the minds and tongues of organizational behaviour specialists and business leaders over the last year, as companies struggled to keep employees happy in the midst of so much chaos, uncertainty and digital upheaval. What a culture of recognition refers to is a company atmosphere in which people are given credit and praised for their hard work and results, as well as things like employment milestones, birthdays, anniversaries and the like.
Polls of workers around the world show that some 85 percent feel disengaged from their work and unenthusiastic about their employers. In response to this, many employers are seeking assistance from consultants or attempting to leverage enterprise-level recognition software to help build this culture and make their workplaces more conducive to high morale and enthusiasm.
Understand Incentives to Increase Employee Retention
Incentives are what motivate people to perform and they take many forms. They include monetary and non-monetary compensation (e.g., increased responsibility, learning and leadership opportunities), benefits, stock options and flexibility in terms of hours and WFH. Different employees are motivated by different things, as well as different combinations of the above, and it is up to leadership to ascertain and offer them.
The only way to find this out is to survey employees. These surveys could be anonymous or not, but a company must find out what encourages people to work hard, remain productive, and stay with the company long-term. Money is not the only motivator for people, or even the biggest motivator more generally. People crave fulfilment and meaning in their lives and employers who understand how to help provide this do a lot to increase employee retention.
Another way to improve your employee retention efforts is to make it easier for people to work for you. One of the most important factors in this regard is to give people the flexibility they need to manage increasingly hectic and blurred work and professional lives. Flexibility has been an important focus point over 2020 as people struggled to adapt to working from home, and it will continue to be something expected of employers moving forward as people readapt to in-office work and hybrid on-site and remote work arrangements become the norm.
Help People Build Interpersonal Relationships
One of the best methods for increasing employee retention and one that does not receive enough attention is by helping people build interpersonal relationships. Not only do stronger working relationships among coworkers help facilitate the kind of trust and camaraderie necessary to collaborate and perform as a team, but people are much more likely to stay in their job.
Building these sorts of relationships requires some effort on the part of the employer, but there is a wide range of activities and events (even remote ones) that can have a significant impact on how employees feel about one another. These include after-work drinks (virtual or otherwise), and team-building events like escape rooms, games, and even industry case study competitions. The bottom line is that relationships are what many people find most meaningful about their workplace and helping strengthen and build them is a strategic way to go about retaining employees.
Some industries are plagued with higher turnover than others, but it is something every business should seek to control for and, ideally, minimize. If you want talented people to stick around long-term and use their skills to help grow your business, they need to be incentivized to do so. Whether that is through better and more frequent training and development opportunities, creating a stronger culture of recognition, tailoring your incentivization strategies to reflect the different needs and desires of workers, offering more flexibility or helping people forge stronger relationships with their coworkers, you should consider increasing employee retention to be a strategic initiative.