How to Retain Your Employee Talent
If you look around your office and you are happy with the people who work for you, you want to keep them around. However, all companies want to hire and to retain the best employees, so it becomes your job to convince people in your office to stick around.
However, how can you do that? Just as you might try to boost employee morale to improve productivity, you can use some of those same tactics to keep your employees from leaving you.
Getting People to Stick Around
If someone has worked for you for a long period, you may take it personally if he or she decides to leave and work for someone else. After all, you have spent time training them, getting to know them, and so forth.
But when a person gets an offer they cannot refuse, there is not much you can do.
So, the key to retaining your employees is to make sure they have more reasons to stay than they have to leave. True, no one is going to be 100 percent happy with their job, but there are ways you can increase the chances that your employees will stay in their positions.
What you need to know is that the following strategies are not something you enact when you feel someone is going to leave. Instead, these are ways that you can and should engage your employees all the time.
The more you can do for your team every day, the more days they will stay with the same company.
Their needs may change over time, so it is essential that you keep talking to them about what they need, what they want, and how you can make sure that they are the best (and happiest) employees.
One of the common reasons why people leave companies is that they do not feel challenged enough. Though you might think people leave because they are overworked (and that certainly happens too), talent leaves when it feels that the company is not utilizing them well.
If you have hired someone who has extensive training in an area, but you never take advantage of it, you need to rethink your leadership.
Here are some ways to make sure your staff continues to be challenged.
- Set high goals. In your company, there are ways in which you can measure performance and you can create goals to achieve. Make sure that all employees know what they need to do, so that they are challenged during their day-to-day tasks. You may want to set higher goals than you think they can achieve, just to see how much they might push themselves to work hard for the company. Of course, these goals cannot be unreasonable, or else that might cause an employee to feel as though they are not a good fit for their job.
- Know your team's talents and use them. Take inventory of the talents your team brings to the table in your company. Go back to their resume and to their interview to think about what they said that they were good at and what they said they loved doing. The more you can use these talents and skills, the more the employee will feel as though they are an individual who is contributing, which is often more satisfying than being a part of a team.
- Encourage training. Whenever possible, you should encourage employees in your company to seek out additional training. This will give them more skills, which can allow them to continue to be valued in their role, while also challenging them to learn something new.
- Review their performance. Regularly evaluate team members to see where they are feeling challenged and where they are not. You will be able to then work together to come up with ways to inspire more from that team member.
You need to make sure that team members do not become stagnant in their roles. They need to know that you find them valuable, or else they will find someone else who points out their value and utilizes it.
Listen to Them
Even more important than giving your team enough to do and making sure they feel challenged is listening to them. If your employees do not feel that you pay attention to them, they are going to be more likely to head to a company where they will be heard.
Of course, it is not realistic for you to hear every single person in your company all the time, but if you want to keep talented people around, you need to have ways for them to communicate with you.
This communication might include the following.
- Weekly meetings. The more you can meet face to face (or in a digital format), the more you will be able to know what is on the mind of your team. You can then listen to them, ask questions, and find out how things can be changed or adjusted. These meetings do not have to be long to be effective.
- Email messages. You can also let your team know that they can email you when they have questions or concerns. These should be put into a separate email account so you can easily respond to them in a focused way. At the end of each day, you might, for example, spend time answering their concerns, setting up meetings, if needed, or telling them that you will work on their ideas.
- Suggestion times. While the idea of an actual suggestion box is a bit outdated now, you might want to create a shared file that allows everyone in the department or company to add ideas and suggestions for you to review. This helps you by collecting the ideas in one place, while it also helps other team members see what has been suggested.
- Positive responses. Just talking or having people talk to you is not the end of better communication. In fact, you will need to respond in a way that encourages the parts of the suggestion or idea that may be utilized. Not every idea will be used, of course, but it is a good idea to make sure that you follow through with the things that you say you will follow through.
- Troubleshooting sessions. Having sessions in which you and another staff member will troubleshoot a problem can be highly effective and productive. Instead of just talking about a problem, you can get together to talk about how you will solve the problem and immediately take action.
The more you can assure your employees that you want to hear from them and that when they talk to you they will be heard, the more likely they are to stick around.
You cannot simply tell them what to do and think that this is enough for them to enjoy their job. You need to collaborate with the people who are doing the work that grows the company.
Funny enough, giving your employees rewards is not the best way to encourage their loyalty. While these rewards can certainly help, there is always a better reward out there, and if you suddenly cannot give a reward, then you might compromise the system and its effectiveness.
Rewards are not always about money either, or prizes. You can also reward your team by providing the following.
- Recognition. The more people feel seen for what they do, the more they feel valued at a company. Even though they might not see an instant raise from their actions, if they are praised in front of others, it makes them feel good and it inspires them to continue the good work. You might recognize an employee in an email or at a meeting to ensure the most people see the demonstration of praise.
- Time away. Allowing an employee to have some unexpected time away can be valuable as well. When they can get away from the office and do something for themselves, this can make them feel valuable and it can allow them to come back even more focused and energized.
- New equipment. Giving an employee a new piece of equipment to do their job may well also provide incentive to stay. Instead of getting a raise, they can get something that will make their everyday life easier (such as a better computer). Moreover, since it is a part of your company's expenses and it will stay with the company, it is more cost effective.
- Training. Something that might be valuable to certain employees is additional training. When an employee is seen as valuable, and you give them an opportunity to be more valuable to the company, they can feel special as a result. This works with people who are constantly striving to be better, or who might want to be in a higher role of authority in the future, and that position is not available now.
Yes, rewards can help you retain the talent that you have in your company. However, you do not have to necessarily provide raises or other costly rewards to make someone feel rewarded.
Preventing High Turnover Rates
If your company has suffered from high turnover rates, you are not alone. Many companies have difficulty keeping employees in their position, and sometimes it is unclear why they leave.
By taking some time to learn why they are leaving and what you can do about it, you can reduce the fluctuations in your staff and you can increase your stability in the workplace.
This leads to better retention numbers and a stronger ability to entice new talent to your company.
Why Do People Leave?
While every person's reasons for leaving a company will differ and vary, the more aware you can become of the potential reasons, the more you can prevent this from happening.
The most common reasons for people leaving are included the following list.
- Lack of direction.
- Lack of resources.
- Management issues.
- A better offer.
In thinking about each of these scenarios, you can begin to see where you might be able to prevent turnover.
A lack of direction is when the employee is not sure what they should be doing or what their focus should be. They often become frustrated because they only find out what direction is intended when they make a mistake.
To solve this problem, it is best to ensure that each employee has a clear goal for the week, the month, and the year. This way, they can see the progress they have made, and they can decide how to proceed with that information.
A lack of resources often occurs in companies that need to cut down on costs. A business may choose not to upgrade equipment, for example, which can hamper the way a person is able to do their job. If the cuts are substantial, it can become frustrating to feel as though they still need to do a job, but they cannot do it as well.
To avoid this issue, companies should try to prioritize resources and ensure that their employees have what they need to do the job. This does not mean a company needs to spend millions of dollars, but they should plan for their company to have what the rest of the industry uses.
Though this is not as common as one might think, conflict can certainly cause issues in the workplace, and cause issues that lead to turnover.
A company can step in to help navigate the conflict and help make things more peaceful. While the issue may be ongoing, knowing that management is aware of what is happening and is actively trying to help, that can create a more palatable workplace.
Sometimes, management does not click the way it should with its employees. While it is not reasonable for everyone to like everyone, it is also not unreasonable for management to treat employees with respect. If this is not happening, the employee will seek out other roles.
To avoid this situation, companies may want to have an evaluation process for management by their team members. In doing so, the company will have a clear understanding of who may need some additional training or support.
In some companies, an employee may also begin to get bored in their job. This happens when they are being underutilized or when they have been in a company for an extended period.
If the employee is someone you would like to retain, then it might be a good idea to determine if they are promotable or if they can be assigned additional tasks.
The situation that most companies fear is that an employee will get a better offer from another company, which can certainly happen. When companies want to have the best talent, they are willing to offer more to a new team member to ensure they join their team.
One of the ways to make sure team members are happy is to ask them what they need to support their workplace. Moreover, you will want to encourage your employees to let you know if someone else is wooing them.
After all, if you find out that someone is trying to take your employees, you can see what perks and bonuses are valued, and you can begin to offer them also.
A valuable tool for many companies is the exit interview. This is a process in which the employer sends a form out to the former employee or they sit down with the former employee to find out more about their experience at the company.
This is a great way to ensure that the company sees why people are leaving so they can address the situation. While this interaction may not result in the employee being offered their job again, it does provide them with the ability to reveal what caused them to leave.
It is best to ask a number of questions in this interview, questions that require more than yes or no answers. The more details you can collect, the more details you can use in your company's organizational development plans.
Some effective exit interview questions include:
- What did you like about your employment?
- What did not work for you in your job?
- How could your job have been made better?
- How did management support your efforts?
- How did management not support your daily activities?
- What resources did you have? What was missing?
- What benefits did you enjoy? What was missing?
- Why are you leaving this job?
- How could you have made your job better?
The more you can peek into the employee's everyday experience and their work, the more you can begin to see whether the company needs to change its policies or procedures.
Now, just because the exit interview reveals certain problems in the company does not mean that these problems are issues. You may find some problems to be unique to that situation and employee.
Nevertheless, collecting this information is still a great way to see your company from the employee's point of view.
Ongoing Team Meetings
Another way to avoid turnover or to drop its occurrence is to consider ongoing meetings. While employees do not see the value of these meetings, you can create value and excitement.
- Have a clear agenda. One of the most frustrating things about meetings is when it is not clear why people are there. By having a set schedule of topics, with the opportunity for team members to add to the list, you can keep things on track, and you can show the attendees why it is a benefit for them to attend.
- Show that you are listening. During the meetings, it is not enough to be present, especially if you are a manager. It is more helpful to take notes and to follow up on action items that are discussed. In doing so, you will be able to create a meeting that results in something happening. Also, if suggestions are made and you promise something will occur, then make sure it occurs. If not, the meetings may feel more like venting sessions than productive uses of time.
- Be willing to manage problems. The meetings can also be used to problem solve an issue in the company. You might find out about an issue and describe it to the group, without any names attached (of course, this works best in larger companies). Then, have the entire group try to solve the problem together.
- Keep the meetings short (but flexible). Ideally, the adult span of attention is about 90 minutes, so the more you can keep meetings within that timeframe, the better. Shorter is best.
- Encourage small group meetings. You can also suggest that your company break up into smaller groups, perhaps based on projects, to continue to work on communication and teamwork.
- Let the employees run the meetings. Though you may need to run the meetings as the manager, at first, allow the employees to be in control of the meetings as time goes on. This allows them to be a part of the work, and to feel as though you trust them to make decisions and to create a stronger company with their own ideas.
The key factor is not to spend all of your time in meetings, and thus, not get any work done. You do want to have regular times set up to meet so employees and management can talk about things and work out issues.
Weekly meetings are ideal, but biweekly or monthly meetings may make more sense in larger groups.
Just as the adage says, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The more you can prevent problems in the workplace, the more likely you are to prevent high turnover rates.
However, how can you prevent all problems? The short answer is that you cannot. Nevertheless, you can see what problems tend to emerge and you can try to reduce their occurrence.
- Know common problems. The more you are involved in your company, the more you will become aware of common and recurring problems. Make sure you are listening to people that share concerns with you, and make sure that you are also tracking those issues to see if they come up at particular times or with particular people.
- Have processes in place for solving conflict. One of the best ways to manage problems is to have a process in place. For example, when two people are arguing about something, create a process in which they have to talk it out together first. If that does not work, then they need to talk it out with someone else on their team, then with a manager, and then with an outside meditator if they cannot work things out. When there are processes, people can use those instead of staying stuck in the problem.
- Ask for truthful communication. If you are someone who is involved in management, you need to know what the conflict actually is before you can step in to help them solve it. Ask for truthful communication during the issue and find out all of the facts before making a decision about what to do.
- Do not wait to solve a problem. Though it might seem easier to let people figure things out on their own, and you might want to give some time for this, realize that the more time you wait to solve an issue, the more complicated it can become. Try to solve problems when they are minor issues, and learn from these situations so that they do not escalate.
- Take responsibility. If you are a part of the issue, then you need to step in and take responsibility for your role. Even though you might want to blame someone else, it is better if you step up and admit when you are wrong, as this encourages others to consider their own responsibility in the matter.
While you may not be able to stop and prevent every problem, you may be able to prevent most problems by simply being ready for them.
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