Employees keep your business running so it’s crucial to keep them happy and fulfilled at work. Replacing staff members who leave is a costly chore, requiring the time and effort to find a new candidate (often via expensive headhunters) and resources to train them, with the reality of knowing there will also be a transition period until the new replacement can execute the role as well as the employee before them. Having talented employees leave your organisation can potentially cause disarray within the ranks and your other employees but most importantly, it affects the direct team when there is one less resource. We compiled this simple guide on effective employee retention strategies to address the challenge of retaining your invaluable staff members, while keeping them happy in their roles.

Start with your management

The number one reason workers leave their job isn’t because of their wages – it’s because of poor management. This means the first step any company should take to ensure its employees don’t go looking elsewhere for work is assessing its managers. Good management is the combination of several different attributes:

Clearly state fair goals

Employees get frustrated when their jobs are fuzzy with objectives. A good strategy to increase retention rates is to adopt SMART goals:

Specific – Clearly stating what is expected for an employee to be successful. Good management should make goals obvious.

Measurable – An employee will want to know exactly how often a goal should be met or where a goal is set to so they’re not left uncertain if they’re doing enough or too much. This also helps employees gauge how quickly they must work.

Ambitious – Bored and under-utilised employees are more likely to leave. Goals should apply a fair amount challenge for employees so they are able to learn and improve their skills while at work.

Realistic – There is only so much an employee can get done during the week. Realistic goals properly balance being challenging while not asking too much. Also, don’t ask for employees to do too much outside their job description. Employees will quickly know the difference between learning to do their job better and being forced to do an entirely different job they didn’t sign up for.

Time-bound – Be sure to state how often goals should be achieved. This helps employees balance working quickly and being thorough. Also, be weary of changing goals too often. An inconsistent approach to goals can make employees confused on what is expected.

Keeping expectations clear and fair is a simple idea for companies looking to retain their staff. Only when goals are the right mixture of SMART components will an employee feel satisfied with the content of their work.

Notice employee efforts

Regardless if it’s your first week at a job or if you’ve been working at the same company for decades, a simple “good job” or “thank you” from a superior goes a long way. It shows management cares about employees on a personal level and reaffirms that their efforts have been noticed. The options for rewards are plentiful, so we’ll dive more into that a bit later.

Give employees a voice

Acquisitions of big clients, changes in company structure, and enacting new laws can make employees’ jobs seem tumultuous. Every staff member contributes to your business, so their voices want to be heard when something is wrong.

Adopt an open-door policy so staff members can keep managers in the loop when something is making their jobs more difficult than it needs to be. During company meetings, allow everyone a chance to speak. This lets them voice their opinions while giving them the feeling their opinions matter and will be taken onboard.

Be sure to actually listen, too! If their complaints aren’t dealt with, they’ll begin to feel ignored – a huge factor in a poor staff retention rate.

Strategies for rewarding employees

Ensuring employees are happy is a key component of retention management, so a great technique to improve staff retention is rewarding hard workers and incentivising hard work. Good rewards can include awards, allowing a late arrival or early marks if goals are achieved, or even throwing office parties or shouting dinner to celebrate key milestones. For your biggest contributors of company success, big rewards such as giveaways, extra paid time off and vacations, can be a huge incentive.

Remember you can reward a single employee, a group, or even an entire department. The more incentives a staff member has to excel at his job, the happier they are, and the harder they work. Be sure to acknowledge staff when the company does well, too. If it was a great quarter, take the staff out for dinner, drinks, or any other work-appropriate getaway. Even simple rewards can be effective, like allowing your staff to dress casually on a weekday or giving them all a drink at the end of the week, demonstrate you recognise their efforts and the need for them to be happy at work.

A good office doesn’t have to exclusively give things out when goals are achieved, either. Most employees love getting a cake on their birthday, or when a little celebration is held in the office for a marriage or new parent. Being creative with awards help employees find joy in their work and shows the company cares about them.

Assets speak

The most comprehensive methods on how to retain staff can’t overlook spending a little extra on your employees. Pay definitely attributes to a worker’s wellbeing while on the job, especially with rent, student loans that must be paid over several years, and other bills looming over them. Regardless of how well a company treats their employees, workers can still search for better paying jobs and risk leaving your business. Maintaining great staff retention can sometimes require businesses shelling out cash to keep its workers.

But before you fork out a considerable amount to a staff member who is debating leaving, pitch other benefits. Companies often get perks at discounted rates, meaning you can offset the cost of keeping somebody with something else to give you both less of a financial burden. Offer them company assets so they don’t have to spend their own money on things they need, such as a company computer or vehicle. Give them a parking spot to avoid paying for tickets and parking fees. Offer extra time off, early departures/late arrivals to work, or an option to work from home. Even contemplate giving them stock options or discounts on good and services your company produces. Your assets are for keeping your business operating so they can occasionally be used to keep a valuable staff member who keeps your business running from leaving, too.

Debate using your company’s wallet

If all else fails to keep critical employees, consider giving them a raise. It’s expensive to replace an employee, so put the cost of a replacement in your calculations when seeing what you can offer them. When you’re ready, pitch the best salary package you deem appropriate while being sure to not overextend. Give them a reasonable offer, and if it’s not enough to keep them, then ask them to train a replacement as part of a handover before they depart. This can save you money and avoid an unproductive transition period while the replacement figures out the job.

Regardless, if your company tanks because employees are taking too much money away from conducting business, then all of your employees can lose their job. The most effective employee retention strategies have to know when to cut their losses, so always keep that in mind.

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