An employee retention strategy is important for any company that is focused on the bigger picture of company success. As any company worth its salt knows, a happy, satisfied team drives a company to victory. Energy is catching, and when energy is high and positive, this feeling can spread across the whole company.
When employees can feel proud of the work that they are producing, they are much more likely to stay within the company, meaning that in the long-term, the company will not have to invest time and capital into needlessly onboarding fresh employees.
What is a retention strategy?
A retention strategy is a plan put in place by a company to retain employees for as long as possible, to maximise company success, employee achievement, and overall well-being – both for the business, and for employees.
Why do good employees quit?
It's impossible to ever eliminate the possibility ofemployees leaving. However, it is well within the capability of a company to hold onto the best employees it has for as long as possible.
Common reasons that employees leave for pastures new can include:
Lack of career advancement. Good employees will typically be 'constant learners', and if they feel that there is insufficient space to grow, they will begin to lose motivation for your company fairly swiftly. Making opportunities that employees can take as a chance to upskill, learn and gain confidence is a savvy policy; even if it results in employees ultimately leaving the company, the impression you have created will have far-reaching positive consequences. These consequences could include a positive recommendation to your company, or even an employee returning.
Using outdated technology. Working with exciting technology is another way to make employees feel motivated and enthusiastic about their work. Regularly updating systems not only shows that you care about what technology employees are working with, but also that you care about putting your company at the cutting edge.
Unthinking promotion. Often companies can make the well-meaning mistake of promoting great employees into management too fast and too soon. This move is often made in an attempt to give a great employee recognition, but it often results in an employee that has no previous experience in management being left to sink or swim, having a negative knock-on effect on the rest of the team. Great managers often need training, mentorship and support, before they can lead solo. This move can result in losing other employees under the management of an inexperienced manager, or losing the employee that has recently been promoted into a role that they are finding too complex and hot to handle without enough support.
Poor management. It's easy to assume when people quit their work, that they are quitting the job. However, it's often a case that they are quitting their management. The job specification would have been a key motivator for an employee in the recruitment stages, but the key motivator during the day-to-day is down to management, and as such if management isn't doing its job correctly, the employee is suddenly missing a large chunk of motivation.
Inadequate work-life balance. It's the little things that really count here. Paying attention to what could make employees feel happy; little treats or things that will make their lives easier will go an incredibly long way towards helping employees to feel appreciated. For example, this could be as simple as keeping a fridge in the office stocked with cold drinks, or giving them an extra day off on their birthday. However, it's important to keep perspective; don't feel like you have to throw money in the name of employee perks. You don't have to give out the full celebrity treatment to gain employee respect and regard. Ask for employee feedback, pay attention to what employees like to do, and what they discuss in the office. What do they tend to like to do in their free time or lunch breaks? Do they enjoy a coffee mid morning? Provide some great coffee. Do they like a beer after work on Friday? Consider taking them out to a decent bar once in a while to catch up outside of the office. As you get to know your team, you'll find it easier to predict what perks will go down well and will help to alleviate feelings of stress.
- Unclear mission statement. If employees cannot understand the common aims of the company, the goals of the department, or the mission of the business, they will not be able to effectively communicate with clients or associates, and will also find it difficult to retain enthusiasm if they are feeling muddled.
Remember, operating a business is a team player's game. Although every employee and department will have their own goals and strengths, you should all be moving within the same culture, with the same mission and raison d'etre. Invest time into listening to employee feedback, alongside regularly highlighting the key purpose of the business.
What makes a good employee retention strategy?
As far as creating a watertight employee retention strategy goes, your core drivers should be as follows:
#1 Salary and benefits must be competitive
In a competitive marketplace, employees are naturally going to be on some sort of radar for the 'best deal' in terms of their job role and salary.
By doing the correct and appropriate research into competitive rates of salary for the roles within your company, you will be reducing the risk of employees jumping ship. The same can be applied to benefits and bonuses. If your company is on a tight budget, consider costing for benefits that are not necessarily monetarily based, such as fun days out, or a team lunch or dinner.
#2. Reducing employee pain
To reduce or alleviate employee pain, you must first become accustomed to regularly checking in and communicating with your employee's and caring about their wellbeing. Once you begin to connect more, you will be able to tap into your employees highs, lows, happiness and frustrations.
When you are aware of a particular pain point for an employee, you can take the pressure off swiftly before it turns into a real bone of contention for the team.
For example, a common pain point for employees is not finding an equilibrium between work and life. That is, the employee feels as if they're exhausted and putting so much time and energy into their work that they cannot enjoy their free time.
To alleviate this pressure point, you could consider putting a time-cap on how long employees are staying in the office after hours, or by getting out of the office a little earlier on a Friday.
# 3. Hire the right person at the start
Recruitment is an investment process; the time and thought that is spent in the beginning will pay dividends in the long run. By hiring the right personat the start, you are not only increasing the chances of employee retention, but also decreasing time and effort spent into trying to make the wrong person right for your company. When you hire the right person, things have a way of naturally clicking into place.
However, this does not mean that all of your energy and focus must go into the recruitment process. This is an important start in the journey of the individual employee and for the rest of the team.
#4. Appreciation and recognition
Creating a culture of recognition within the workplace is important for maintaining employee morale and a dual sense of purpose. When recognition drops off, employees naturally feel less appreciated, and as time wears on, will naturally look to other work situations that may appreciate them more. Moreover, not recognising and appreciating employees could begin to create an overall malaise amongst the team that is difficult to shake off.
Recognition and appreciation go hand-in-hand, but are slightly different concepts, although both are integral to employee happiness and productivity. Small gestures go a long way to keeping employees both engaged and loyal.
Appreciation is all about overall feelings of gratitude and respect, letting employees know that they are valued within the company.
Recognition is when you recognise something particularly exceptional that deserves special commendation.