Employee Retention Is More than Money
It’s not easy to attract the right mix of talent to drive your company forward, yet without the right retention strategy, there’s always a risk your best assets will walk out the door and you’re right back at square one. Many companies focus all of their efforts on the hiring process. It makes sense. After all, you want to hire the best. But the hiring process takes around 30 days, depending on the position and market, and the retention process is ongoing for years. Yes, there is a process to retaining employees, and you need to master it if you want to reduce costs and boost corporate productivity.
Let’s face it: employees are expensive. They’re expensive to hire, expensive to train and expensive to keep happy so they won’t leave. It’s more than expense, too. Employees are human and have feelings, goals, a lifestyle to support, and expectations. You can throw all the money in the world at them, but if you want loyal employees, you’re going to have to give them more. In fact, 86 percent of millennials, the largest working generation, said they would leave their current job if the company didn’t offer career development and training.
Tip #1: Show You Really Care
In the not-so-distant past, companies thought a ping pong table, catered lunches and Friday happy hours were the carrots to dangle in order to retain employees. Who doesn’t love a friendly game of Nerf guns to liven the afternoon slump? While these tactics were fun and may have fostered comradery, many didn’t seem to do much to actually retain employees. For example, one study showed that fewer than one-third of employees who were given access to an on-site gym ever used it, even while it cost employers a pretty penny.
It seems the party-like atmosphere wasn’t what people really wanted in the long run. Employees quickly either got bored with the corporate game room or determined these “perks” were more akin to a clever manipulation strategy to keep them at the office longer. On the flipside, there are plenty of extras that show the company truly values its employees by offering job perks that contribute to their work-life balance.
For instance, Business News Daily found a pet-friendly environment, massages and yoga, no official work hours, plenty of time off, extended maternity and paternity leave, onsite health services, continuing education, and student loan assistance are among the most successful perks offered by leading companies. These types of benefits are not only attractive to prospective talent, but they can be a revealing expression of corporate philosophy. If the company tells its employees it cares about them, these types of employee-focused perks prove it.
Interestingly, Harvard Business Review discovered that employees with more paid vacation days were more likely to work at a faster pace and have a higher quality of focus. Gallup reported that 59 percent of millennials believe opportunities to learn and grow are “extremely important” to them when applying for a job, placing it in the top three most important factors in job retention for all millennials. CIO referenced the Center for American Progress report that says that not only does employee retention strategies help companies reduce turnover costs, but “Family-friendly policies such as paid family leave and workplace flexibility help retain valuable employees who need help balancing work and family.”
The right perks work.
Tip #2: Make Reviews More Regular
Annual reviews aren’t going to cut it. They aren’t effective, your employees don’t like them, and if you’re honest, neither do you. According to Gallup, 26 percent of employees say their performance is reviewed less than once a year, while 48 percent say they are reviewed annually. Only 14 percent of employees strongly agree that performance reviews actually motivate them to improve. According to Gallup, here’s why: “For employees, annual performance reviews are like walking into the unknown: sitting down for a long meeting with a manager they may not have talked to in a while, trying to remember what goals they set months ago, defending mistakes they can’t fix and figuring out how to bring up pay in a way that isn’t awkward.”
Managers need to continually provide feedback for employees to improve and feel valued. No one wants their efforts to be ignored. Regular reviews not only allow for more face time and ongoing dialogue, but it shows employees that managers see them. Not in a creepy big brother sense, but that their contributions are making a difference. Regular meetings also help ensure employees and managers are on the same page, working towards the same goals, within the overall corporate mission. Issues can be identified and course-corrected sooner as the employee learns more quickly from his/her mistakes before they can cause significant repercussions.
Tip #3: Get The Team Together
Employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are nearly three times as likely to be engaged. Monthly team meetings are a great way to keep a pulse on your team and get in front of any obstacles or issues early on. Just as with the performance reviews, the sooner potential problems can be identified within the team, the sooner the team can devise and execute a plan to mitigate them before they impact the project or the business. Face time also increases transparency, breaking down digital personas and increasing trust among team members.
Stand-up meetings, all-hands-on-deck meetings, monthly round-tables and the like are all effective ways of getting the team together on a regular basis to hash through issues, give run-downs on current projects, find support and stay on track. They are also the ideal way to communicate what’s happening on a broader corporate scale.
Not all team meetings are effective or impactful, however. If you want to improve engagement, consider banning devices, including computers. It’s easy for people to hide behind their screens, pretending to be taking notes when they’re not listening or participating. Instead, ask team members to come to the meetings prepared with any reports, updates and questions.
As a manager, begin the meeting with a recap of the week or month, give relevant updates, and take the time to call out employee achievements. Show appreciation, discuss how contributions are or aren’t meeting team and corporate goals, and brainstorm ideas on how the team can improve. Allow every employee some time to speak, leaving time for questions and comments. Your goal for every meeting is to have each team member walk out feeling heard, motivated and supported.
Tip #4: Get Them Involved
The success of your company does not lie on one man’s or woman’s shoulders. It’s a team effort in every sense of the word. Each employee has a role to play in moving the company forward, so make sure they know what that role is and give them a route to get there. The Balance says, “Employee involvement is the difference between sad and unhappy foot draggers and engaged, excited employees who were trusted to give their input.” What a visual.
- Gallup offers some interesting insight:
- Only 50% of employees strongly agree that they know what’s expected of them at work
- Employees who create their goals with their manager follow through on them with more enthusiasm
- If managers fail to involve employees in setting expectations, employees are less likely to be engaged at work – and their companies are less likely to reap the benefits of engagement
Managers must allow employees to get involved in their own success. When employees are successful, so too the company will be. Regularly ask them for their ideas on how they can make contributions towards specific projects. Let them set their own goals with your guidance, just as long as the goals align with corporate vision and strategy. If change is on the horizon, bring them in early to discuss the ramifications and to see if they have any input into how the change can be embraced in their particular role.
Getting them involved has benefits to the entire team. If you want them to work well on a team, make sure they feel part of that team. By fostering a culture of collaboration, where everyone has a voice and is respected, each team member believes they are a valued member. They must all appreciate each others’ contributions, understanding that in order for the team to succeed, they must all get involved and do their part.
Maximizing employee retention should be a top priority, particularly for IT companies who are competing for limited talent. It’s not enough to just get them in the door. In order to get the most return on your investment, take time to develop an employee-first culture. They are your most valuable and costly asset. Treat them right and employee retention won’t be such a struggle.