Client Marshall Asks: Everything I’m reading in today’s news tells me that employees are staying put right now but as the economy rebounds, a lot of people are going to go looking for new job opportunities. I don’t want to lose my best people. How can I keep them from jumping ship?
Joel Answers: You’re right to be concerned, Marshall, and smart to be planning ahead. In recent Wall Street Journal survey, 53% of HR professionals agree that turnover among top executives and managers will begin to rise this year.
The first thing you need to know is—it’s not just about the money. Compensation is important to people, of course. But keeping good employees involves important intangibles such as a safe, pleasant work environment, recognition for accomplishment, and family-friendly work schedules and benefits. Here are three employee retention strategies you could begin to implement in the short term that will entice your employees to stick around for the long term.
• Establish a formal recognition program
• Create work-life balance
• Provide development opportunities
1. Establish a formal recognition program. Linking pay to performance is an obvious first step, of course. And reward people for the company’s success as well as their own. You can do this in a number of ways. In addition to bonuses, I’d suggest things like extra time off, gift certificates for movies and dinners out, or a gym membership. And here’s a secret to making your recognition program even better—let the employees design it themselves. People support best what they help create, and if employees have the opportunity to say what makes them feel valued and appreciated, you’ll have a win-win.
2. Create work-life balance. You can do this first by making work a fun place to be. If employees dread Mondays and rejoice on Fridays, they are not having a good time at work. Establish or celebrate company traditions, such as a family-invited summer picnic or a Halloween costume contest. Put together teams of employees to volunteer for community events such as American Cancer Society’s Walk for the Cure or Relay for Life. Implement a schedule that includes core working hours with flexible starting and ending times. (Yes, your daughter’s dance recital is a major event.)
3. Provide development opportunities. Most employees want to be challenged and want to feel that they are on track to move up in the organization. You could start by giving your best people an opportunity to train others, to share best practices with subordinates and new hires. Also, provide a menu of training opportunities that might include anything from offsite seminars to tuition reimbursement and executive coaching. Give each employee an annual “growth allowance” and let them design their own personal development program.
Whether the economy is good or bad, employees want to utilize their talents and they want to grow. They will be most satisfied with and committed to your company if you have an employee retention plan that makes them believe you are equally committed to their success.
What’s your employee retention strategy? If you don’t have one, or if you do but you’d like to kick it up a notch, contact Joel for some personal recommendations.
Talkback: Have you used a retention strategy that worked? Share your best practices here.