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The Most Effective Employee Retention Strategies You’re Probably Not Doing

Maggie Wenthe

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You’ve attracted all the right people. You’ve got a high-performing team working hard for the health and longevity of your company. Now you just have to figure out how to keep their performance high and retain them.

If that sounds like a tall order, you’re right. Having the right employee retention strategy is a key component of maintaining a strong, agile team.


Cutting Back on Employee Turnover

Employee turnover is a big problem and every organization knows it. But not every organization knows how to reverse it. You invest a ton of time and money into training your people for their jobs only for them to turn around and leave for another opportunity. So why does this keep happening and how can you avoid it in the future?

According to a recent WorldatWork Employee Wellbeing study, organizations with an integrated approach to wellbeing offer a higher number of wellbeing programs and report lower voluntary employee turnover rates. The same study says that high voluntary employee turnover is greater in traditional wellness organizations versus organizations with an integrated approach to employee wellbeing by more than 10 percentage points.


Common Reasons Why Employees Leave

  • Lack of appreciation. If employees are doing a great job but are never getting any reassurance that what they’re doing matters, why would they continue to perform? It’s important to make sure they know how their work aligns with the company goals and objectives—the bigger picture. According to a study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology about gratitude and motivation, giving employees a simple “thank you” makes a big difference in employee motivation. Appreciating your employees’ contributions to the organization increases their feelings of self-worth, and, along with that, their overall performance.
  • No career advancement path. If you don’t provide this structure for your employees, they’re likely to feel stuck with a bad manager because they don’t know where else they could go in the organization. And that might have them out the door looking for an employer that helps them envision a career future for the long-term.
  • No flexibility. Your employees aren’t workhorses, so don’t treat them like they are. There are many facets of an employee’s life that you need to take into consideration when asking them to consistently do their very best work. Kids, volunteering, higher education and social relationships are all commitments that your employees have and that’s what makes them well-rounded individuals.
  • Bad management. If employees are stuck with a manager who doesn’t take the initiative to develop and grow his or her team, those employees become disengaged in their work. If employees have a manager who encourages development and strives to create meaningful professional relationships, they are likely to remain loyal to the organization, do their best at their job and be less likely to leave for monetary compensation.
  • Compensation. Sometimes, it’s as simple as they’re not getting paid enough. According to a recent Gallup study about retaining employees, 54% of employees who are disengaged would leave their company for a raise of 20% or less, versus only 37% of engaged employees would leave for the same pay increase elsewhere. However, if you implement more effective employee engagement or retention strategies, compensation won’t be the most important factor for an employee deciding whether they should stay or go. Immersing your employees in a culture that fosters development, recognition and mutual respect is one way to capture their loyalty and retain it.

What Today’s Employees Are Looking For

When most people think of employee retention strategies, they think of things like monetary compensation, service award programs and benefits.

But what does it really mean to the employee? All that is great for recruiting, but after they’re in the door, do they really remember all that you offer?

What can you do as an employer of choice to really keep your employees—even so much that they refer others to your organization? Active employee recognition and timely appreciation certainly plays a big part. But do you rely on the employee’s immediate supervisor to give this recognition?

"People don't leave bad companies, they leave bad managers." – Marcus Buckingham

Today’s employees are looking for:

  • Achievable performance and productivity goals
  • Career development opportunities
  • A chance to improve personal wellness through work
  • Volunteerism and giving back opportunities

Techniques for Effective Employee Retention

  1. Autonomous recognition. Most manager spot awards or peer-to-peer programs rely on a person to make a decision: is what the employee did enough to warrant recognition? Every manager has a different scale. Autonomous recognition is more systematic or performance-based.
     
  2. Consolidate the view. You’re probably doing a lot of little things to let employees know they’re doing a good job, but to really impact employee retention, they really have to see the big picture and all the benefits they’re getting. And this needs to happen more than once a year on the annual benefits statement. With a tool that consolidates view, the whole organization can see how every employee is doing on an individual level and at the company-wide level without the burden of pulling all the metrics from different sources.
     
  3. Flexibility - Flexibility means more than just flexible schedules. It’s more about what your employees can do with the time they’re in the office. It could mean wellness classes, lunch-and-learns or even volunteer hours during work hours. The traditional 8–5 doesn’t exist anymore. The things employees are involved in outside of work helps with their mental clarity while they’re at work, which is a win-win for you both. You might know that your employees are involved in things outside of work, but you’re not doing anything about it. How can you help them feel like their needs are met without using strictly compensation?
     
  4. Career development – Are you catering to your employees’ intrinsic need to better themselves? Are you giving them opportunities to grow, career path development, leadership competency modeling or offering certifications? What can you continue to offer to entrench them in your culture and show them that you care?

Engagement Leads to Commitment

Touching on all areas that are important to the individual will help ensure you’re meeting your employee’s needs. It will also make it extremely hard to leave–the pastures aren’t necessarily greener at another organization that simply pays more. Your team members will know it when you focus on all areas of their lives and ensure their needs at every level in the hierarchy are met.

By reinforcing purpose, improving satisfaction, driving productivity and promoting a culture of recognition, you’ll build a strong, engaged workforce ready to accomplish anything.

Maggie Wenthe's picture

Maggie Wenthe

Maggie strives to help the world understand the power behind personalized motivation that aligns people with business goals to drive powerful results. As the leader of Marketing Strategy at ITA Group, she analyzes market trends to develop world-class solutions that help Fortune 1000 companies motivate and engage their employees, channel partners and customers. She is certified through the Incentive Marketing Association, the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, as well as Pragmatic Marketing Level VI. Between marketing and three little boys, Maggie doesn't have free time. But when she can find a few minutes, she loves listening to audiobooks on marketing, business and sci fi thrillers.

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