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Employee retention strategies and ideas

If there’s a high-turnover in your business, it is not necessarily your hiring practices that need rethinking.

A whole lot of ink and HTML gets spilled worrying about how to correctly hire employees, finely picking apart and attempting to optimise every step of the recruitment process. The logic goes that if you don’t hire the best people, then your business as a whole won’t be producing its best work. This is definitely true. But it’s no use investing so much time on hiring superstar employees if you can’t keep hold of them. Employee retention strategies often get ignored in favour of flashy new hiring methods, but the focus should be the other way round. In fact, you will save a lot of resources by devoting more energy to employee retention than to recruiting new team members. So what can you do to make your team members not want to quit?

Here are some of key employee retention ideas:

The Mission

Make your company mission clear to the people you work with. Then say it again. And again. If you don’t articulate your mission, then there is no chance that it will resonate with your employees. For employees to feel the right degree of motivation, they need to feel as though they are a part of something bigger. There needs to be a sense of purpose to the work that they do.

Behaviours and Values

Behaviours and values form a core part of your company culture and can work as a really effective litmus test for which employees you want to keep hold of and which ones are most likely to stay. It’s unrealistic to expect someone to remain a part of a team whose core values they cannot identify with. This is why it is so important to be very deliberate about setting out those behaviours and values. You don’t want to risk alienating the right people for your business.

Alignment and Clear Goals

You have to have across the board agreement on what success and failure look like. Alignment is important on any team within your business and even more vital at the company-wide level. A lack of alignment can be incredibly frustrating as employees always need to know what their goals are.

The political squabbles that arise out of disagreements within the workspace will sow the seeds of discord that drive employees out. If the goals are clearly set out before a project has the potential to go awry, there can be less contention about who or what is to blame.

As Steve Jobs put it, “If you wanna hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy. The best ideas have to win, otherwise good people don't stay.”

Progression and Development

When thinking about employee retention ideas, it is important to remember that no one is only working for your company because they’re super passionate about what you do. No, they are mainly there so that they can progress to their next goal in life. And it’s your job as a business leader, to help them get there.

The more you encourage employees to develop and to pursue their own personal goals, the more they will respect you as an employer and the more likely they will display loyalty and not think about leaving. Find out where they want to get to and then help them get there via a personal development plan.

In the words of Richard Branson, “train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to”.

Input and Agency

A key part of any employee retention programme is making sure that employees feel that they have the ability to affect change within the organisation. They don’t want to just be passengers, they have to feel as though they have input.

In order to achieve this, you must ensure that employees from across the organisation are involved in decision-making. Another strategy is simply being open and keeping your team informed about what is going on across the company. The more transparent the leadership, the more engaged the employee because they will be able to get a clear sense of how their work is contributing to the business as a whole.  

Proactive Leadership

Everyone inside your company should feel comfortable sharing their concerns with the leadership, be it on the company-wide or team level. Be approachable and make it clear that employees come first—their issues are your issues.

There’s the old adage, that often makes the rounds of memes on LinkedIn, that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. And there is a sense of logic to this. More often that not, an employee will know what their role will consist of before they join an organisation whereas they cannot pre-empt their working relationships.

Feedback

Employees need to know whether or not they are doing a good job. If you go too far with a if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it attitude then good workers will feel unvalued and bad ones will only get worse.

If a star employee feels as though the company needs them as much as they need the company, then it will be harder for them to think about leaving. Be open, be honest and show your colleagues that they are important to the business.

Hygiene Factors

Retaining the employees you have should always be a high priority, so it’s important to reflect that materially.

Pay your employees market rate salaries or more so that the average offer coming in from recruiters won’t be tempting enough to make them turn their heads.

Create an office space that people want to come into every day of the week. From a coffee machine to an array of plants, have things that show your employees that you are thinking about them and what they want.

Treat your staff and help them to develop friendships that make work more than just a place to earn money. If people enjoy the environment they work in and the people they work with, then they are far more likely to stay.

The Wall Street Journal also has a useful guide with a whole host of employee retention techniques and tips, from free bagels to embracing flexible working.

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