Hiring new employees can create a substantial strain on your company’s time and resources. Depending on the complexity of the job, it might be six months or longer before a new employee is fully independent and able to contribute in a significant way to daily operations.
Finding and replacing employees, especially the good ones, is especially frustrating for small businesses, who find themselves in a difficult position anyway, due to the uphill battle always being fought against larger organizations with more resources.
Coming up with effective ways to make good employees stay longer should be front and center of a business owner’s thoughts. The interesting part of the equation is that it’s not a simple matter of dollars and cents. Somewhere deep in the human psyche, we all want to feel successful, secure, and most of all, appreciated.
The following employee retention strategies should go a long way towards creating a competitive and long-lived workforce for your company.
Encourage Open Communication
Having regular meetings is an opportunity to encourage employees to ask questions and share thoughts on improvements. The secret is to make your meetings productive. Just gathering in a spot every week to twiddle thumbs doesn’t count.
In addition to group meetings, employees need to know that they can go to management with problems and suggestions. If you’re a manager who’s afraid of an open-door policy, it’s time to readjust your thinking.
An employee who feels comfortable going to management will let you know what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to incentives, morale, and more. What better way to find out what employees really think about the place they work? Imagine how much more efficient it would be to solicit ideas for improvement rather than to try and anticipate them in your own head.
Engage Your Employees
Even if your business involves employees standing at an assembly line doing repetitive work all day, figure out how to make the whole thing exciting and challenging.
Your business certainly has a story. Make your employees part of that historical culture. Presumably, you wouldn’t be where you are without them, so make sure they know it.
In a similar manner, keep them in the know of the larger scope of the company mission. Who do you serve? What problems do you solve for customers? You’ve got plans for the future, so let everyone in the company know what they are and contribute their own suggestions along the way. You never know where the next brilliant idea will come from.
Ensure Employee Satisfaction
Providing benefits is an expensive proposition, but the more you offer, the easier it will be to retain superstar workers. The basics you should have are health insurance, life insurance, and a retirement plan.
At the same time, keep in mind that some of the most effective enticements to stay may come at a very cheap price. How about free donuts on Fridays or a soda machine that doesn’t cost anything to use?
In today’s ridiculously connected world, consider whether or not telecommuting or flex-time might be appropriate. If you make it easier for an employee to accommodate their outside life around their work schedule, you’ll become a management hero in their eyes.
An employee with a good work/life balance is happier, more productive, and better for business. In fact, opting for a telecommuting policy can improve your employees’ productivity by 10 – 20 percent.
Train Your Employees
No matter how good a person is at a task, it’s bad for retention to let them toil away doing the same thing year after year. Providing cross-training for different jobs will expand your employees’ knowledge base and add value to the company. An added benefit is that when someone is sick, you’ve got another employee who can step right in without missing a beat.
It should go without saying that promoting from within is an excellent way to build team spirit and dedication to the company. Managers should also keep a keen eye for identifying and offering early encouragement to those employees who would be future management material.
In addition to cross-training and up-training, have you thought about tuition reimbursement for job-related degrees? A lot of businesses do it, and it pays off. It’s all about rewarding and encouraging personal development.
Hire an HR professional
At some point in the company’s growth process, maybe when you get near 100 employees, it makes sense to hire an HR professional. This person’s entire job is making sure employee benefits, perks, and reviews are handled fairly and efficiently.
This person should sit in on hirings and firings or maybe even handle that entire process as well. The reality is that a good HR manager will think of perks and programs that never would have crossed your mind.
A successful company doesn’t get to the top by the sheer magnificence of management alone. Without solid people to implement an owner’s grand vision, soon there will be no vision at all. Implementing the policies and procedures necessary to retain good employees isn’t something you do after everything else is finished. This needs to be a top priority.
About the Author
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.