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Four Considerations for Employee Retention

rəˈten(t)SH(ə)n/ noun

  • the continued possession, use, or control of something.
  • the fact of keeping something in one's memory.
  • the action of absorbing and continuing to hold a substance.

Employee retention is about an organization keeping its employees.

Retention and turnover can be measured rather simply by analyzing the number of people who stayed employees from the beginning to the end of some period of time (e.g., January 1st through December 31st). Retention is a highly effective leadership strategy to have in your tool kit; like revenue, base cost and profitability—it can be measured.

Do you know what your retention rate is? Do you care? I was talking to a CEO who has a turnover rate over 115% and stated that was “just the nature of our industry.” Perhaps.  Lowering the turnover percentage creates a work environment that employees—particularly the more talented ones—want to remain in for the long haul. Benefits include: increasing productivity, substantially reducing recruiting costs and significantly boosting morale. Best-in-class organizations know their ongoing retention rate, and set goals to increase its year-over-year.

If creating an environment where good and great employees wish to stay is important, keep reading. You can decide for you and your organization. If it is important, here are a few considerations.

According to a major recruiting firm there are four significant drivers of employee retention:

  • On-boarding
  • Corporate culture
  • Employee communication
  • Teamwork

In as much as these are areas which you can assess and/or review, update and positively impact your retention, we may suggest a few simple considerations outlined below that can be done today.

Identify who are the key, high performing employees? 

You know them—write down three to five names right now. Confirm this list with your leadership team. Once the list if finalized, go talk to these people. Ask them why do they stay?  What is it about your company or organization that they appreciate, enjoy or like about working in your group, team, department or company?

Write down what they share with you. Share the items with your peers and your leadership team. Take some actions based on the feedback/input. Make sure your colleagues recognize these actions are based on what you heard and what was requested—people like being heard.

We recently completed this exercise and here are some of the items great employees shared:

  1. Ownership and autonomy

    People will be accountable—in the right environment—and this statement is not talking about owning the company, but rather a sense that helping the organization thrive, which benefits the individual employees as much as it does you. This can be achieved by placing more responsibility (and therefore trust) in their hands when it comes to decision making.  Employees who know how they impact the bottom line will be engaged and stay.

  2. Convenient work arrangements

    Even to a dedicated employee, work can sometimes be viewed as an obstacle to other aspects of life. Enable flexible work schedules, consider telecommuting or working remotely. The good employees get the work done; you don’t need to see them to know they are productive.

  3. Consistent recognition

    Thanking valuable employees can be a simple and effective way to keep them motivated. Top employees need as much as all employees. Everyone should feel valued. Recognize (and reward) based on the merit of the action, the impact to the organization and customized for the individual. You know your people; do what you believe they wish. Make sure you regularly let them know you appreciate their efforts.

  4. Encouragement for both life and career ambitions

    Do you know what each of your employees want in their role with your team and/or company? Are you aware of their circumstances and situation in life as it relates to the work they are doing? Sit down with your employees to set goals for advancement in your company. Offer professional development and training to help them reach the milestones. Remind them of your programs related to support such as tuition reimbursement or paying for continuing education, certification courses, professional memberships or conferences.

  5. Remember perks don’t equal culture. Retention of your key employees takes more than a few “atta boys”; more than an occasional thank you, and or an annual cash award. A culture of retention is when your great people recruit and support each other to build great culture.  When you make efforts to retain employees who rank among your top talent, you're not just keeping your best and brightest around, other employees may be motivated too by seeing success and hard work rewarded and as a result, steps up their own efforts. These employee retention techniques work on many levels and have the potential to create a positive snowball effect on the entire company.