The good news is that the economy is turning around. The bad news is that other companies are starting to hire again – and your employees might start looking to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. The benefits for retaining your qualified employees, as you know, are plenty. So how do you hang on to the ones you have? How do you create a workplace they enjoy? How do you keep turnover and recruiting costs down? Here are seven simple tips.
- Challenge Employees to Reach Their Potential
Your top employees want to be challenged, even if they don’t express it. Schools have followed this principle for decades – starting as early as first grade, gifted students get special challenges to keep them engaged. How many times has a kid been labeled a “troublemaker,” only to find out that the curriculum just wasn’t challenging? If it works for a 7-year-old, it will work in your organization.
Build a library that contains books about professional and personal development. Send your employees to seminars. Trust them to know their job, to do their job and to contribute to the company. Give them the freedom to make decisions, show them that there are opportunities for advancement and step out of the way. Your true top performers will take full advantage. Those who feel like they are in a dead-end position will walk out the door the first chance they get.
- Raise Up Leaders
People leave managers more often than they leave jobs. Maybe you are the only leader in your company, or maybe you have other managers with direct reports. Either way, your managers should be well-trained. Give them continuous development opportunities to help turn them into the kinds of managers you’re looking for.
You should be a good leader, too. Make the tough decisions. Don’t over-think a situation and drag it out instead of acting on it. If there are performance issues, address them. Nothing kills a team’s morale like an employee who doesn’t pull his or her weight.
- Listen Intently and Communicate Openly
What separates good employers from great ones? It all comes down to communication. Consistent, continuous messages are key, but you also need to allow for two-way communication. Be genuine with your delivery and open-minded enough to recognize and appreciate your employees’ thoughts and comments – both positive and negative. Engage with them. Listen to them. And give them a voice.
Many small businesses are hesitant to disclose financial information to their employees. But employees want to know if their livelihood is secure and if the company is performing well financially. Make it a habit to report on your company’s financials regularly. Even when the news isn’t great, they will appreciate your candor.
- Encourage Your Team to Share Their Ideas
Ask you team for their thoughts to improve the business. You may want to consider a company-wide brainstorming session. One Ohio business did this and generated more than 300 ideas about new products and services, better processes and procedures. When you give employees a voice, they feel empowered. And you will have a more engaged workforce that’s willing to help you improve the business.
- Embrace Change, but Create a Sense of Stability
Change happens. But if you are open about change and try to minimize its effect, your employees will feel much more comfortable with your company. Successfully managing change comes down to – you guessed it – communication.
And when something changes that you can’t avoid, set a good example by rolling with the punches.
- Rejoice in Others’ Achievements
Utilize an internal newsletter to share employee news and successes. Rea has and electronic one and the column that shares employee news is the most-read article in every single issue. If a newsletter isn’t right for your organization, find another way to share these successes. Maybe you can have a monthly luncheon or annual event. Whatever it is, show your team that you recognize and value what they do.
- Respect Your Differences
The generational differences in today’s workforce are vast. Many companies don’t recognize these differences and treat everyone the same. Successful companies acknowledge the complexities of a workforce that is diverse in age.
One size doesn’t fit all, and success looks different to everyone. The challenge is finding out what gives each employee a sense of stability, continuity, growth and success. And work with them to achieve it.
Employees are always looking to see if the grass might be greener somewhere else. This “free agent” mentality wasn’t present in past generations, and many small business owners are combating it for the first time.
Employ some small changes to create a workplace that your team is proud to work for, and you’ll find that retaining those top performers is a lot easier.
This article was originally published in The Rea Report, a Rea & Associates print publication, Spring 2012.
Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.