Did you know that 51% of employees are looking for a new job? Not only that, but according to the same Gallup poll, 68% of employees believe they are overqualified for the job they have. Even engaged employees are job hunting at an alarming rate—37%. Why? Employees changing jobs cite growth opportunities, pay and benefits, management, company culture, and job fit all as valid reasons for making a change.
As it turns out, work-life balance plays an even bigger role in retention than you’d expect. Long gone are the days of completely compartmentalizing work and wellbeing. More and more, employees are vocalizing their desire for secure and stable jobs that pay well and contribute to their personal wellbeing. And not surprisingly, that they’d be willing to leave their current employer for a more flexible work schedule or significant pay increase elsewhere.
So what’s a small business owner to do to retain employees? (Especially top performers!) The road most traveled is to look for perks to offer to make your company more attractive and keep good employees from leaving. Unfortunately, this will only get you so far. It’s true, perks are nice and can encourage retention. But providing an assortment of unique perks won’t keep employees long-term unless those perks meet essential employee needs.
Feeling hopeless? Don’t! As it turns out, this actually provides a great deal of insight into how to boost retention long-term.
The Secret to Retention
Want to know a secret? To really understand the best way to retain employees, you have to remember why they joined your organization in the first place. Your employees have wants and needs, and employment with you enables them to meet those wants and needs. In a nutshell, you’re just as useful to them as they are to you. When you cease to be useful (or become less useful than another employer!), that’s when employees start looking for a better (more useful) opportunity. The more useful you are, the more likely your employees will be to stay. These tips will help you and your employees meet each others’ respective needs to form a solid basis for long-term collaboration and shared success:
1. Talk about it
Just like in any relationship, communication is key! Talk to your employees about what knowledge, skills, and abilities they think would help them do their job better or make additional contributions to the organization. By involving them in the discussion and making decisions together about what training they receive, you’re giving them a sense of ownership over their work, their professional development, and their future.
2. Invest in your team
Provide coaching and training opportunities that bring value to your organization and the professional development of your employees. Sure, training may make your workers more employable elsewhere, but it also prepares them for a better future working for you. And you can increase the likelihood that your employees will use their training for your benefit by giving them immediate opportunities to put what they’ve learned to use and rewarding them when the new skills and extra effort pay off. Prompt application of what they’ve learned will help solidify their knowledge, while the positive reinforcement will encourage continued use of the new skills.
3. Shake things up
Involve employees in company initiatives that make use of their skills or teach them new ones. Not only will this help prevent their jobs from becoming too repetitive, but they’ll also gain valuable experience and form a connection to the organization that goes beyond their initial job duties.
4. Show them your “why”
Make work meaningful by highlighting the good that your organization does. This is especially important if your employees’ typical job duties feel mundane or uninspiring. If you’re paying someone to do a job, that job is essential to the mission of your organization. And that mission has value. Make sure employees know that their work–however repetitive or unexciting–matters. Take pride in the good you all do. Show your appreciation and gratitude. Recognize workers for a job well done. People want to feel appreciated, that they’re important, and that they’re doing valuable work. You can help fulfill those wants.
5. Get social
Encourage social interactions among workers. While money might be the primary reason people get jobs, it’s not the only reason. People tend to seek social connections and enjoy interacting with others. We like doing things with other people, and the workplace can be a great place to make friends, build community, and collaborate on a meaningful enterprise.
6. Reward a job well done
Offer bonuses or other incentives when your company meets its financial goals and employees meet their individual and team goals. Bonuses motivate employees to be more engaged and productive by rewarding them with a tangible return on their investment.
7. Did we mention rewards?
If feasible, offer raises to account for cost-of-living increases, job performance, and individual accomplishments. Like bonuses, raises encourage efficient and productive work by rewarding it. Granted, huge pay increases aren’t always possible, especially small to medium-sized businesses. As much as we all want to pay higher salaries and wages, sometimes the funds just aren’t there. If you’re unable to offer substantial raises or bonuses, the non-monetary rewards mentioned above become all the more useful and important.
Takeaway: Stay Useful
There’s no guarantee that every hire will be a good fit or stay with your company for as long as you’d like, but there are things you can do to stay useful to your employees to help improve retention. (And cut down on its costs!) Remember, your employees want to succeed in their professions as much as you do in your business. By aligning their individual success with your organizational success, you give them a huge incentive to stay, improve their skills, and put those skills to good use in your organization.
Finally, if you’re not exactly sure how you can best be useful to your employees, ask them! Stay Interviews are a proven way to learn and understand what your employees hope to get out of being employed with you. Learn more about retention by logging in to your HR Support Center.
Want to share your own experiences overcoming retention challenges? Comment below to share what has worked for your business! Want more tips to help your workplace reach its full potential? Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to make sure you never miss a beat!