An increasingly global economy combined with the stresses of a global pandemic have put talent retention back in the spotlight. Employees are feeling disengaged, burnout is high and connectedness to culture is harder to establish and maintain. This makes keeping your best people a top business priority because when everything around them is turbulent, people take a close look at what is important. And you want your people to understand that they are important to you and your business. Here are 10 ways to convey that message loud and clear:
1. Get to Know Employees As Individuals
Listening to employees is always important. For retention purposes it’s paramount. Your people’s wants and needs are as unique as they are. Seek to understand each person’s goals and motivations as well as their fears and potential obstacles to success. Set aside time for deeper conversations that address these issues and assure your people that they have a place in the organization for the long term. When people feel understood, they are far more likely to open up about what they are struggling with, and this can lead to proactive career discussions that motivate them to stay with your organization.
2. Provide Sufficient Growth Opportunities
Invest in your people by establishing career paths for a wide range of interests and motivations. Promoting from within and allowing people to build their skills and knowledge across the organization helps employees feel valued. In addition to formal training and education investment, think too about everyday education opportunities and integrated learning. Stretch assignments, innovation initiatives and encouraging questions are ways to invest in employees on a daily basis and give them a powerful incentive to stay with the organization.
3. Engage in Regular Pulse-Taking
Stay attuned to how employees are feeling. Just as the business environment changes rapidly, so too can satisfaction levels. Regular conversations with people are a great first line of defense against an undercurrent of dissatisfaction, however these should be followed up with other mechanisms to understand what is going on within the culture. Surveys and quick polls can uncover patterns and trends through data analysis. Likewise stay interviews conducted by neutral parties may elicit more authentic responses versus one-on-one conversation. These types of activities can identify issues before they lead to turnover.
4. Identify Retention As a Strategic Issue
A talent strategy that is aligned to the business will help consolidate and direct your retention efforts. This means that senior management need to be as committed to retention as individual people managers. Set a tone-from-the-top and role-model behaviour that demonstrates the value of every person within the organization. Include retention stats with other business metrics. And celebrate tenure with personalized stories that highlight employee’s career progression and signal to the rest of the team what they can achieve within the company as well.
5. Acknowledge Excellent Work
It’s important that people know their work is appreciated. By acknowledging excellent work managers ensure their people feel valued and they are more inclined to stay. It also gives rise to conversations about how to build on their success and leverage their strengths for future assignments. Effective recognition practices also remind managers to pay attention to the competencies within the organization and think about the skill pipeline that exists and how to provide meaningful work that will keep top employees fully engaged.
6. Develop Great People Managers
“People leave mangers, not companies.” This famous quote is oft repeated and is vitally important to employee retention. Just as you should be focussing on development opportunities for all people within the organization, so you need to focus on great leadership skills for current and future managers. Provide mentoring opportunities and a wide range of formal leadership programs and systems that encourage healthy communication and a culture of openness and transparency that helps top employees flourish.
7. Encourage Connection to the Team
Just like people stay for great mangers, they stay for great teams as well. When a team is functioning well, achieving their goals, and genuinely enjoying their professional relationships it’s motivating and invigorating, and people are less likely to look for outside opportunities. Promote teamwork, collaboration and encourage decision making. Think about team dynamics when hiring externally or making internal moves and include the team in these types of decisions. Regularly scan for discord, put in place systems for people to express their dissatisfaction, and create a track record of dealing with issues quickly and concretely.
8. Manage Change Proactively
Workplaces deal with change, big and small, every day. Employees look to organizational leaders for direction, insight and assurance during times of change, so it is important to manage change effectively. Keep people informed, be as open and transparent as possible. Shut down the rumour mill quickly and provide lots of opportunity to address questions. These actions will ease uncertainty and anxiety and encourage your top people to stay committed to the organization.
9. Pay Attention to Perks
People like perks, and these can be a determining factor in motivating employees to stay. Flexible schedules, parental leave, sick leave, and remote work are now not so much perks, as they are expectations and your policies and practices need to keep pace. Wellness programs that include stress management and fitness are popular as is anything that promotes a healthy balance between work and home life. Stay connected to your employees’ needs and expectations and adjust your workplace for maximum engagement and morale.
10. Mind Your Culture
Ultimately it is your culture that will bolster your efforts to retain top talent. Regularly scan your people for satisfaction factors that create a strong foundation for building trust within your organization; creating experiences that underscore the importance of people how your people contribute to your success each and every day.
By focusing on employee retention, organizations can realize increased performance, higher motivation and improved outcomes. For more insight on your culture, and retention efforts specifically, Great Place to Work® gives you the tools and data you need to understand your organization's culture – and guides you on the best actions to take to preserve what's working and improve what isn't.
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Credit: Nancy Fonseca