High turnover in an organization can cause all kinds of problems. It can result in mission-critical work being delayed, the morale of remaining employees suffering and a general decline in an employer’s brand – not to mention the high cost of recruiting, onboarding, and training new employees.
In some cases (such as an employee returning to school or relocating with a spouse) there isn’t much an organization can do to prevent someone from moving on. In many instances, though, there are ways for employers to reduce voluntary turnover through strong employee retention efforts.
Here are seven things you can do to engage your employees and improve retention.
Have a Solid Onboarding Program
Being a new employee can be tough. No matter how suited they are to tackle the technical challenges that a position presents, entering a new workplace can make anyone feel like a stranger in a strange land. That’s why having a solid onboarding process is so important, and that means something that goes far beyond simply completing paperwork and receiving an employee handbook.
“Employees yearn to feel connected to their roles, colleagues, managers and companies. The higher the emotional connection, the higher the likelihood they will remain loyal to the brand,” writes Robert Gabsa, a workplace consultant for Gallup, which found that only 12 percent of employees thought their organization had a great onboarding process. “By creating better experiences in the onboarding phase, companies can build these emotional connections early in the employee journey.”
Make sure you introduce new employees to the team, have their work area ready and stocked, craft a plan for their first several weeks with the company, talk about culture, values and mission – the point is to make new employees feel like they are welcome and that they are being set up for success within the organization.
Have Values and Live by Them
Your company’s values provide employees with a roadmap for how to work within the organization – how to make decisions, how to approach challenges, how to interact with each other. At least they should. Too often, though, an organization’s values are hollow statements that sound good but aren’t backed up by action. Having sincere, unique core values – values that truly guide the organization – can improve employee retention.
On the hiring side, you can use your values as a metric for determining fit when interviewing candidates. When you hire someone who is aligned with your values, they are more likely to be engaged in the work they are doing. And engaged workers are more likely to stay with an organization. Values also give employees something to rally around, strengthening important social bonds between people in the organization.
“Employees with numerous links to others in their organization and community are more embedded and would find it more difficult to leave,” according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
Focus on Your Culture
Whether it’s intentionally designed or it just emerged on its own, your company has a culture – “the aligned values, beliefs, behaviors and experiences that make up the organization’s environment,” leadership expert Brent Gleeson writes in Forbes. When it comes to employee retention, a well-defined culture is best. Similar to having actionable values, an intentional culture allows you to hire for fit (in addition to technical skills, of course).
In advocating for strong, intentional cultures, Gleeson cites a study that found “employees who fit well with their organization, coworkers, and supervisor had greater job satisfaction, were more likely to remain with their organization, and showed superior job performance.”
Build Great Managers
There’s an old adage: You don’t quit your job, you quit your boss. And there’s plenty of truth to it. According to SHRM, “The quality of employees’ relationships with their supervisors is an important driver of turnover. Evidence also suggests that a worker’s satisfaction with his or her boss, the quality of exchanges between them and fair treatment by supervisors are related to retention.”
With that in mind, it’s clear that fostering good managers – managers who embody the company’s values, lead by example and facilitate the success of their employees – through training and evaluation should be a key component to an organization’s retention strategy.
“Good bosses know and value the unique abilities of their employees, and learn how to best integrate them into an effective action plan to maximize productivity,” Catherine Morin and Christopher Sirk of CRM.com write. “They define and communicate clearly specific objectives with their staff. They empower employees by delegating responsibilities and sharing knowledge.”
Commit to Work-Life Balance
Of all the perks you can offer to employees, those that support a healthy work-life balance are among the most attractive. One survey found that a job that allows greater work-life balance is “very important” to 53 percent of employees. Another found that 51 percent of employees would change jobs to have flextime, 37 percent would change jobs for the option to work remotely part time, and 35 percent would change jobs if it allowed them to work offsite full time. Offering remote work options, flexible schedules, paid time off and other work-life balance perks can go a long way in supporting employee retention efforts.
Offer Development Opportunities
Providing on-the-job training and career development opportunities shows that you’re actively investing in the success of your workers both today and down the line, which can strengthen employee engagement and boost retention.
Making these opportunities available to employees “generally decreases the desire to leave,” SHRM reports. “This may be particularly critical in certain jobs that require constant skills updating.”
Keep Compensation Competitive
People weigh many factors when deciding where to work. While some workers may care more about work-life balance, culture or values, compensation is usually high on the list. Offering a competitive combination of salary and benefits – along with rewards for employees who exceed goals – is key to recruiting and retaining employees.