What comes to mind when you think about your most valuable business asset? Maybe it’s the latest and greatest technologies, your strong brand recognition, or your strategic partners and investors. While these elements are all important, any company can invest in a game-changing workflow automation solution, consult an advertising agency to boost brand awareness, or solicit funding from a venture capitalist firm. Your most valuable asset is your people. Each with a unique set of skills and experiences, your employees serve as the foundation of your business – and without them, your company may very well cease to exist.
However, today’s low unemployment rates and competitive labor market are creating an employee retention epidemic. In fact, a Compdata report showed that U.S. employee turnover reached an all-time high of 19.3% in 2018. Gone are the days when acquiring top talent was the top priority for HR departments and hiring managers. Now, companies must also focus on retaining that talent. Not only is employee turnover detrimental to morale, but it also incurs high costs due to the time, resources, and effort spent finding, onboarding, and integrating a replacement.
To prevent employees from departing for seemingly greener pastures, employers must hone their company culture – they need to create a unique, rewarding, and engaging work environment that cannot be found anywhere else. Case in point: according to a new Strategy& survey, 80% of employees said their organization’s culture must evolve in the next five years for their company to succeed, grow, and retain the best people (and, that percentage is up from 51% in 2013). Even if you think your company culture is already second-to-none, consider these eight proven tactics for keeping your valued employees on board.
- Start Small: Even the smallest “work perks” can make big impacts on company culture and employee retention. This could be as simple as offering free snacks in the breakroom, implementing a casual dress code, hosting a monthly happy hour, or offsetting parking costs.
- Diversify Tasks: Prevent stagnation by encouraging employees to engage in a variety of tasks. Allow them to “wear multiple hats,” collaborate with other departments, and pursue additional learning opportunities and training. Permitting your staff to operate with some level of autonomy will also help increase engagement and build trust.
- Demonstrate Core Values: It is increasingly important to employees, especially younger generations, that their employers’ values align with their own. If you haven’t already, identify five or so core company values, and weave them into everything you do – from day-to-day work to support for a local charity. Establish a reason for employees to work for you, other than to drive revenue.
- Offer Flexibility: Boost employee happiness and reduce stress by helping them strike the right balance between work and home life. Allow employees to work from home when needed and prevent burnout by offering paid time off (PTO).
- Recognize Good Work: The lack of recognition is the top reason employees quit their jobs. Make your staff feel appreciated through formal and informal recognition. Offer a cash bonus or a day off work for meeting a sales goal, or simply send an email shoutout when someone goes above and beyond their call of duty.
- Address Wellness: Healthier employees are generally happier and more likely to stick with your organization. Beyond providing health insurance and traditional benefit packages, demonstrate your commitment to total employee wellness. Monthly yoga classes, free annual biometric screenings, and discounted gym memberships are just a few ideas for creating your own wellness program.
- Ask for Feedback: What better way to engage your employees and make your culture thrive than to solicit their input? Conduct a monthly survey, hold regular 1:1 meetings between managers and their team members, and host annual “stay interviews” where current employees share their reasons for remaining with your company. Encouraging employees to voice their opinions – and following through with addressing their wants and needs – goes a long way.
- Make Work Fun: If employees spend 40 hours a week at work, why not make it fun? Host a quarterly team breakfast, arrange an annual staff retreat, and celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, and holidays (bonus points if you provide cake). It sounds cliched, but “work hard, play hard” is an excellent mantra for organizations with unique and exciting company cultures.
These are just a few easy steps you can take to increase employee retention, but you must also understand that staff turnover is an inevitable part of business. Prepare your company to weather these undesirable situations with a solid recruiting strategy and hiring toolbox. Know where to look for qualified talent who can quickly replace your departing employees – whether through referrals, a traditional job board, or an industry-focused talent community. Further, assess each candidate to not only ensure they have the right skillsets, but also mesh well with your company culture. After all, you want to keep them onboard for a long and rewarding career with your company.
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