One of the primary functions of a human resources (HR) department is to keep employees from leaving. Companies can make their workforce stronger and invest in their future with comprehensive talent development programs, but investments like this are unwise if employees do not stay at the company for long periods of time. In the rapidly evolving business world, companies often have to turn to creative methods of retaining top talent. While some fundamental strategies serve as the backbone of an employee retention program, the focus should be on creative approaches to keeping employees engaged, fulfilled, and happy.
The following is a look at some key employee retention strategies:
1. Integrate retention into recruitment strategies.
Employee retention starts with the recruiting and hiring process. Companies often make the mistake of focusing their retention strategies on employees who have already been at the company for a long time. However, it is typically more productive to emphasize the benefits of long-time employment at the organization from the very beginning.
During every job interview, an employer should judge whether the candidate seems like someone ready to grow with the company or a person looking for something more transitional. By asking how the position fits into the person’s long-term plans, interviewers can learn a lot about the candidate’s intentions and motivations.
However, this approach does not mean that individuals should overlook promising employees that do not seem invested in a long-term position. Showing these candidates how the company offers opportunities for both personal and professional growth will demonstrate how the company can help them meet long-range goals.
2. Provide unconventional perks and benefits.
Companies need to think outside of the box to give employees some really unique benefits. In a way, larger companies need to behave like startups and appreciate how even small gestures, such as free lunch on Mondays or company happy hours at 4 pm on Fridays, can radically change a company’s culture. Some other unique perks include allowing people to bring their dogs into the office, or even offering doggy daycare. To get an idea of some of the innovate perks that employees may enjoy, HR departments can look at companies like Facebook and Google, which offer everything from gym memberships to dry-cleaning services. In addition, HR professionals should not overlook the simple act of asking employees what perks they would like.
3. Address the management skills of supervisors.
One of the old adages in the HR world is that people quit managers, not jobs. While this statement is undoubtedly an oversimplification, it points to an important point about the significance of excellent management skills. Great managers give employees a sense of ownership over their work and avoid micromanaging. When employees feel trusted to perform, they are motivated to work harder, and they typically produce a much better product than they would if micromanaged.
Excellent managers also understand how to communicate effectively to their employees. A worker should understand his or her responsibilities fully and feel heard when he or she brings up a question or concern. In addition, managers should recognize and respect a healthy work/life balance. Overly demanding managers create high rates of employee burnout. A key difference exists between a demanding supervisor and one with high expectations.
4. Offer realistic growth paths.
Employees will stay at a company if they know that they can advance their careers there. Many people choose to quit a job or look for a new position so that they can take on more responsibility and add additional skills to their resumes. This is where employee development opportunities become especially important.
HR departments need to go beyond creating opportunities for mentorship or continuing education and actually engage with employees to get a better sense of their objectives. Then, they must identify the steps necessary to get to these goals. If employees join a company because they hear a lot about the firm’s opportunities for advancement—only to see executive hires come from the outside—they may quickly begin looking for a new position. HR departments need to ensure that the opportunities they promise to employees actually exist.
5. Make the office a fun place to work.
Too often, companies think that work is work, which is to say that it is separate from fun. Allowing some time for fun activities, like birthday parties or company dinners, can show employees how much the company cares about them and their wellbeing. Such events should be viewed as rewards for being productive and meeting goals, but also as sources of motivation. When people feel that their office is a fun place to be, they are typically happier and, as a result, more productive. HR departments should get creative with how they create a fun environment, perhaps tying the initiative into community outreach. For example, the office could hold a canned food drive and declare a competition between different departments, with the winners getting a special treat, such as a dinner on the company dime. Opportunities for working together in the community, such as those offered by Habitat for Humanity, also create fun, teambuilding experiences that can make employees feel more fulfilled.