A comprehensive people strategy is not comprehensive if it doesn’t include a proven retention strategy for holding on to the employees you’ve worked hard to recruit into your company.
That may sound logical, but many, if not most, small businesses overlook this critical component in their human resources program. In a recent Watson Wyatt survey, more than 50 percent of the responding companies said they didn’t have a formal strategy for retaining employees once they had been successfully recruited.
So why is that? I think the answer lies in a misperception about what factors actually drive retention.
Here are 7 vital employee retention strategies:
- Track retention. If you don’t measure it, it won’t improve. If you don’t know which line managers are doing well and which are not, you’ll not know who needs coaching. And if you don’t know where you stand relative to your industry, then you’re probably one of the worst.
- Train first level supervisors. I don’t claim to be an HR expert, but good supervisors are crucial to retention. Steve Miranda, who is an expert, says, “Employees don’t quite jobs. They quit managers.” That’s an overstatement, but not by much. Top on the list of best practices is regular meetings with employees about performance and expectations.
- Hire right in the first place. Too many employment interviews are about personality: whether the job candidate matches the manager’s personality. Focus more on job skills and you’ll get a better fit, which is more likely to lead to a long employment tenure.
- Offer employees a path to greater pay, recognition and responsibility. Not everyone can rise to CEO, but every employee can build skills. Find a way to recognize those skill and challenge employees to gain even more skills. That makes not only a better employee, but one who feels a sense of accomplishment and success.
- Look for ways to increase flexibility in work conditions. Can you accommodate non-work responsibilities and desires of your employees? Overly rigid work rules can drive good workers away.
- Look for stressors, and train leaders on how to help employees in stressful positions.
- Re-evaluate your benefits package. This isn’t to say that benefits need to be increased, but that the package should meet the needs of those employees most likely to leave the company. All too often, very senior managers think about what is important to them, not the 30-somethings who are considering changing jobs.
What’s not on the list? Salary. Sometimes you need to adjust total pay, but companies usually spend too much time thinking about pay and not enough time thinking about the other issues that make employees feel good or bad about their jobs.