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28 tips for employee retention

Published 5th May 2014 by IIP Scotland

With news announced last week that the UK economy has grown by 0.8% in the first three months of 2014, it appears that we have finally turned the corner towards growth. UK companies may now find themselves in a stronger position, with funds available for recruitment and training that was not previously available.

Employees are well aware of this and may consider that the time is right to move on. A recent study by Investors in People found that 47% of employees were considering moving jobs in 2014, with nearly a quarter saying they would have moved 12 months ago had the economy been stronger.

Of the 24% of employees who expressly said that they were unhappy in their current positions, 47% blamed bad management.

So what to do about it?  Investors in People has come up with some useful tips to help stop you losing your most valuable assets to the competition.

1.  Give them an opportunity to innovate in fields beyond their normal role

You may be aware of companies that hold “FedEx Days” where employees have 24 hours to work on a project that has no direct link to their normal role. Allowing employees to diversify keeps their working day interesting and raises motivation levels.

2.  Give employees stretching, but achievable targets

But ensure that you give them room for error also. If it’s the first time they have done something, there is a high likelihood that they may make an error. Utilise SMART targets to ensure that employees are crystal clear on their objectives.

3.  Start at the beginning

Make sure that you employ the correct people for the position. Retention of employees will be far more challenging if you have employed people who aren’t that concerned about being there.

4.  Zero per cent turnover is not a target

It’s only your rising stars and top performers that you want to ensure stay with you. Should you have other capable people, but who could be easily replaced should they choose to leave, then allow them to go if they want.

5.  Why are they there?

Understand the motivations of your colleagues and team. Why do they turn up on a Monday morning? Understand what drives them and it will be far easier to find ways to motivate them.

6.  Ensure all are committed to producing quality work

If they are not, then chances are they will fall into the middle to low bracket of employee that you can afford to lose, not your top performers.

7.  Give all the chance to do what they excel at

By giving employees the chance to do what they enjoy and what they are good at can have a massive impact on employee motivation. Ensure that the work is explicitly linked to business objectives in order that it can be measured and managed.

8.  Make work fun!

 Inject a little colour, humour and life into your working environment and watch how employees positively respond to it!

9.  Think small

Even small changes within a working environment can have a positive or negative effect.  It really doesn’t have to be about big philosophies and cultural changes. Start with a small idea – bring in cakes, order pizzas, take a half day to play rounders in the park etc. and see what the impact is.

10.  Align personal and business success

Ensure that your team are clear on what success looks like from a business perspective. Then find out from them what they would consider success to look like from a personal perspective. If you can align these two aspects as closely as possible, you’re half way to success.

11.  Ensure the company culture incorporates hard work, success and recognition

The culture within an organisation will differ from company to company, but try and align yours to incorporate these three values and by accomplishing each one you’ll help raise motivation levels.

12.  Listen to your team

Everyone at your organisation will have ideas – on their role within the business, the business itself, what they would like to do in the future, your skills as a leader…. the list goes on. Ask for their input and take these ideas forward, they are valuable nuggets of gold not to be discarded.

13.  Employees need friends amongst colleagues

It’s a sure-fire fact that an employee is more likely to leave should they not have anyone that they can call a “friend” within the organisation. Whether it’s you or someone else, find out how the personal aspects affect your employee’s motivations and ensure that they have someone to talk to.

14.  Business reputation

Having a good industry reputation will positively impact on employees. Regardless of it being  because of your excellent customer service, ethical trading or volunteer programmes, it’s much easier to read about your employer in the press when the coverage is positive.

15.  Empower

One of the key factors in employee motivation is ensuring that each employee has the requisite tools to do the job, then allowing them to do that job. If they are clear on what is to be done; have the competence to do it; and the control to do it in the most effective manner, this will help to keep them satisfied and motivated.

16.  Paint a picture

Find out what the long term aspirations of each of your employees are and then find a way to help them reach their goals. Ultimately, it may involve not working for you anymore, but in the time that they are with you they will be eternally grateful for helping them reach their long term goals.

17.  Provide an induction

You’re engaging with your employees from the moment that they decide to apply for a job with you. Make sure that those engagement levels do not slip the second that they walk through your front door. Providing a comprehensive induction is a good way of ensuring this.

18.  Say “thank you”

Odds are, you’re not saying it enough or at the right time. Give praise immediately after the action has occurred, to reinforce the message; ensure that it is specific; and that it is meaningful.

19.  Clearly communicate the organisation’s vision and values

This will help employees to buy into the company ethos, further tying them into the company.

20.  Consider their health and wellbeing

Health and wellbeing has become increasingly important as we understand how best to engage and motivate employees. Whatever you have in place for employees consider whether it’s relevant and beneficial.

21.  Put an end to gossip and talk positively

As it says. This will help to reinforce the positive culture within the organisation.

22.  Help them develop

In our survey 46% of employees wanted to work for an organisation where they were given room to grow and develop new skills. Remember that training now does not need to be formal, so utilise those within the organisation who have a particular skillset to mentor or train other employees.

23.  Get feedback on your own performance

This may bring to light issues that you would have otherwise been unaware of. Remember also, that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers. Anything you can do to improve your own performance will help your team.

24.  Use reward and recognition

This is a frequently broached subject area, and has been much discussed. In implementing an R&R strategy however, make sure it is relevant to you and your team, and not one straight off the shelf.  Also ensure that any company benefits are easily accessible for all.

25.  Understand that employees are your greatest asset

And everything else will follow.

26.  Live consistency

In everything you do, and ensure that employees know that you will be fair to all.

27.  Establish rituals that are valuable to the company, and do away with those that are not

Do employees see the value in your Monday morning catch-up? If they don’t, why are you having it? Ask them what their thoughts are.

28.  Get on social media!

Why not engage with your people through social media. Interact with them through Twitter and Facebook and get some great photos up on Pinterest.