5 Smart Employee Retention Tips

By Robert Half February 13, 2018 at 4:36pm

Businesses and job seekers are assessing today’s hot employment market and considering their next steps. If you’re a manager, holding on to your best people should be a key concern.

Will some of your top performers decide to dip their toe in the job market this year? It’s hard for you to know, of course, but now’s the time to build a defense against turnover. It’s your job to re-convince your team members their current role is the right one for them. How do you do that? Here are five ideas for providing a work experience that makes your greatest people want to stay with you:

1. Start with your salaries

No, money isn’t everything to workers today, but salary is still one of the most convincing factors when it comes to retaining your best people. It’s crucial that the compensation you offer remains at least in line with that of other firms in your industry and region. But even that may not be enough. Do everything you can to push your salaries just a little higher than what your competitors are offering.

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2. Recognize employees’s personal lives

It’s getting more and more critical to help your teams reconcile expectations at work with personal duties. By giving staff the flexibility to handle priorities at home, you can reduce the chance they’ll jump ship if one of your competitors offers them a little more money.

Flextime, a compressed workweek and job sharing have long been tools to accommodate employees’ work-life balance needs. Thanks to technology, working remotely has become the go-to solution for many workers and companies.

But the success of any of these programs depends on how they’re managed. The lack of face-to-face contact and daily interaction with key staff — the downsides of remote working — require good communication between managers and participating employees. Encourage remote staff to attend office events in person whenever possible, especially get-togethers to celebrate team projects.

3. Help them work happy

It’s often said that managers have two jobs: their own and that of their team. A key part of any serious retention effort is carving out time to ensure your employees still feel they are in the right workplace environment — the one they were so excited to join when they were hired.

Periodically step back to think about your team’s workplace happiness. Have discussions to find out if staff think they are still being challenged in their role, what they enjoy most about the job and whether they still get that rewarding glow when they’re shown how much their contributions are appreciated.

If you sense a degree of discontentment, give some serious thought to making job adjustments or moving people to new areas where they can thrive again.

4. Promote growth through professional development

When you encourage and facilitate your employees’ professional development, the message you send is that you care about it as much as they do. That’s a compelling reason for them to stay with your company.

Millennials, in particular, have a keen interest in personal and professional growth. They want stretch assignments as well as clear paths for career progression. Make sure your professional development efforts go beyond mere training, which is designed to help staff perform the tasks that are part of their jobs. Focus on development that truly helps employees build interpersonal and leadership skills that ready them for more advanced roles.

5. Offer a mentoring program

Investing in employees through mentoring isn’t just a nice idea — it’s a smart and cost-effective retention technique. Mentoring fosters loyalty and increases an employee’s potential. Mentees gain skills that enable them to contribute at a higher level while mentors build leadership skills. And don’t forget: Mentors are also employees you want to retain. The sense of gratification they get from helping others could prevent them from shifting their gaze to other organizations.

Make no mistake: A company lives and dies on the quality and commitment of its people. If you make sure your employees remain happy and engaged, you may just earn their loyalty.

Paul McDonald photograph
Paul McDonald

Paul McDonald is senior executive director at Robert Half. He writes and speaks frequently on hiring, workplace and career management topics. Over the course of more than 30 years in the recruiting field, McDonald has advised thousands of company leaders and job seekers on how to hire and get hired.

McDonald joined Robert Half in 1984 as a recruiter for financial and accounting professionals in Boston, following a public accounting career with Price Waterhouse. In the 1990s, he became president of the Western United States overseeing all of the company’s operations in the region. McDonald become senior executive director of Robert Half Management Resources in 2000, and assumed his current role in 2012. He earned a bachelor's degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from St. Bonaventure University in New York.

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