Employee Retention: 9 Low-Cost Ways to Keep Your Team Happy

By Robert Half March 15, 2017 at 6:00pm

What do you think it’d cost to replace a worker if he or she walked out the door today? Some estimates run as high as 150 percent of the annual salary, but there are many hidden costs, too. Keeping your employees happy begins with implementing an effective employee retention strategy.

Our workplace research shows that higher levels of employee engagement lead to greater productivity. And workers who feel valued are motivated to make real, tangible contributions to the company. Yes, providing competitive compensation is one way to keep your employees happy. But it’s not the only strategy. Here are nine low-cost ways to keep employee retention high.

1. Maintain an open-door policy

Happy workplaces are environments where employees feel comfortable voicing their ideas and concerns. Set the right tone by letting your employees know that you welcome their thoughts for improving business operations and workplace culture. Also, provide and ask for regular feedback. Don’t limit yourself to one format: You could offer an idea board, suggestion box or monthly brown bag Q&A with company leadership.

2. Promote from within

Your employees will feel discouraged if they sense they’ll be sitting in their current cubicle forever. If you want employees to invest in the business, then invest in them, too. Many managers fail to consider that the talent they seek could very well be right under their nose. Wise leaders consider “internal employees” — professionals who are among your current workforce — first when a position is created or vacated.

3. Encourage passion about your brand

You don’t have to give employee retention a second thought if your employees are passionate and knowledgeable about the product. Encourage them to learn as much as possible about the brand and company values so they can share their enthusiasm with customers. Offer complimentary services or samples to employees so they understand the value of your product and can make informed decisions and recommendations.

4. Emphasize health and wellness

The link between wellness programs and higher employee retention rates is well established. Managers have come to accept that promoting the physical and mental well-being of their employees is beneficial to their bottom line. Some firms offer fun workspaces with foosball tables, others yoga classes, complimentary chair massage or vending machines with healthier snack choices. Whether it’s a mandatory 20-minute break in the day from computers and smartphones or even extra vacation days as a reward for performance, these types of healthful workplace options go a long way toward preventing employee burnout.

5. Recognize outstanding work

Want to boost employee morale? Place an article in the company newsletter or a note on a bulletin board in the office in recognition of a special achievement. Praise employees for their good work in front of their peers. You don’t have to spend a dime to reward hardworking employees for their actions and achievements. Your gesture lets employees know their unique contributions and positive attitudes make a difference for your company and the team.

6. Create a pep squad

It’s understandable that amid day-to-day deadlines, making sure employees are engaged rarely finds its way onto your to-do list. Here’s a solution: Delegate! Appoint a team of employees to head up fun activities. Watch the ideas grow when you get a group of creative employees together, thinking about how to take the stress out of work and be more supportive of each other.

7. Offer professional development opportunities

Training programs are an employee retention strategy that pays off big time. Your employees benefit by expanding their skills. You benefit by getting a more productive and versatile workforce. Everyone wins when you grow together.

8. Have a mission

Do you have any millennials on staff? Workers of this generation want to be part of a cause that matters. Even if your company’s focus isn’t building homes for disadvantaged families, you can weave charity into your business plan. Regardless of age, you and your employees will benefit from having a philanthropic focus by improving your company’s reputation in the community. You might even meet a new potential client.

9. Recognize that perks don’t equal culture

Employees enjoy perks: free lunches, free health insurance and flexible hours. But don’t sell yourself short by equating perks with workplace culture, which is the personality of your business. What you say about work-life balance and professional development tells current employees and job seekers about how the organization values its employees. Assure both groups that your organization appreciates — and rewards — employee dedication and hard work.

Companies with cultures that truly value their employees are most successful at retaining them.

Don’t be the manager who is caught off guard when a top performer gives his or her two weeks’ notice. Instead, create an environment where employees feel valued, included in company development and have a solid grasp of their performance and career development.

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