Japan is experiencing a serious skills shortage, with more than two jobs advertised for every one applicant in Tokyo.

With skilled workers presented with many role opportunities, companies require strong retention strategies to ensure they don’t lose their best talent to the competition.

Whilst traditionally, Japan has been synonymous with long-term employment, the current skills shortage is leading companies to think differently about their retention strategies, with loss of productivity, poor office morale and rising recruitment costs being just some of the pitfalls of high employee turnover.

By setting a proactive retention strategy, Japanese companies have the opportunity to turn the tide and keep skilled staff on side. Here are five ways to prevent employee turnover:

1. Have constant communication

It’s all too easy, in the modern business world, to rely on emails and an occasional meeting to communicate. Emailing may get the job done, but managers need to be constantly communicating directly and in-person with their staff to gain a true understanding of the employee’s aptitude and motivation for their role. Consistent communication also gives an opportunity for regular two-way feedback, which helps keep the employee engaged.

Justin Choulochas, Finance Director at Goodyear Japan Ltd., says having a direct and personal relationship with your employees can go a long way to preventing employee turnover.

“The most important thing is to have constant communication with your team,” says Choulochas. “Setting aside time for one-on-ones and regular individual communication outside of those set meeting times will help you understand what employees needs or concerns are and what their general working life is like.”

2. Empower your employees

To remain engaged, employees need to feel they have purpose, are working towards a goal and are adding value to the company.

Nicholas Walters, Statutory Executive Officer and Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer at MetLife Insurance K.K., says:

“Managers need to show their staff that they are valued. Staff need to be given ownership, empowerment, and the ability to make their own decisions. Managers need to help them understand how the role they are performing contributes to the company.”

3. Reward your employees – and remember, it’s not always about salary

In such a competitive market, your company needs to stay ahead of the curve. While salary remains an important part of any retention strategy, incentivising employees with non-financial benefits goes a long way to preventing employee turnover.

Flexible working is increasingly a strong employee incentive. A working parent who, for example, wishes to leave early to spend time with their children, or a professional who needs to occasionally work from home to care for a sick relative, is much more likely to remain loyal to a company who allows flexibility.

Other non-financial benefits include:

  • Training or new project opportunities
  • Overseas travel or postings to international roles
  • Funding for leisure and lifestyle benefits – for example, a gym membership

4. Invest in professional development

Career-savvy professionals know that continuous self-improvement is the key to a successful career. Companies need to provide employees with the opportunity to learn new skills, either through education or on-the-job training.

Choulochas agrees. “Companies who don’t invest in their employees will see voluntary employee turnover increase as skills shortages becomes more acute.”

5. Think differently about temporary workers

It may sound contradictory, but shifting your headcount to include more temporary workers could prevent voluntary employee turnover. Temporary staff bring fresh perspective and enthusiasm, and allow the business to scale up during peak times, and remain lean during quieter periods. This increases productivity and boosts employee morale, while adding real value.

Says Walters: “Temp staff are a really important part of our workforce. There are a number of ways that they provide value, for example with offering specific skillsets for projects and critical services delivery.”

Japan’s road to solving the skills shortage crisis is not a short one, and requires a multi-faceted approach. However, in taking a more flexible approach to retention strategy, you’ll be on the right path to ensuring top talent stay in your business.