Employee Retention

You may have heard that it costs 6 months of an employee’s salary every time you have to replace them. While this financial metric is sure to make financial executives sweat, it’s important to consider the impact of employee turnover on all facets of the business. For example, the average recruitment period is 68 days. This means that not only does your human resources department have to allocate resources to the hiring process, but the rest of your team needs to take on the additional workload of the departed employee throughout the recruitment period. Further, your team will need to dedicate time to train the new employee. All of this additional workload can impact morale and team performance. If your business offers team or department target-based bonuses, exiting employees will impact those as well. This is why it’s so important to keep your team satisfied with their job, the business, and the corporate culture. Here are some tactics to help keep your team happy and committed.

1. Have a Consistent Recruitment Message

Make sure that each job candidate and new employee has a solid first impression of the business. Be consistent in how you explain the job and business to candidates. This should be done in all areas of recruitment, including the job description, interview, offer letter, and their first few weeks in their role. This will make them comfortable and help to build trust in the business from Day 1.

2. Build a Structured Onboarding Process

New employees often face a high level of stress in their first few weeks on the job. They are unsure of the corporate culture, want to prove themselves in their role, and need to know that they’re on the right track. To ease this process, ensure that your new employees understand what is expected of them, short and long-term, and provide your existing employees with the flexibility and resources to properly onboard. By providing a structured onboarding process, new employees can focus on orienting themselves with the role and business instead of feeling uncertain of what they should be doing and what’s expected of them. A structured onboarding process will also help your existing employees while training a new employee, as they’ll be able to leverage a training plan and related resources.

3. Encourage Team Collaboration

Business departments allow team members to specialize and develop certain skills, but they can also create artificial barriers amongst team members. To avoid this, encourage collaboration between departments. Marketing and sales should meet to discuss improvements to lead generation, marketing collateral, and brand messaging. Sales should meet with operations/production to ensure that orders and clients are being closed effectively. Managers should develop targets that involve multiple departments to boost cross-department teamwork. Your team should also all meet regularly to share strategic activities, knowledge, and accomplishments.

4. Create Team Targets

Implementing incentives based on team performance will instil a sense of comradery amongst your workforce. This will avoid the “lone wolf” attitude and instead create a supportive work environment that encourages team members to help one another in order to achieve their goals. Team targets should be directly related to the primary goals of the business to encourage its prosperity and to prove your team’s direct effect on the business’ success.

5. Celebrate the Victories (Big and Small)

Whether your business surpassed its annual revenue target or production was able to fulfil a rush order, it’s important to recognize the wins in your business and celebrate them. This doesn’t always have to be with money or food either; mentioning them in team meetings is a great way to give recognition to deserving team members. Your team will inspire one another; ambition and dedication is contagious.

6. Encourage Employee Feedback

A business owner can gain some excellent feedback from their employees just by asking. Depending on the size of the business, this could be done via one-on-one meetings, surveys, or a feedback form system. You should be collecting regular feedback from your team to ensure that they are happy, engaged, and secure.

7. Invest in Professional Development

TrainingA full-time employee is committed to their role for 40+ hours per week. If they could perform their job better, faster, and smarter, it would help to reduce stress and instil a sense of accomplishment. Managers should invest in training and professional development across their team. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a rigid, standardized training plan; some businesses opt to build customized or periodic training activities. Either way, your business should be investing in its team’s development. In fact, there are Canadian business grants for training available, such as the Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG), which covers up to 66% of third-party training costs to help develop your employees’ abilities.

8. Ensure Work-Life Balance

Employees that feel that their work is taking over their life will want to leave. Even a dream job can seem stressful if it doesn’t allow leisure time. Make sure you set reasonable work expectations for your team so they have time for themselves and never make your employees feel guilty for taking required sick days or their awarded vacation; they need it.

9. Diffuse Gossip and other Toxic Talk

One toxic employee can have a widespread negative effect on a business. Your team should be a cohesive unit; if one team member is undermining others or disrespecting them, it’s your job as a leader to approach the situation directly. Do not confront a team member in public; instead figure out what is going on in a private one-on-one chat and diffuse the situation immediately before it grows.

10. Provide Autonomy where Possible

After an employee is oriented with their role, make sure that they have some freedom to fulfil their duties. This is where team targets (#6) can help. Although your business should have standard operating practices and systems, teams working towards a common goal should have some flexibility in how they achieve those goals, as long as they’re performing.

Bonus Strategy: Have Fun!

Employee RetentionEach employee dedicates at least 33% of their workweek to your business; they should be enjoying it! It’s important to build and maintain a friendly, funny, and rewarding corporate culture. Host fun, inclusive activities such as a pizza lunch, or a bowling night to make sure your team has the opportunity to disconnect from work and socialize with their fellow team members.

These strategies will all contribute to an inviting, engaging, and rewarding working environment that improve employee retention. However, even the strongest businesses go through some sort of employee turnover. When this happens, ensure you conduct an exit interview to help discover any areas for improvement. Continuous improvement should be ingrained into all areas of your business; not just production. After all, your employees are your greatest asset.

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Chris holds an Honours B.Comm at the University of Guelph, Majoring in Marketing Management. As Director of Client Management & Development at Mentor Works, Chris specializes in strategic planning through customized funding strategies. Add to your Google+ Circles and follow @ChrisCasemore on Twitter.

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