“How Do We Retain Employees?”

July 9th, 2013 by Leah Elms

Top Talent

Employee turnover is a common challenge for most employers. You want to keep those top sellers, top culture creators, top producers and top team players. We are often asked the best ways to retain employees.

Survey Says …

The sheer amount of research and resources dedicated to employee satisfaction illustrates the importance of the issue, and the findings might surprise you. For one, more money is usually far down on the list of ways to keep your best talent. Job satisfaction is typically the real issue.

When we perform employee engagement trainings, we focus on what employees are doing and for whom they are working. It is critical to evaluate the culture of the company, the goals of the company and how each employee views his or her purpose and role in the company.  Individually, we learn about what employees draw from their managers or senior advisors, as feedback from these people is critical. Satisfaction isn’t just the work you do. A strong HR strategy is one that helps train managers to help increase team aspects.

Studies have found work/life balance is another critical factor in job satisfaction. How this balance translates into expectations varies from person to person and generation to generation. Managing millennials is a hot topic for just this reason. People come into a job wanting to find a satisfying experience at work, but they don’t want it to detract from their lives outside of work, whether their priority is family, friends or going to every Indianapolis Colts game on the schedule.

Employees want to feel like their jobs support their lifestyles. That desire can be translated into vacation days, a pay increase, more attention to personal and emotional energy, or making sure an employee’s stress level doesn’t burn them out. People want balance. They want to be allowed to be the person they want to be. All of these factors affect their sense of satisfaction at work.

Top 5 Things Employees Seek

Forbes reports on CEB’s findings from its quarterly study of 50,000 employees over the second half of 2012, coming up with the top five thing people are looking for when they are seeking a new job. You can use these items as starting points for figuring out how to work on these areas of your company. Ask yourself the associated questions. And the top 5 are:

  • Stability: Do your employees buy into your company’s long-term goals? Do these goals provide potential for employees to grow?
  • Compensation: Do your employees feel well compensated?
  • Respect: Do your employees feel respected by their peers, managers and leadership?
  • Health Benefits: Are you communicating the value of the health benefits you’re offering? Are the benefits competitive in your market?
  • Work-Life Balance: What kinds of quality-of-life issues are a priority for your employees and are your helping support those priorities?

Demographics Matter

It is also critical to know who your employees are. Demographic information is a useful indicator. When we carry out exit interviews for employers, we often hear from employees that compensation is important. What we have also learned is that younger people don’t care as much about money and health care benefits, but when those same young people start building families, money and health care benefits become more important to them. Once the family is established, retirement packages become more of a priority.

You need to know their demographics so that you respond accordingly. Get creative in what your compensation package looks like based on the demographic you’re employing.

Personal growth and development are also really important. Offering classes, training, seminars, coaching and mentoring all show your developing employees that you want them to excel and succeed in your company. They see that you are invested in them as a person.

What About My Industry?

Different industries have different challenges, but the struggle to retain employees is across the board. The differences typically lie in what people want more of, but the common ground is that people want “more” of something. Your actions and thoughts behind a gesture as an employer must fit your audience. (On a small scale, some employees will wholeheartedly appreciate a tray of homemade cookies while others will expect gourmet cupcakes.)

Start Evaluating Satisfaction

I know it sounds too simple, but giving your employees a platform to have a voice is a win for you and them. We have found that SurveyMonkey is a great tool to help businesses really figure out where they should focus and what they should do. Using simple surveys — some only five questions long — we can learn what employees would recommend to make your company a better place to work.

We can then drill down to figure out exactly what that looks like and start working on an employee satisfaction strategy. The key is to not let that survey just sit around. Let your employees be heard and don’t forget to listen and act on what you hear.

Be sure you are consistent and realistic, too. Once you carry out the survey, communicate the findings with your employees and let them know where you’ve going from here. Say to them, “This is what we heard you say and these are the three things we can do over the next two months. This is what we’re going to do over the next year.” Be sure to evaluate how things progress and get more feedback. Have someone in place to support these types of initiatives.

Annual or more frequent reviews are a great time to get qualitative feedback on employee satisfaction. Open the door to the conversation to find out what your top employees are really seeking. Make reviews meaningful times for each employee. Affirm their place in the company, compliment their work and discuss their goals. Do what you can to make employee retention a more manageable challenge.

To find out how Servant HR can help your company retain employees, please contact us.

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