So why do so many get it so wrong so often?
Billy Joel once wrote
“I've gotta get it right the first time
That's the main thing
I can't afford to let it pass
You get it right the next time, that's not the same thing
Gonna have to make the first time last.”
You need to get it right the first time, every time.
1 – Hire the right people in the first place, simple right?
Are you hiring the right people in the first place? If not, this might be at the very heart of your staff turnover.
If you’re failing to hire the right people, the chances are they will not stay.
Hire someone into the wrong role and they will quickly get fed up and move on.
More often than not it’s you, not them!!
Proclaiming you have an office dog that can be manhandled for selfies or the artificial turf you have installed is of the highest quality, not forgetting table tennis and bean bags is not going to appeal to everyone, you could be putting off brilliant people with this kind of “look how cool we are” mentality.
Look at your hiring strategy, are your adverts attracting the right people, are you being honest about the role, the rewards, the pressure, the goals, and the opportunities?
Is your onboarding strategy up to scratch?
Glassdoor found that 35% of those doing the hiring of new employees do so with the expectation that over one-third of hires will be walking out the door in the coming year, that sort of turnover hurts, it’s expensive and it kills your reputation.
If you hire someone who’s a bad fit for your business, don’t be surprised if they quickly move on.
2 – Put your money where your mouth is: pay as well as you can afford to but…
…you don’t have to break the bank in order to retain staff. Most people are happy to work for a “decent wage”. That means paying at the least the market rate, but stretching further if budgets allow.
Of course, keep an eye on your overheads, but make sure you pay people as much as you can afford to, based on performance, experience and time with the company. It won’t go unnoticed and will reduce the need for any awkward pay discussions down the line if people trust they are being paid fairly and you are being open they tend to stay loyal versus those who harbour resentment around being underpaid, overworked and undervalued. Guess which company retains staff for longer?
Another Glassdoor survey reveals that for 45% of employees who quit, the top reason is salary. This was followed by career advancement opportunities, better benefits, and location.
So it’s always about the money surely?
Not so, according to a collection of recent surveys on employee retention, only 24% of “Gen X” employees say that financial stability motivates them to stay in a job but 56% of employees say that health care and insurance concerns keep them in their job. Benefits matter. Money matters. What you offer your staff in these areas must be comparable to other businesses in your sector or area.
So the answer is more money and more benefits then?
Easy tiger, not so simple
There are other methods and considerations to retain employees than costly salaries and expensive benefits.
3 – Connect with them; be relentless on employee engagement
How connected are your existing employees to the business? Are they made to feel like a vital cog in a well-run machine, have they been reduced to an employee number or has the relevancy of their role been diluted so much they feel unable to make a difference?
Focus on employee engagement, make sure everyone understands how their role impacts the business and what they contribute to the wider goals of the company.
Celebrate small wins, encourage improvement and allow people to embrace failure.
Keep staff informed about what’s happening with the company – don’t let rumours take over and become “fact”. If there are problems or set-backs, communicate this. Rumours lead to people making decisions that are not based on fact, they become nervous, they end up leaving. Better informed employees make the right decisions.
Never has employee contact been so important than during the pandemic with so many staff working from home, some companies have got it horribly wrong, leaving staff with little to no support, affecting confidence and mental health – the saying “out of sight, out of mind” has never been truer.
The UK recruitment agency Reed offers cash incentives via their “Reed Think” initiative, co-members (employees) submit ideas, these are read and responded to quickly, sometimes an award is made even when the idea can’t be used. They also publish the results making for some nice competitiveness; some of their best ideas have come from this initiative, including a truly groundbreaking one many years ago that changed the face of the business to what we see today. This produces a sense of belonging, a feeling of pride if they see an idea being put into action, Reed has many staff who have been in the business 30 and 40 years and regularly celebrate such longevity with chairman’s lunches and awards.
Be available to your employees. Bosses often give lip service to an “open-door policy”, but it’s not enough to simply invite criticism and feedback. It’s not unusual for people to feel they can’t really express themselves or speak out for fear of embarrassment, ridicule or reprisal, even with “open door” policies in place.
This is about actively creating an open rapport with employees. You don’t have to become best friends but taking the time to be friendly and engaged with your employees will pay off.
4 – Rewards that count: offer tangible benefits
A business that offers its employees benefits isn’t necessarily one that pays sky-high wages. It’s far more likely the one that understands the benefits of providing free, fresh fruit in the kitchen, the option to work flexible hours, to be understanding when childcare becomes a problem, to appreciate when someone's mental health is being affected.
You might not have loads of dosh for staff rewards, so focus on the small stuff – the little things that go a long way when someone turns up to work every day.
Saying you have a tea prep area and then charging for coffee/milk/sugar is not the way to go.
One business that owns some of the UK’s biggest selling newspapers charged staff to receive a copy of a newspaper – and they failed to recognise the resentment this caused.
Discounted gym membership, free refillable water bottles, flexi-time, cut a deal with your local sandwich shop to offer discounts for your staff. How about dry-cleaning pick-up and delivery?
Some companies allow Amazon and eBay deliveries with an onsite delivery rota run by staff.
Most cost nothing, but put smiles on the face of your staff and they bring contentment and loyalty.
5 – How’s it going? Have regular reviews
Don’t wait for annual personal review meetings to see how things are going with members of staff. In fact, most people are turned off by this and see it as nothing more than a tick box exercise which produces no results. How many times have you dusted down last years “review” to realise all the promises made have come to nothing?
Employee satisfaction is ever-evolving, and if you neglect to deal with issues as and when they arise, the negative impact will be far more damaging.
Have regular review meetings. These could be every week, some less formal (but documented) are fine–they should certainly be far more frequent than an annual “appraisal”.
Create an open culture that values feedback, and there’ll be no hiding place for underlying tensions or frustrations.
6 – Provide training opportunities
People feel valued if they can see the business invests in them by the provision of learning opportunities.
Today, such opportunities appear in many forms, and training has evolved considerably - in a good way
Businesses can now provide training remotely via on-line learning at the employee’s pace, or in bite-sized chunks that can be accessed at leisure.
You can’t overtrain someone, nor can you underestimate the value in providing regular, on-going training for employees. After all, why would someone leave a company that clearly has their best interests and personal development at heart?
7 – Spread the strain. Reduce employee pain
You can’t expect employees to function like robots. When work and life balance is out of kilter, there’s pain. If your employee feels like they spend most of their life working instead of living, the job becomes the bad guy, the thing to resent, this resentment leads people to seek new opportunities.
But don’t let the pain build elsewhere.
Good workers are easily taken for granted. Be on guard for employees who may not be complaining, but are quietly feeling exhausted or frustrated about the amount of work expected from them. (remember the regular review point mentioned earlier).
Some employees, because of their personality or nature, won’t even realise they are overworking themselves. Perhaps you don’t expect it, but they have a work ethic that demands a constant nose to the grindstone approach. For these people, recognition, thanks and a little reward work wonders; give them an early finish some days, buy their lunch, tell them to start later.
Perhaps organisational changes have created pain unintentionally. Maybe you’ve created a pain point by solving one problem but made a new one. Whatever the case, communicate with your staff and keep an eye out for areas that have inspired grumbling.
8 – Have Leaders, not Bosses
Few people want to be leaders, but everyone wants to be the boss. Remember, though, that people follow leaders, while they abandon bosses. A boss is ten a penny while true leaders are rare.
9 – Be a brand they can be proud of
This is an age of activism, with generations who want to be part of the solution instead of a problem. Be a business known for the positives, consider your involvement and support of:
- Community organisations
- The environment
- Family-like work environment
Find a way your business can fit such a reputation. For example, maybe you are a garage or manufacturer that donates to environmental activities or are known for eco-friendly policies regarding waste. Maybe you are a food retailer who regularly donates to food banks. Many companies now allow paid time off for employees to undertake charity days, often as a team effort, these can have a massive positive impact on local communities and nurture a real feeling of belonging in a company.
Employees who are passionate and care about the impact their lives have on the world will prefer working for a business with a strong positive brand and a “moral compass” and see it as a serious benefit.
While every business has to evaluate where their salaries and benefits sit in comparison to industry standards, those monetary concerns aren’t the only way to retain your employees.
Remember employees aren’t automatons, slogging away for just a salary. They care about where they work, how they work, and who they work with. When competing in a tight job market, it’s important to keep that in mind rather than just get into a bidding war on money that could be harmful to your bottom line and competitiveness.
Remember, getting the right people in the first place and not making it just about money will ensure you are edging in front in the war for talent.
What are the best benefits you have encountered in the workplace, the things that make people want to stay and be proud of the place they work?