Best Practices for Employee Retention

A three-point strategy that will encourage employees to stay with your company

By David Cox, SPHR, SHRM-SCP | January 19, 2017

There are some companies that people love working for and would never leave, even if they could do the same work elsewhere and make more money. There are other companies that have such a terrible reputation that even if they were paid more money employees would only go to work for them if there were no other alternative. Usually the difference between a great company that seems to be able to retain all their best employees and one with a double-digit turnover rate is the way that they treat the people who work for them.

Great Leadership – A company that’s serious about keeping its employees happy and productive realizes that effective leadership is essential at every level of the company. It is not enough for an employer to merely be a “nice person”. Good managers also need to be effective leaders. They need to support their people by offering the direction they need to get their jobs done the right way without micromanaging their employees.

Good leaders allow their employees at all levels to voice their opinions (within reason) without fear that it could place their job in jeopardy. Moreover, good leaders take the time to discover the unique talents and skills that their employees bring to the table and encourages further development.

Opportunity for Growth – Some of the most successful companies in the world have been built on a practice of promoting from within. An example of one such company is McDonald’s, a company that stands today as the biggest fast food chain in the world. I recently read that all the current high level executives began their careers with the company as lowly crew members, flipping burgers and mopping floors. The idea that their position can one day lead to something bigger is if they work hard and progressed through the ranks is incentive enough to get people to continue with the company.

Too many companies make the mistake of seeking talent outside the company when they have a key role to fill instead of looking within. This inevitably leads to talented employees leaving because they went unnoticed and their skills and hard work went unappreciated.

Saying Thank You – Some rather cynical people say that if you cannot reward your best employees financially on a regular basis they will leave, no matter how good the company is to them otherwise.  There is no conclusive evidence to support this assumption. Economic circumstances have forced employers to consider other ways that companies can show appreciation for their employees.

Some successful companies offer employee rewards such as a public “well done” for excellent work, an Employee of the Month Award, or even more tangible items like a prime parking space, a paid afternoon off work, or a gift certificate for a free lunch or dinner. These and others have been successfully in motivating employees to give their best effort at work.

Other successful companies, in an effort to retain their most talented employees, offer a more flexible work day or the opportunity to work from home a few days a week.  Increasingly, as people look for ways to de-stress their busy lives this is something that often works very well.

These are just a few of the ways that successful companies manage to retain talent and keep their employees happy. The biggest key though is understanding that employees are people and want to be treated with respect and feel that their work is appreciated.

David Cox


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