Posted by Oliver Meredew on March 17th, 2016.
Unemployment in the UK has been coming in around the 5% mark for a while now, with employment reaching its strongest level since records began in 1971. As a consequence of this, skilled professionals are in comparatively short supply, so any business owner wanting to retain high-performing employees needs to have staff satisfaction in the workplace as a high priority.
While meeting new people is a natural part of human interaction, in the case of new employees in your organisation chances are that these newcomers will be filling the gap of someone that has left, unless you happen to be expanding or opening up a new department.
The cycle of employees can often be ‘entry-establishment-promotion-exit’ but there are certain steps you can take in your business to maximise retaining power and ensure that your brightest stars don’t go shooting off and instead continue to make a valuable contribution for years to come.
Even if your most-prized employees do slip away, your business can still make enough of a lasting impression to draw them back further down the line, complete with a head full of fresh knowledge.
It takes time and money to induct and train a fresh-faced employee to a productive level and having to repeat this process within a short timespan can quickly become a tedious and costly process. Having to train new employees to fill suddenly vacant positions is a particular problem among entry-level roles, with the desire for upward mobility making some staff members difficult to retain.
With that in mind, welcoming the employee into the company effectively is one of the best ways to start implementing retention. If you meet a new staff member personally, give them a tour of the workplace and generally make them feel as included as possible during the induction period, you’re well on the way to making a positive lasting impression.
If the business is particularly large and the personal touch isn’t possible, assigning a capable line manager or senior staff member to take the newcomer ‘under their wing’ is the next best thing. When under the influence of a supportive, motivating superior, employees can be integrated in a steady, comfortable manner and will have nothing to complain about further down the line if they find themselves weighing up the pros and cons of the position. If employees appear keen to advance themselves but there aren’t any higher roles they could occupy, make sure they feel that their contribution is valuable and that the experience they’ll gain from working for your company will have a more significant impact on their future careers than gaining a new title.
And if you do find yourself with a vacant gap to be filled, ensure that you ask yourself two questions about potential applicants – ‘Will I get along with this person?’ and ‘Will they like it here?’ If you can tick both these boxes, then finding the right person for the right position will go all the smoother.
While it’s true that there are people who just want to cruise through life with minimal effort, for the most part, employees do actually want to better their position within a company.
To that end, in the interests of retention you should provide every opportunity available for employee growth, both in current positions and in terms of promotion further up the chain.
For improving current duties, consider gradually drip-feeding new opportunities and objectives to staff, without overwhelming them with more tasks than they can handle.
In this vein, keep the day-to-day running of the business as consistent as possible. It’s something of a universal truth that people like routines, therefore having workers flitting all over the organisation with little direction or forewarning is unlikely to give them a very good impression of the company, and is additionally sure to be stressing them out with every new task that pops up out of the blue.
To counter this, make scheduling flexible and set up monthly, weekly or even daily lists of objectives, as well as the possibility of side projects that can be worked on if everything gets finished ahead of time.
For growth in the long-run, always look internally when first hiring and make sure that everyone is aware of positions opening up or old ones that need to be filled.
How is the company doing right now? Is everything shipshape from top to bottom? If you never ask, odds are that you’ll never know.
Having an open-door policy when it comes to staff feedback and the communication of ideas is essential to making workers feel ‘at ease’ within a business, and additionally provides the opportunity for staff to point out problems that you may have overlooked. A ‘yes man’ policy might do wonders for your ego, but this could result in missing out on a ‘no’ that saves the company further down the line.
Fair treatment of staff is a given, and should always be done as a supporting coach, rather than a tyrannical manager. Again, if the company is too big for one person to manage, consider hiring a human resources manager who can take on the task of monitoring the social wellbeing of the business.
Clear communication is a must even if employees do decide to depart, as this provides the opportunity to conduct an exit interview and find out why the person wants to leave/what you could have changed to keep them around.
This tip is a simple one – recognise achievements. If an employee gets a difficult project done ahead of time, or manages to break a company record when securing business or custom, let them know about it!
Rewarding exceptional staff or teams can take many forms, with a wage increase being just one of the more straightforward ones. For those seeking to improve the staying-power of their business, it helps to offer a range of perks and supportive responses, whatever the occasion.
This can take the conventional form, such as offering ‘bounty’ payments for those that bring successful employees into the recruitment process, or treats that break up the corporate structure, such as ‘dress down’ events or goodies from a local bakery on Fridays, which help to put that extra appeal into the day of the week when employee attention is at its most flagging.
Being specific also helps when handing out rewards, as something personalised will do more to the employer-employee relationship than the blanket strategy of the same box of chocolates for everyone on the payroll ever will.
For truly remarkable performances, think about going that extra mile for the lynchpins of the company. These rewards need to be tangible and fitting; think less the standard bottle of plonk and card, and more along the lines of the treats given out to the winning teams in The Apprentice.
The person in the head office is the figurehead of the organisation, but if they never make the rounds to remind people of this, it can leave staff feeling isolated from the actual message that the company is trying to put across.
Whenever possible, it helps to travel out of the HQ and pay a personal visit to the various branches and divisions of the company. This has a double benefit, as it not only allows the visiting employer to get a feel of how a specific aspect of the company is doing, but also improves the image of the company in the eyes of those on the receiving end.
Conducted properly, regular check-ups with employees increase the sense of appreciation, and can be easily factored into candid performance reviews, which can serve as windows into departments or projects that would otherwise have not been opened.
As an extension to the personal touch, consider producing regular reports on how the company is doing and what is desired from future movement – this can be disseminated throughout the company and will help to create the sense of a wider unity, or team spirit, that is essential to making workers feel right at home.
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