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7 Key Strategies to Improve Employee Retention

A happy employee enjoying the benefits of employee retention

Could your business benefit from these simple, clear-cut methods from our HR consultants for decreasing employee turnover?

Employee retention and staff turnover were pressing HR concerns during 2016. As we move into the New Year, it seems these issues will continue to attract a substantial amount of attention — and with very good reason.

High turnover has been known to have far-reaching, negative effects on a business. It impacts workplace morale, productivity and employee performance. On top of this, turnover comes at a high cost; something that smaller, up-and-coming businesses literally cannot afford.

Rather than constantly recruiting new candidates and training them to optimal productivity, only to lose them as a result of poor engagement, we should all be taking steps to ensure our workforce is happy, content and motivated.

Employee Retention Advice From HR Consultants

Here, our expert HR consultants and Business Psychologists at Davis Associates offer some essential tips to keep hold of your best and brightest employees.

1. Hire the right employees using executive assessment

Employee engagement and retention begins with recruitment. Selecting the wrong candidate can have serious consequences. During the recruitment stage, hiring managers need to keep an eye out for a number of qualities and characteristics that indicate whether or not a candidate is well-suited to your organisation. HR executives should focus primarily on behavioural competencies, job skills and abilities in order to ensure long employment tenure, rather than rushing the decision and relying on gut feeling,

Psychometric testing can be utilised to screen candidates. The results of these tests will show how the employee is motivated, what their skills are, where their weaknesses lie and whether or not their character is a good match for your company culture. This has been shown to be a great predictor of employee success, thereby minimising turnover. For an even more in-depth analysis, executive assessment can also be used by companies who are on the lookout for promising candidates with leadership potential, who are likely to provide value to the company for years to come.

2. Have regular performance meetings with your employees

It has been shown that annual performance appraisals are no longer that productive or effective. For this reason, over the past few years, SMEs and global conglomerates alike have been making the shift towards continuous performance management. This system necessitates regular employee performance check-ins, preferably on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

Adobe was one of the pioneers of this approach in 2012. Opting for regular performance discussions led to a voluntary turnover reduction of 30%. Cargill incorporated a similar approach and the feedback from employees was that they felt more valued, due to regular communication and feedback from their manager. Other companies that have implemented this approach include Deloitte, Microsoft, IBM, Accenture and General Electric.

These sessions can be used to track employee performance, get feedback on any pertinent issues and ensure everyone is clear and up-to-date regarding their goals and objectives. During this time, managers should also give employees context with regards to their roles. People like to know how their efforts feed into larger corporate objectives. This helps to develop an atmosphere of teamwork and a wider ‘one-company’’ vision, boosting engagement in the process.

3. Don’t forget the importance of recognition

It has become clear that nobody works for money alone. If companies expect employees to remain motivated simply because they are earning a salary, they can expect retention to drop swiftly. People appreciate a degree of recognition for their efforts and hard work, and this has shown to be a reliable strategy for improving employee engagement and retention.

One large-scale study demonstrates 70% of employees who receive appreciation for their work are happy with their jobs. Conversely, of those who never receive recognition, only 39% claim to be satisfied at work. The same study showed that frequency was also a significant factor; 80% of employees who received recognition in the past month were content, when compared to only 42% who hadn’t received praise for two years or more.

Companies should consider implementing a staff appreciation programme. Even something as small as a verbal “thanks” for hard work can do wonders — and this can be incorporated into the weekly meetings mentioned above. Companies that don’t prioritise recognition and reward may ultimately lose high performers to organisations that have no problem showing appreciation.

4. Create the right company culture

Workplace culture is an increasingly important issue in terms of retention. It has been said that culture “…can make the difference between feeling amped about your job or dreading every hour”. Forward-thinking business leaders and HR executives are aware of how critical company culture is to overall company success. This is set to become even more of an issue as we move into 2017. Taking the time to nurture a trusting and encouraging environment will help to boost engagement, thus reducing turnover in the long run.

A poor company culture will not only impact retention, but it will also seriously affect recruitment. Once a company develops a poor reputation in the external marketplace it can be hard to recover from — and employees are more than happy to share their company experiences on social media sites such as LinkedIn or GlassDoor. For companies struggling in this area, there are a number of methods for building great company culture that can be considered.

5. Introduce flexible working where appropriate

Technology has massively advanced over the past decade and, with the advent of team collaboration tools and similar software, telecommuting has never been a more valid working option. Whether it is remote working, flexi-time or job sharing, modern businesses should embrace and consider the possibility of remote working in order to retain talent.

A man working remotely - one of our HR consultants top tips for employee retention

Not everyone is compatible with the traditional 9-5 working hours — a system that is becoming increasingly obsolete. Some might work better in isolation, some might see an increased performance in early morning or late evening, while others might have family commitments that make working 9-5 implausible. Rather than risking losing your top employees, it is worth being more lenient on overly rigid working hours to accommodate your employees’ needs. Shifting to a results-based performance system will ensure this transition goes smoothly.

6. Offer professional development and promote from within

Professional development is becoming increasingly important to employees, demanded even. Ambitious people won’t be satisfied to remain in the same position year after year without improving existing skills or working their way up the corporate ladder. To keep hold of high performers, make sure your company has professional development initiatives and that each employee has a personal development plan.

Putting these efforts into effect will show your employees that you are dedicated to them and invested in their future. It will also allow your staff to build on existing strengths, leaving you with a more skilled and determined professional. Be sure to have a clear route of progression within your company to keep employees motivated.

Companies should first look to hire from within when the potential is there. Give your existing talent the opportunity to work their way up the ranks. They already know the company culture and your existing processes, so it makes sense to invest in your current workforce. If existing employees are constantly getting passed over in favour of external hires, they are likely to get disillusioned and look for opportunities elsewhere. Careful management will be needed and that starts by ensuring you have a rigorous and best practice assessment process in place.

7. Offer executive coaching

Once employees have worked their way up to a management position, it is worth investing in executive coaching. This one-on-one mentoring will help employees adjust to their new position, while offering unbiased, objective feedback and assistance. Executive coaches can help new managers get accustomed to the new stresses and pressures of their roles, while affording them the benefit of their experience.

Davis Associates is an HR consultancy in Surrey which has helped clients across the globe boost productivity, improve performance and reduce turnover rates. Get in touch to see how we can help your organisation go from strength to strength.

Nick Davis
Nick Davis
Nick Davis is a business Psychologist and Director at Davis Associates, helping clients across the globe to achieve greater individual, team and organisational performance. Passionate about the beneficial qualities psychology can have within the workplace, see how Nick and Davis Associates can unlock the hidden potential of your workforce, click here. You can also find Nick on Linkedin

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