Over the last few decades, the workforce has become more transient and loyalty to a specific company no longer exists as it used to. Gone are the days of starting at a company in your early 20’s, putting in your 30 years, hopefully getting a promotion or two and retiring with a modest pension. Most people will work for several employers over their career, most likely in several industries and roles. Good employees know there are other opportunities out there, and if they are not treated right, they are happy to go somewhere else. Even though employees seem to be switching jobs at an alarming pace, it doesn’t have to be the norm. You will never stop all employees from leaving, but you can stop doing things that actively run them off. Obviously money is a big factor in employee retention, but not all companies have the option to fork over more cash to keep an employee. If you can afford to pay your best people more to keep them, by all means do it. It will save you money in the long-run. But, if you don’t have spare cash just laying around, don’t worry. There are still other steps you can take to retain your employees.
Have Fun Together
Employees want to feel like more than just a tool that you use to make profits or accomplish your mission. They want to know that you see them as a real person and actually care about them being happy. You can do this with some creativity and a little bit of cash. Spend some time with your employees and get to know them outside the office. Some examples of activities you could do would be to take your team out for an afternoon baseball game, treat them to a long lunch at the fancy new restaurant in your neighborhood or go to visit a museum. One critical point is to make sure you do it during working hours and pay them for going. Nothing will kill the mood faster than asking them to come in on their free time because you are too cheap to pay a few extra hours. It may cost you a few production hours at work, but this cost is nothing compared to what it will cost to recruit and train a new employee.
Listen to Them
Employees are not robots that you program to do exactly what you want. They are living, breathing creatures who have a brain and can actually come up with some good ideas. I know this is scary, but their ideas may actually be better than yours sometimes. Next time you are planning your big project, bring your team together and get their input. Now you obviously don’t have to do everything they say, but you should actively listen and implement some of their good ideas into your plan. By doing this, your employees will buy-in on the plan and be more enthusiastic about implementing it. As they feel like part of the team, they will have a greater connection and loyalty to your business and this will help retention. On a more selfish note, this method will also help your bottom line. If you manage with only your ideas, you can only go so far. When you allow the group to brainstorm, they will come up with innovative ideas that you could have never dreamed of.
Don’t feel the need to completely separate business and personal. You should know the names of your employees’ spouses and kids. You should know what they like to do in their recreation time on the weekend. You should know what they love and what drives them crazy. Obviously you don’t want to get too personal and talk about topics that are inappropriate or uncomfortable, but you should make an effort to get past the superficial and get to know them as a person. Even though people put up walls instinctively, they really like it when somebody takes the time to get to know them. Your employee will be impressed that you remembered his boy’s first birthday is coming up or that you asked him details about his vacation to the beach. It is more difficult to leave for a better option when you have a great relationship with your supervisor.