Team meets to discuss the day's agenda.
Allowing employees to speak their minds and showing appreciation are two ways to retain your best workers. — People Images / Getty Images

Companies highly value employee retention because it costs time and money to replace employees, especially productive ones. Having talented employees leave your organization can also cause strain on existing employees that have to take on extra work until those roles can be filled. Given this, retaining your top employees should be a priority. Here are eight tips for keeping your very best employees.

Pay above-average salaries

One of the most obvious ways to retain your top workers is to offer better-than-average salaries and excellent benefits. This can lock employees in and encourage them to stick around for the pay and perks alone. You can also provide a specific retention bonus to give incentive to stay with the company.

“A well-compensated and engaging culture will make employees more likely to stay in their jobs long term,” author and digital consultant John Boitnott writes in Inc. “This means that you will experience less of the disruption that comes from new hires having to learn new duties. You'll also spend less time and money looking for new hires and interviewing. The recruitment process can be costly, so avoiding it as much as possible can be a positive thing.”

Allow employees to speak their minds

While it might seem small, creating a culture where employees can freely speak up – within reason – can keep employees engaged and wanting to stick around. Many employees may not want to speak up for fear of retribution, so it’s important to make sure workers feel comfortable calling out things they’d like to see changed.

“In a number of studies, we’ve found that when employees can voice their concerns freely, organizations see increased retention and stronger performance,” James R. Detert and Ethan Burris write in the Harvard Business Review.

Show appreciation and respect

On top of pay, make sure you regularly show your top employees that you appreciate them. This can include publicly recognizing employees on their achievements, celebrating birthdays, giving bonuses, and providing positive reinforcement.

“Employee appreciation can sometimes fall to the side, but it's an important part of any business's employee retention strategy,” Kristen Wessel, Vice President of PR & Digital Marketing at ChicExecs, writes in Forbes. “Show your employees you care about them, whether it's as small as a handwritten card or as grand as a huge bonus. Employees need to know that you've got their back.”

Track employee productivity and identify who stands out, then invest in those employees by providing new opportunities.

Encourage input and feedback

Employees want to know that you’re listening and really hearing their feedback. Use engagement tools such as TINYpulse, Culture Amp and Officevibe to survey how workers are performing and generally feeling. Then respond to your employee feedback in a timely fashion.

“In our business, most of our clients are trying to retain their top talent by any means necessary,” Robert Moutal, cofounder and director of client happiness at Clarity Wave, told Project Manager. “One of the reasons they hire our service is because they have figured out that creating a culture of constant feedback through micro-surveys allows people to feel heard and understood. This, in turn, fosters a sense of community that permeates the whole organization.”

Don’t micromanage

You may have been told before to not micromanage employees because it can hamper productivity, but it can also turn off high-performing employees from wanting to stick around. Micromanagement both harms morale and takes away the opportunity for employees to create better results for themselves.

“Focus on facts and results rather than the process,” Heather R. Huhman, career and workplace expert, writes in Entrepreneur. “For instance, if a goal of winning 10 new accounts has been set, have feedback revolve around whether or not those expectations have been met. Employees can look at their results and think about whether or not their process worked as well as they’d hoped. They can see what they’re doing right and what’s leading to their success, as well as how they need to adapt.”

Identify and invest in high performers

As your employees develop their skills, track employee productivity and results over time to identify which ones stand out. Then work to invest in those employees with new opportunities.

“We make sure our teams are constantly identifying high performers and high potentials,” KPMG U.S. Chairman and CEO Lynne Doughtie told Glassdoor. “Top talent wants to know we are helping them grow and develop throughout their careers. We make sure our business leaders create stretch assignments and new roles, provide mentors and sponsors, and constantly recommend opportunities to expand their careers.”

Offer the ability to grow

It may be tempting to keep your best employees in the same position with the same duties. If they are performing above expectations, why change what they are doing? But employees who do the same tasks, again and again, can also grow complacent. If they ask for more or to change things up, entertain the idea seriously.

“When your employees (and maybe even you, as their manager) aren’t allowed to grow, they begin to feel that they don’t matter,” executive coach and speaker Whitney Johnson writes in the Harvard Business Review. “They feel like a cog in a wheel, easily swapped out. If you aren’t invested in them, they won’t be invested in you, and even if they don’t walk out the door, they will mentally check out.”

Provide flexibility

Even before coronavirus and remote work were top-of-mind topics for many companies, flexible work schedules were sought after by employees. Flexibility can provide a significant incentive for your best workers to stick around.

“Collaboration, messaging, all these different solutions mean that work can be done from anywhere, anytime,” Kate Donovan, senior vice president of ManpowerGroup Solutions, told CIO. “And while it started with the younger generation, it really benefits everyone. Organizations have to understand that this is a requirement now if they want to win the war for the best talent. Because as people experience flexibility in their jobs, they’re refusing to go back to how it used to be.”

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published October 13, 2020