Losing valuable employees can be a major problem for employers, but luckily there are various factors that can be identified and improved upon in order to bolster employee retention. Aside from certain unavoidable circumstances, such as an employee’s need for geographical change due to family or relationship matters, many elements of the workplace and employer/employee interaction can be improved upon in order to keep your busiest bees in the hive.
Employees want to feel valued and appreciated. Aside from appropriate recognition for their efforts, which is in part a factor involved in potential employee flight, employees also prefer to use their strongest skills rather than whatever their position requires/what they were hired for. Many employees are hired based on a specific skill or qualification that an employer spotlighted when initially viewing their resume, and were offered a position that wasn’t quite what the employee saw as ideal. The employee is then roped into a position that they are either less passionate about or less skilled in, but continue to do the job for the sake of employment. As an employer, it is important to recognize the major strengths of each employee and to be open and flexible in terms of the employee’s responsibilities. If “Bill” the market researcher is a strong writer, allow him to write occasional copy. If “Sarah” the HR representative has a strong background in web design, allow her to take part in the development and maintenance of the company website.
Employees also desire proper work-life balance. Employers can help their employees achieve such balance with flexible scheduling or opportunities to work from home, but the ideal solution is actually to make the workplace less of a workplace. According to Payscale.com, employees spend approximately 13 years of their life at work. Because such a huge portion of an employee’s life is spent in the office, the office should be less of an office and more of a comfortable, fun, and natural environment. Free lunch Fridays, relaxing common areas, coffee/tea, autonomous working conditions, and other “homey” elements will weaken the disconnect from work and life, allowing for a more cohesive career experience for the employee. An office filled with friends, food and fun acts as a second home away from home, rather than a row of cubicles accompanied by a flickering halogen light illuminating the grimacing faces of your fellow unhappy employees.
Aside from these cultural elements, one of the most common issues that cause employees to pack their bags is the lack of opportunity for advancement. Almost every employee is actively seeking more responsibility and higher compensation, and will either leave because they viewed their job as a stepping stone to a higher position elsewhere, or would have liked to stay and climb the ladder further but saw no potential for promotion or change in the scope of their position. As an employer, it is important to pay close attention to any employee exceeding expectations and to grant more responsibilities and an increase in salary when appropriate.
The most crucial improvement an employer can make however is an increase in employer/employee communication. Sit down with your employees and discuss with them their ambitions, feelings, and levels of stress. Your workforce is what powers the engine of your business, and you need to ensure that all parts are taken care of and functioning properly as well as to the best of their ability. Simply listening to your employees will make them feel more appreciated, which is half the battle. Subsequently acting on their feelings and suggestions will then most likely ensure that they stick around in the long run.