The current economic climate has led to an interesting new trend in business. In a recent study by CareerBuilder, only 45 percent of employers saw employee retention as a problem, while 87 percent of employees are open to a new job opportunity or are actively seeking a new job. This extreme difference in the views of the current hiring situation shows that many businesses may be vulnerable to losing their top employees, and may not even know it.
So what can businesses do to guarantee that their best employees won’t be leaving for greener pastures? There are several steps employers can take to make sure the most valuable employees in their company are going to be there long term.
Improve the Work Environment
First, provide a work environment that gives employees respect, recognition, and feedback, with some fun mixed in every now and then for good measure. Top employees want to know they will be given one of the basic aspects of the work place, respect. Remove respect from your office, and be prepared to see the very best of the team walk out the door quickly. A respectful work environment should include recognition for accomplishments and goals being met, but also feedback and constructive criticism to encourage growth.
Most employees want to do a great job for their company, and desire to produce great results, so they deserve to be recognized for their efforts. Helpful advice on a project or tips on what to do before the next presentation helps employees perform better and feel like they are needed at work. And, a work environment with the occasional family day or ice cream social during a break lets employees know the company cares about them.
Offer Training Opportunities
The next way to encourage the best employees to stay with a company is to offer training and learning options. Training can come in several varieties, including onsite computer or leadership classes, mentorship programs, or reimbursement for classes at a local university or vocational school. In a survey of 1,400 chief financial officers, 29 percent planned on offering training or education in 2011, while 24 percent planned on offering a mentorship program.
These additional learning opportunities not only help employees feel more committed to the company, but also provide businesses with employees who are better trained, loyal to the company and willing to go out into the community to talk about the great benefits they receive.
The final, and usually most talked about way to retain great employees, is to offer a competitive compensation and benefits package. The most obvious of ways to keep great employees is to pay them more, but in today’s economic climate, a pay raise may not be feasible for small businesses. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t creative ways to offer the hardest working employees benefits other companies don’t have.
The best employees know their company may not be able to give them a bonus or pay raise right now, but a small form of appreciation can make a big difference in their decision to search for a new job or stay in their current position. Consider offering a flexible work schedule one or two days a week. In a 2010 report from the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, a flexible work program that allowed 10 to 15 percent of its employee’s flexible hours helped increase retention rates by 15 percent.
If it’s not already offered, a corporate wellness program – whether through an onsite work gym, weight management programs, company-paid gym memberships, or wellness activities like company sports teams in local intramural leagues –is a great way to help retain your top talent. A survey by the Principal Financial Group showed that 53 percent of employees used company-offered weight-loss programs in 2010, compared to 28 percent the year before. The same survey also showed that 48 percent of employees participating in some form of company wellness programs were motivated to stay with their employer.
The best employees will always be in high demand, but that doesn’t mean companies have to lose them. With a few, cost-effective programs and work environment changes, the best employees will be more committed to their employer and, because of their contentment in their role, can attract even more hard-working, dedicated employees.