High voluntary turnover is often a sign your organisation has deeper problems that need addressing – from a toxic culture to a lack of purpose, boredom, work overload and weak leadership, the reasons dissatisfied staff choose to move on are numerous.
From a business perspective, poor employee retention is costly. Every employee who leaves your organisation takes company knowledge with them, and that intellectual property can be invaluable. It can also have a detrimental effect on the remaining employees’ morale.
Then there’s the time and resources needed to recruit, replace and retrain someone new.
“It’s not just the cost of recruitment – you’re also taking valuable time away from anyone involved in developing that new hire.”
If turnover is happening regularly, it has a cumulative negative effect on an organisation. With this in mind, Smith recommends the following strategies to keep your people engaged, happy and on the team.
Happy staff, happy customers
Keeping knowledge within the company fuels greater staff productivity, enabling growth and setting you up to hit your business goals, Smith says.
Another bonus by-product of retaining good staff is improved employee experience, which is directly connected to customer retention.
A lot of companies talk about the importance of providing an excellent customer experience, but they don’t realise that a big contributing factor is creating a good employer experience first.
“Staff are unlikely to give customers an enjoyable experience if they’re not feeling engaged or valued, or if they don’t believe in the purpose of what their organisation stands for, or why they do what they do,” explains Smith.
So…where to start?
According to Smith, there are a number of practical, modern strategies that any organisation can easily implement to encourage staff to invest in wholly their company. Here are his top five…
1. Commit to career-mapping
Ask your employees about their longer-term career goals. What does their next job look like? And the one after that? From there, devise a plan that equips each member of staff with the skills, training and knowledge they need to get where they want to go.
Providing your employees with the tools to succeed has a positive impact on workplace culture and creates loyalty: a key factor in retention. According to a LinkedIn report, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their professional development.
“If you provide a road map for growth and development, people will give you a lot more in terms of application and commitment,” Smith says.
“You’ll also boost your employer brand so that you become a destination hub – a place where people want to work in the future.”
2. Build a brand advocacy network
According to Smith, building a ‘brand advocacy network’ that starts from the very first interaction with a potential employee right through to the offboarding process can go a long way in improving retention.
“I’ve seen onboarding videos with current employees saying what a great place this is to work, but imagine if you had a former employee saying: ‘I’m general manager of XYZ company now, but I wouldn’t have this job without the training and development I received here’.
“I think that’s a lot more powerful, because people can truly begin to understand why it’s an excellent place to work, grow and be valued,” explains Smith.
3. Facilitate two-way feedback
Encouraging your team to share honest feedback increases employee experience, trust and engagement.
In one study, employees who felt heard were 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. And in another, 89% of HR leaders agreed that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins positively impacted their organisations by improving employee engagement, organisational culture and overall employee experience.
But check-ins need to be much more regular than once or twice a year, Smith says.
- Make the surveys anonymous
- Keep them objective
- Avoid leading questions
- Provide deadlines as surveys work best when responses are returned in a timely manner
- Address all feedback – positive and negative
Employees will feel disengaged, as though no one is listening, if you’re not responding to their feedback or those check-ins.
4. Focus on your team’s life goals
Like corporate giving programs, allowing an employee to pursue short- and long-term life goals while working for your business gives them a greater sense of purpose, harnessing a positive effect on their work performance.
So – how can your business help employees achieve their dreams, big and small? Do you need to afford them more time to spend on a creative project or spiritual pursuit, or arrange for part of their salary to go towards their dream house? Is there part time study they’re interested in that you can support?
“A lot of people advocate for the separation of work and personal life, but I don’t see how you can have one without the other,” Smith says.
“Good leaders are acutely aware that in order for people to succeed at work, they need to have a stable foundation at home. And it goes the other way – in order to have a stable home life, you need a stable foundation at work.”
5. Invest in your leadership team
Which brings Smith to his most important retention tip: “Provide your leaders with the training and support they need to manage their teams properly.”
It’s an investment, Smith says, that will lead to greater employee retention than any other.
“The foundation for employee retention is excellent leadership. When you have people in charge who know how to communicate openly and effectively, others feel heard and valued, and develop a sense of purpose. This will go a long way to ensuring your staff stay longer.”