Employee retention is a potentially huge factor in your business's overall success. If you can keep your top talent around for longer, you'll see higher rates of productivity, profitability, and possibly even morale. Almost more importantly, keeping your current employees with you saves you the time and money it takes to recruit new talent, train them on your systems and platforms, and get them up to speed with the team.
Trust me, it's far easier to keep your current employees around than it is to find new ones. So what is it, exactly, that keeps employees with their current employers?
1. Culture fit. Don't underestimate the power that company culture can have in attracting and retaining top talent. A highly talented worker in a niche position at a valuable, well-paying firm may still be dissatisfied if their own goals, values, and personality traits don't mesh with the other staff members or the brand overall. Likewise, a tight culture fit could potentially make up for a number of shortfalls in an employment arrangement. There's no right or wrong way to build a company culture; you just have to be consistent, and you have to find candidates who can strengthen that culture over time.
2. Money. In an ideal society, we would all work at jobs we love for free, and it wouldn't feel like work. Unfortunately, this is a world driven by monetary exchanges, personal needs, and working sacrifices to obtain those needs. Because of that, money is still an important factor in employee retention. If an employee feels like he/she isn't making as much as he/she is worth, he/she will be tempted to leave in favor of a more profitable role somewhere else. This isn't always the case; some benefits and working conditions can make up for a lower salary, but salary is still an important considering factor.
3. Responsibilities. The type of responsibilities your employees have can also have a bearing on their willingness to continue working for you. For the most part, this comes down to a level of appropriateness. For example, if you hire someone to take on a high-level strategic planning role, it may be insulting or burdensome to assign them entry-level data entry tasks regularly. It may also be inappropriate to assign someone consistent responsibilities outside the realm of his/her expertise. Doing so occasionally is no problem, but over time, this consistent pattern could lead to extreme dissatisfaction.
4. Challenges. Employees also need to feel challenged if they're going to stay somewhere, though striking this balance can be difficult as a manager and employer. You need to give your employees tasks and projects that are too difficult to breeze through, forcing them to think and develop new abilities, but not so difficult that they're overly stressful or intimidating. You also need to give them enough work to stay busy, but not so much that it's impossibly burdensome. If you're ever in doubt, take a moment to collect feedback from your team members; they'll let you know what the balance is like at the moment.
5. Growth opportunities. Employees also want growth opportunities, no matter how those may fit into your company. As a straightforward example, you could give your employees a path to growth by giving them potential lines for promotion and upward momentum within your company. This is a kind of internal, organization-based development. But you could also give your employees personal growth opportunities by giving them access to more classes, training seminars, or even personal branding opportunities. As long as your employees feel like they're making steady, measurable progress in a direction that's consistent with their goals, they'll have a good reason to stick around with you indefinitely.
6. Rewards and recognition. Even the most independent employees want a bit of recognition every once in a while. Going out of your way to congratulate an employee on a job well done or celebrating a team victory as a group can have a massive impact on morale, and be a nice reminder to your employees of why they stick around in the first place. These actions let them know they're appreciated, and give them a chance to relish in their accomplishments. They also don't have to be grand gestures; sometimes, even a pat on the back is enough to make an impact.
7. Flexibility and personal time. Employees also like working for companies that are flexible enough to respect their personal time and their own personal wants and needs. Giving your workers days off without hassle, letting them occasionally leave early or show up late, and giving them flexibility on certain deadlines can demonstrate that you truly care about your employees. Not all employers do this, and employees know that, so if you can offer this level of flexibility, they'll be more inclined to stay with you in the long term.
In a world where half of all employees are either dissatisfied or open to leaving, these seven guiding principles are too important to ignore. Your business may not be able to offer everything; for example, a small business may not have the budget to pay top talent what they deserve, but you can make up for that in other areas. Get to know your employees' needs individually, and do what you can to meet them. Good workers are hard to find, and it's worth the extra effort of keeping those valuable assets around.