Employee retention is one of the most vexing issues facing business owners and leaders. It’s one of the most common themes in questions I get from clients and associates.
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Hello this is Eric Doss, the creator of the Healthy Organizations model. I want to take a few moments to talk about the most vexing that business owners and managers face, how to retain good talent. If you’ve ever been in the position of hiring, onboarding, training or recruiting talent in your organization that you understand the massive amounts of time that it takes and also the significant expense. Anything that we can do to reduce turnover to lower employee attrition rate is going to show a significant return-on-investment and that’s for time, for money, for systems.
Before we get too far down this pathway make sure that you were paying competitive rates for your employees. If you are a couple percent above or a couple percent below what the market is that’s fine if you’re 25% below what the market is it doesn’t really matter if you follow all of the steps that we’re going to talk about today because your employees can always leave and pick up at 25% bonus. Make sure that your pay is competitive!
First, I want to talk about taking care of your employees as whole people, not just as your employees. I think that one of the things that pandemic has shown us is that life outside of the office is very complicated and we are being pulled in so many different directions at the same time. If you think about your employees who are parents; they are being asked to be parents and teachers, administrators, counselors, coaches, friends and disciplinarians to their children.
If you think about people who are potentially caring for older adults they’re being pulled in many directions and even if you’re not in a caregiver role, your employees world’s have been turned upside down. It’s really important that as a business owner, as a leader, that we are showing as much flexibility as possible to make sure that we are not adding stress upon stress.
So what does it really mean to care for the whole person? Number one it means to recognize that people have lives outside your organization and did they spend two-thirds of their day and all of their weekends, I hope, not working for you. While you have a claim to their time because you’re paying them. I encourage you to think about all the ways that you can be flexible when it comes to that time and to come up with ways to reduce the stress that your employees feel. For example, if your core business hours require people to be present that’s fine, say from 11 to 3 p.m. But if there’s flexibility outside of those hours then you should take a less prescriptive approach to tell your employees when to work and when to be productive. It is entirely possible that they work best in times that don’t correspond with the regular business day. As long as that doesn’t damage your ability to serve your customer then you should be open to that.
You should also know you were employees personally. I don’t mean intimately and I don’t mean inappropriately but you should know your employees as who they are both inside your organization and outside. Having some sort of understanding of the person behind the role means that you’ll be more empathetic and open to discussions about how your employees are able to be successful inside your organization.
The second point I want to talk about is professional development. A lot of businesses spend a great deal of money on professional development and I know a lot of businesses that believe professional development should be showing initiative about. I’m going to be a little provocative and say that a business or an organization should be paying for whatever reasonable professional development an employee is asking for. Asking for the opportunity to do professional development means your employee wants to grow in their role, they want to either the breadth or the depth of their knowledge. As long as that’s tied back to the work that they do at your organization, then it is money well spent, not just money well spent because you’re going to have an employee who is more adept , who is more educated, who is more knowledgeable, who has more information to do the work that you’ve hired them to do, but it also aligns you with their career goals.
The last thing I want to talk about today is feedback and recognition. One of the biggest anxieties that employees have in an organization is not knowing how they’re doing ,is not knowing how they’re their performance benchmarks against expectations, against their colleagues, against their goals and needs for career advancement. Feedback is essential to retaining employees. If you’re not giving your employees feedback in a timely and relevant manner they are existing in a world where they just don’t know how they’re doing and they’re unsure about if they’re contributing to the success of the business. In as much as possible make sure that you have systems and processes in place to provide feedback in near real-time. We’ll talk about this more in another video, but making sure that your employees are never unsure about where they stand is essential to retaining good employees.
The last thing we should talk about is recognition. When we talk about recognition that’s the natural extension of giving feedback. Once we’re in the habit of giving people positive and negative feedback we also need to be in the habit of recognizing achievements in a more public way. People will tell you how they want to be recognized it’s a very simple thing to ask. Some people want to be recognized publicly at a staff meeting or at a company party or in a very public and open way, while other people would shrink back from that sort of recognition and would prefer a conversation between the leader and the employee acknowledging their work and recognizing their contributions. People also will be really clear about what they think they should receive this recognition some people want promotions, some people are happy to just have the verbal recognition, while other people are motivated more by money or by title or by status or any number of things. It’s important to have those conversations with employees, to ask them how they want to be recognized. If you have a great performer who is really shy then you’re doing everybody a disservice if you call them up in front of a company meeting and recognize the work that they’ve done. It’s up to you to get creative about how you recognize performance and success.
We’ve talked about pay, we’ve talked about recognizing and supporting the whole employee, we’ve talked about professional development opportunities and about feedback and recognition. Before you go, I’d like for you to leave a comment in the comments section below this video, and let me know what’s the toughest part of those four things for you as a leader. What’s the hardest for you to wrap your hands around when it comes to employee retention.
If you’d like to talk more about how healthy organizations retain employees better and unhealthy ones you can contact me here leave, leave me a note in the comments, or go to my website, www.erichdoss.com and you can set an appointment directly from my website to chat with me and I’d love the opportunity to talk about your organization’s health and how improving that will improve your employee retention numbers. Thank you.