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Employee Retention: What Businesses Must Focus On

leadership 27th February 2017 Swapnil Kamat

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While most organizations place a lot of emphasis on hiring right, once they do get the right talent on board, they easily overlook the fact that they must have some measures in place to be able to retain that talent as well. Numerous surveys conducted show that majority of employers have no formal strategy for employee retention. It is important for organizations to understand that a high turnover rate not only increases costs incurred in hiring but also leads to an immense loss of productivity and time.

One of the biggest problems is that in the maximum number of cases, companies’ response to employee retention is reactive rather than proactive. It is only when their star performers leave or are on the verge of quitting that employers wake up. This ‘sudden’ alarming situation of talent drain leaves them exhausted. Whether it is a large business organization or a small startup, it is rather sad to see that people retention is a part of the strategic vision for very few organizations.

While the general perception is that monetary dissatisfaction is why people quit, the truth is that salary and bonuses form a very small part of the reason why employees decide to move on from any organization. In the 1950s and early 60s, American psychologist, Frederick Herzberg came up with the now famous motivator-hygiene theory that lists downs various factors that influence employees’ levels of motivation and job satisfaction. Focusing on a mix of both the motivators as well as hygiene factors can help employers improve their people retention capabilities in the long run. In the following paragraphs, I will elaborate on a couple of these factors that employers must keep in mind to retain their performers.

Performance & Recognition

This, I feel, is one of the most important factors to keep in mind. Everyone wants satisfaction from their job. This feeling of satisfaction comes when employees feel that their talents have been used to the fullest extent and that they have succeeded at the work they did. They like the sense of having made a difference with their work. When that happens, they develop a sense of belonging to the organization and feel like a part of the system. It is important for employers to recognize the talent of their workforce and assign them work accordingly. Hiring a talented person and wasting the expertise they bring with them can only be a recipe for disaster, both for the employer as well as the employee.

Related: 5 Ways to Improve Employee Productivity

Employee engagement

Employee engagement doesn’t just mean speaking to your employee once or twice a year during their performance review meetings. Engagement has to be continuous and ongoing through the year. There are many ways you can do this. Hold regular meetings with employees to understand them. Give them a chance to express their ideas and opinions, as well as ask questions. In these meetings, you can also ask employees what motivates them, what they like about the organization, what makes them stay in the organization. What you must then do is to use that information to good effect to build up your people retention strategy.

Related: How to Exercise Power and Influence in an Organization

Help employees plan their career

What many organizations fail at is to plan a career for their employees. Their first requirement, as well as instinct, is to fill their vacant roles. Beyond that, they forget that what is important for the employee is to further their own career and grow before they even align themselves with the organization. Mentor employees and help them align their professional goals with the organizations. This creates a win-win situation for both. Guide your star performers so that they can chart a course to meet their career goals in your organization. Invest in their training and development, not to get better at their existing jobs but for bigger roles. The best way to retain people is to give them a chance to advance.

Related: 6 Key Differences Between Managers and Leaders

Manage the managers

“Employees don’t quit jobs; they quit managers.” Several kinds of research have shown that 80% of employee turnover takes place because of incompetent managers. If you want to retain the best of your employees, make sure that they have managers who have the capability to nurture their talent and mentor them. Managers who are hostile or non-receptive are the biggest reason for employees quitting their jobs. When training managers and leaders in the technical aspects of a job, it is important that organizations place emphasis on soft skills as well.

Related: Secrets of Identifying and Hiring Good Managers

Work-life balance

Give your employees a healthy work-life balance. Employers often tend to focus on results so much that they fail to realize that their employees are being overworked. Recognize the fact that your employees are human beings and not machines. For that matter, even machines break down when overused. Similarly, as efficient as your employees may be, they can also burn out after a point, but that doesn’t mean you should let them suspended in the limbo.

There may be some employees whose style of working is to give their all to work. Even an employee who is hardwired to work will reach a point where they harbor ill-will towards their employer. Why? Apparent burnout because of extra hours at work. The onus lies on you, the employer, to ensure that you keep a track of their work hours and give them a break to recharge themselves.

Related: 7 Tips to Deal with Stress at Work

It is high time that organizations start taking employee retention seriously. Besides, concrete steps must be taken to ensure that their star performers remain theirs!


A version of this article was published in Entrepreneurr web magazine.

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