5 employee retention strategies that work for SMBs

You’ve invested a lot of time and money recruiting and hiring great talent. Find out how to keep them!

With competition for top talent continuing to increase, the last thing your company needs is for good employees to leave. And, while you may not think you can control that, a recent survey shows that 42% of people who changed jobs would have stayed if their employer had done something.

The question then becomes, what is it you can do that will make them want to stay? Often creative strategies that go beyond increased pay and benefits can be implemented to attract and retain employees. Here are five things you should start doing now to keep top talent.  

1. Make sure candidates are a long-term fit during the interview
If you want employees that will stay with your company, you need to uncover what is most important to them during the interview process. You should find out:
  • Their short as well as long term goals.
  • What they would have changed about their last place of employment, if they were their boss.
  • Additional talents they wish to utilize in their career. Their CV or Resume is a picture of who they were and are, not necessarily who they want to be in the future.
  • What type of company culture and management would motivate them to excel. 
  • Their reasons for leaving their past employer.
If you feel like the candidates answer don’t align with the role you are hiring for or your company’s values, then it's unlikely they’ll stay with you for very long no matter what you do.

2. Be transparent about performance standards and goals
People possess a desire to feel like they’re succeeding in their career and that they are having a real impact on the company. If they are unsure of where they stand, they might start looking elsewhere.
So, make sure to have transparent performance standards and goals in place to clear up any confusion. When employees feel their actions are having the desired results, they become more engaged and develop a sense of loyalty.

3. Make managers accountable for employee retention
Managers play a significant role in influencing employee’s commitment level and retention. In fact, there is a direct correlation between management practices and employee job satisfaction.
Effective management practices focus not only on what an employee is contributing to the company, but also on how their manager can create a climate that keeps the employee committed on a long term basis. To do this, managers should participate in ongoing training on soft skills and employee engagement throughout their career.
In addition, managers should be accountable for retention of their employees. If retention is viewed as an HR issue, it too often is not viewed as a priority by management. When there is accountability and retention becomes a business goal, it takes on a new perspective.

4. Create a healthy work-life balance for employees
Often, time off or flexible working hours are more important than compensation. Find the balance that keeps your employees happy and productive. By doing this, you’ll also strengthen their personal bond with your company.
In any relationship including that of employer and employee, people want to know three things.
  1. Do you care about me?
  2. Can I trust you?
  3. Do you do what you say you’re going to do?
When you create a company culture that promotes work-life balance, the answer to all three questions is yes. And this will positively impact retention.

5. Give employees the opportunity to grow and learn
According to the same survey mentioned previously, the number one reason people change jobs is for career advancement. So to retain employees, you need to give them the opportunity to grow within your company.
On the job training is a great way to do this, as are mentorship programs and leadership programs that can help individuals learn skills they need in order to be promoted. 
Also, consider cross-training on key positions. Your best employees will be more likely to stay, if they have an opportunity to advance.

Final thought
The loss of a key employee who has special expertise or who maintains valued customer relationships can be extremely costly to even the largest employers, as the cost of replacing them has a negative impact on efficiency and profitability.
In this unpredictable job market and organizational changes, retention must be treated as a top priority from the C-Suite throughout your entire organization. You might even consider creating a CRO (Chief Retention Officer) position to address attrition. And, it is critical to educate your managers to create an environment where today’s top talent can advance and thrive. The alternative is too costly.

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