employee retention strategies

Our five favourite employee retention strategies

Do you want to keep your best employees?

You might think money, vacation time, health benefits are things that keep people working hard.

In a few cases, that might be true, but more often than not, those financial benefits rank low on why we stay in a job.

Think back over your career, the jobs you’ve had that you loved — the ones where you really enjoyed yourself, you dove into the work, you thrived.

Now think about what was great.

Chances are you aren’t thinking about your retirement savings plan, you aren’t remembering the amount of your biweekly deposit or the coverage you had for your eyeglasses.

You’re probably thinking about the work you got to do, the manager you had, the colleagues, and the opportunities.

If you want your best employees to stay with you (and they’re the ones most likely not coming to work for the money) then here are the top five retention strategies to help you keep your rock stars happy and productive.

People need to be seen, heard and understood.

This is a mantra for us as executive coaches, and if you memorize this alone, it will take you a long way as a leader too.

People want to be seen and to know that the boss is aware of them and the work they’re doing.

But more so, they want to be heard. They want to be asked for their input and to know that their opinion is listened to with interest.

And most of all, they want to be understood — that is, to be listened to without judgment, to feel validated in their dreams, aspirations, their fears, and their motivators.

People want meaning and purpose in their work.

I hear a lot of leaders say that the folks working for them don’t get the big picture. They’re focused on their day-to-day tasks without thinking about how to achieve the bigger vision.

This is, in large part, a leadership failing. It’s our job as leaders to help people see how their work translates into achieving the bigger picture — to paint the picture for them in such a way that they see their own importance.

People need to feel safe at work.

I’m not talking about a health and safety program (although that’s important too) — what I’m talking about here is that they need confidence boosters from you.

They need emotionally intelligent leaders who listen, encourage, praise and support their growth. They want leaders who give them hope and, of course, they need to be free of bullying and coercion.

They want you to show them that their values are accepted and part of them.|

People want to know what’s happening in the organization.

Gallup research does a massive annual survey around the world about worker engagement. The second most common problem cited by employees about leadership is a lack of communication.

A sense of hiding information, failing to share information or wielding information as a source of power leads to confusion, fear, mistrust and all sorts of dysfunction.

Good employees are always the first to leave uncertainty.

People need feedback.

No, the archaic annual performance review is not enough.

People need rich feedback, as soon as possible in the moment.

This includes positive feedback about what they’re doing well and constructive feedback on where they can improve.

We offer a number of leadership workshops that touch on communicating with staff and peers and specifically giving feedback. Participants tell us one of the most frightening exercises we do is asking them to give feedback to a colleague, face to face, right now.

But interestingly, they also tell us that:

  1. It was way easier than they thought;
  2. The other person appreciated the insight;
  3. It’s harder to give feedback than to receive it — so holding back is supporting you, not them, and
  4. They look forward to trying it again — knowing it gets easier, and more effective, each time they try.

Coach’s Questions:

If you were to tell us who your best employees are today, and five years from now we asked them what jobs they loved the most over their careers, would the one they’re doing today be on the list? Would they still be with you?

What are you willing to start this week, to ensure it is and to ensure they are?

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