Employee retention is critical to the long term health and success of your business. Retaining your best employees ensures customer satisfaction, product sales, satisfied co-workers and reporting staff, effective succession planning and building organisational knowledge and learning.

It was fascinating to read what Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s Senior Vice-President – Retail and Online Stores, has said recently about why workers stay at the tech giant.

Speaking to Fast Company, she said retail stores “unite” and “collaborate” the workforce. Most importantly, everyone is treated the same. 

She went on to say: “We just ended the year with the highest retention rates we’ve ever had – 81%. And the feedback [from Apple Store employees is that it’s] because they feel connected. They feel like one Apple. They don’t feel like they’re just somebody over here working with customers. I don’t see them as retail employees. I see them as executives in the company who are touching the customers with the products that … the team took years to build. Somebody has to deliver it to the customer in a wonderful way.”

This is a great story to read, and the way Apple treats their staff by really empowering them and engaging with them, are messages all of us can use.

Now I don’t want to muddy the water, if managers know these facts so well, why do they believe in ways that so frequently encourage great employees to quit their jobs?

So with Apple in mind, here are 5 ways to retain a great employee:-

1. Expectations

Management thinkers all agree that a satisfied employee knows clearly what is expected of them every day at work. Changing expectations keeps people on edge and creates unnecessary stress.

They rob employees of internal security and make the employee feel unsuccessful. This is not advocating unchanging jobs – rather just the need for an environment within which people clearly know what is expected from them.

2. Communication

The ability of the employee to speak their mind freely within the organisation is another key factor in employee retention.

Does your organisation solicit ideas and provide an environment in which people are comfortable providing feedback?

If so, employees offer ideas, feel free to criticise and commit to continuous improvement. If not, they bite their tongues or find themselves constantly in trouble – until they leave.

3. Talent

Talent and skill utilisation is another environmental factor your key employees seek out in your workplace. A motivated employee wants to contribute to work areas outside of their specific job description.

How many people could contribute far more than they currently do?

How many people have untapped strengths?

You just need to know their skills, talent and experience and take time to tap into them.

4. Learning

Your best employees, those employees you want to retain, seek frequent opportunities to learn, develop as people and grow in their careers, knowledge and skills.

Without new opportunities – to sit on challenging and significant teams, to work on meaningful projects, to take on stretching responsibilities, to attend seminars and training – they feel they will stagnate.

A career-oriented, valued employee must experience growth opportunities within your organisation.

5. Recognition

Your staff members must feel rewarded, recognised and appreciated. This is so key and critical to retention success.

Frequently saying “thank you” goes a long way. Monetary reward, bonuses and gifts make the thank you even more appreciated.

Understandable pay rises, tied to accomplishments and achievement, help retain staff.

Commission and bonus payments that are easily calculated on a daily/weekly basis and easily understood, increase motivation and staff retention.

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