You now know the reasons why employees leave your company (see my 17 April post), and last week (27 April) I described two of the five top strategies that will help you keep them: creating and maintaining an attractive and nourishing working environment, and developing effective employee relationship strategies. To complete the picture, here are strategies 3, 4 and 5.
3. Employee support strategies
All employee support strategies are based on the fact that people want to excel, but need two things: adequate resources to get the job done, and moral and mental support from you and your managers. When they have these, their job satisfaction increases dramatically. The two key words here are attitudes and information.
Attitudes: Do you and your senior management team see employees merely as cogs in a wheel, or as valuable resources that make the company go? Do you expect high performance or mediocrity from them? If you believe – rightly –that people want to excel, you will treat them much more positively.
Information: Make sure your people know what the company is about and why you do things the way you do. Help them understand all the nuances of their jobs – for example, why what they do is important to the company, and what customers’ expectations are. Show them sales figures and some of the financials. You don’t have to disclose salaries and other sensitive information, but let them see performance measurements.
Other employee support strategies include:
- giving people productive work to do
- providing challenges
- removing obstacles and barriers to getting the job done
- adjusting jobs to fit strengths, abilities and talents
- keeping your promises
- establishing effective communication systems
- clearly defining job responsibilities and accountabilities
- encouraging people to take the initiative
- encouraging, recognising and rewarding creativity and innovation
- avoiding micro-management
- reducing reporting requirements
- when possible, offering job flexibility.
4. Employee growth strategies
Good employees want to develop new knowledge and skills in order to improve their value in the marketplace and enhance their own self-esteem. Helping them with personal growth will not only make a difference in their lives, but bond them more closely to the organisation.
So take time to explore their needs and how best you can meet them. For example, you can provide:
- in-house skills training and development
- outside seminars and workshops
- funding for college and continuing education
- CD/DVD, podcast and online learning
- workshops where employees can present on their areas of expertise
- outside experts to educate employees about subjects that affect their personal lives – for instance, how to get the best deal on car insurance.
The last point above is the one that will set you apart from other employers and show that you truly care about your employees as people, not just as workers who can make money for you.
Other recommended employee support strategies include:
- establishing a learning culture
- creating individual learning plans
- encouraging people to join professional and trade associations
- investing in career planning
- operating a corporate mentoring programme
- providing incentives for learning
- taking advantage of internet learning.
5. Employee compensation strategies
Today, more and more companies are paying their people for performance, not just for their time. Your compensation plan needs to incorporate this trend if you wish to retain employees.
A pay-for-performance strategy involves defining the job and checking performance against expectations. When an employee exceeds expectations, give them a bonus.
Lay the plan out in advance, so that people understand your expectations and what they have to do to get the bonus. But base it on predefined profit targets, so that you don’t pay out if the company doesn’t make money.
Money alone is not enough to keep today’s employees engaged and loyal, so smart employers use a range of hard (monetary) and soft (non-monetary) compensation strategies. For example:
- Discuss total employee compensation (salary, benefits, bonuses, training, etc.).
- Design reward systems that stimulate employee involvement.
- Use flexible employee benefits to respond to a changing workforce.
- Offer stock options.
- Offer time off, sabbaticals and other forms of non-financial employee compensation.
- Provide childcare and/or eldercare.
- Provide employee assistance programmes.
- Arrange for discounts on purchases.
- Arrange for professional services.
- Fund fitness club memberships.
Remember, though, that compensation is only one piece of the employee retention puzzle. If all the other pieces – the environmental, relationship, support and growth strategies – don’t fit together into one interlocking whole, you won’t be able to pay people enough to work for you.