You know the only thing that’s more expensive than hiring, paying, and training new employees? Losing an employee and having to do it all over again. Over and over I see that improving employee retention is one of the smartest and most fiscally sound moves any business can make. The trouble is that it can keep forever may quit on short notice and leave you with a void in your company. As usual, a little planning can go a long way to reducing employee turnover and keeping your staff stable and productive.
STEP 1: Hire into your culture.
Here’s a secret: turnover can start on a new employee’s very first day! Rather than hiring only for a particular skill set and hoping that the qualified applicant will find a way to fit into your company, you’re far better off hiring someone with aptitude and who also fits into your existing company culture. You can train folks, but you can’t alter their personalities. Is your business light-hearted and fun? Hiring someone who’d find a nerf gun battle inappropriate may not work out long-term. Is your office buttoned down and no-nonsense? Hiring someone whose idea of business casual means having to put on shoes may be a mistake. Hiring into your culture means that you must first understand the climate you’ve created, and then you need to work on matching your prospective hires with your environment. Remember – turnover is gradual. That “last straw” moment only tells part of the story, and you’re better off if you hire staff who’ll fit in seamlessly.
STEP 2: Treat your staff like gold.
Ideally – once you have a solid staff established – the only reason your employees should want to leave is if they’re not sufficiently challenged. Realize that top employees are worth landing and research the industry standard in terms of compensation … and then exceed that standard. One highly-paid, really great employee can be a much better value in the long run than three entry level, mediocre ones, so it’s worth your while to ensure that those top hires are satisfied. Top employees give you efficient work, satisfied customers, and peace of mind, and if you look at your bottom line, factoring in things like how much time and money you’ll lose if you have to replace one of your rock star staff members, you’ll often discover that investing heavily in your staff is the wisest choice you can make.
STEP 3: Open an honest dialogue.
Change is inevitable. Your employee’s lifestyle and needs may change. You may decide to shift the direction you’re taking your business. Change can be exciting, but it can also be stressful, and it can alter other aspects of your business. They key to retaining great employees through your business’ permutations is to ensure that information flows freely and honestly – in both directions. Keep your staff informed about where your company is headed and keep your eyes and your ears open for concerns and long-term patterns among your staff. For example, if you notice that you tend to lose staff at around the two year mark, you need to examine the causes. You need to check in to make sure folks aren’t overloaded and on track to burn out. Honest communication is the foundation of solid business relationships, and mutual trust yields honesty and loyalty – in both directions. Make sure your staff knows that you value their contributions and you think enough of them to keep them in the loop in terms of what’s ahead for the company.
Given the relatively high unemployment numbers, you can certainly find staff who are willing to do a job on the cheap. But when you factor in the costs associated with hiring and training new staff, you see immediately that it’s a much better long-term decision to find, hire, and retain the best people, even if that costs a little more in terms of payroll. You’re hiring more productive staff, and you’ll realize long-term benefits in keeping them satisfied. Is there a place for short-term labor? Sure, but make sure your key positions are filled with well-compensated staff who know their value to you and your company, and who are invested in an honest relationship that’s mutually beneficial.