5 Employee Retention Strategies

(This blog post is excerpted from an article that originally ran on ZoomShift.com.)

Do you have an employee turnover problem? Nearly 70 percent of organizations report that staff turnover has a negative financial impact due to the cost of recruiting, hiring and training a replacement employee, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Adding insult to injury is the overtime work of existing employees that’s required until the organization can fill the vacant position.

It’s been estimated that a lost employee can cost six to nine months of that employee’s salary, on average. For smaller and boutique firms working in the creative services arena, those numbers can be crushing.

There are several factors causing the churn, such as a fluctuating economy and dramatic changes in the workplaces (not to mention millennials starting to move into the management ranks).

With that in mind, check out the following 5 actionable strategies to help you reduce employee turnover and retain the talent you need to run and grow your firm.

1. Provide More Positive Feedback. We all know that employees need feedback to improve and to do their best work – both positive, and constructive advice. But in what proportion? Harvard Business Review  study shows that the ideal ratio between positive and negative suggestions is 5.6 (positive) to 1 (corrective).

Positive feedback should be given frequently to motivate employees and to give them the determination they need to do their best work.  But constructive and corrective feedback is also important, particularly when there’s an urgent issue that needs to be nipped in the bud. Moving forward, become more aware of how many negative comments you’re saying to your employees in relation to positive comments. Move the ratio towards six positive comments for every negative comment.

Your action step: Give each employee one positive bit of feedback each week.

2. Give your employees the tools they need to succeed. 

If you’re going to set goals for your workers, you need to give them the tools, resources, and information they need to succeed. All too often, employees are left to their own devices without any direction or guidance. Is it any wonder they fail to hit a target they cannot even see?

If you want to help your employees succeed, you need to be in regular communication with them, asking them specifically about the project they’re working on, and if there’s anything you can help them with to bring it to completion. You need to be willing to share your knowledge, and to mentor and guide them.

Your action step: This week, assess whether any of your team members are uncertain how to proceed with a project. Ask what they would need to move forward with their assignment, and provide it for them.

3. Give your employees an opportunity to grow. Many companies promote people from outside of the organization, and don’t offer ongoing training and education for their workers. Because there is no way to advance or improve, employees become disillusioned in their roles, and are less likely to stay.

Your action step: Find a course or a book for your employees to study this month. Tailor the resource to the individual employee.

4. Encourage creativity. Although many companies say they value creativity, they don’t necessarily have any initiatives or policies in place to support it. Google, for example, has a 20 percent program in which their employees are given the opportunity to work on side projects that interest them.

Your action step: This week, give your employees 30 minutes of creative time to brainstorm ideas or work on side projects that interest them (and connect with the firm’s overall objectives).

5. Encourage your employees to give you feedback. It’s one thing to give feedback to your employees, but you must also accept feedback from them. When workers don’t feel like their thoughts are being heard, they assume the company has no interest in improving or pursuing worthy ideas. Many employees have a tendency to think that nothing will change, even if they do propose something new.

Hay Group found that high levels of employee engagement can boost revenue by 2.5x (KaiNexus). This extends into providing them with the right tools and resources, offering feedback, and so on, in addition to encouraging them to give you feedback.

Remember, there needs to be opportunities for both public and private feedback, and it never hurts to thank those who offer their  suggestions. Create a culture where staff members feel comfortable offering their thoughts.

Your action step: Ask your employees to offer their feedback on an important project this week. For example, it could be about company culture, a high-level executive decision, or a new development in the marketplace that may require your company to adapt.

Conclusion. You’ve just learned about 5 distinct strategies that can help you retain your best workers. Instead of trying to affect change at a foundational level, why not begin work on just one strategy this week? Bookmark this page and come back when you are ready to add the next strategy.

Jon Hainstock is co-founder at ZoomShift, which provides small businesses with work schedules strategies and employee timesheets. He can be reached at [email protected]

If you are interested in Gould+Partners creating a custom employee retention plan, please contact us today to get started!

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Rick Gould, CPA, J.D., managing partner of Gould+Partners, is the author of “The Ultimate PR Agency Financial Management Handbook: How to Manage By The Numbers for Breakthrough Profitability of 20% or Greater,” and “Doing It The Right Way: 13 Crucial Steps For A Successful PR Agency Merger Or Acquisition.” 

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