Strategy

Proven Employee Retention Strategies

No discussion of employee retention can be had without recognizing that the key to success will lie in effective internal communication and a fully realized and implemented approach to employee engagement. This will lie at the heart of all successful employee retention strategies.

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What are Employment Retention Strategies and Why Do We Need Them?

Bottom line… quality staff, the kind your competitors want to acquire for their organizational success, are expensive to find, train, and retain. So, if you already have the right qualities within your workforce, it makes financial sense to maintain high levels of employee engagement, job satisfaction, and company loyalty through retention strategies that meet and, ideally, exceed the expectations of your brightest and best.

This is where an effective approach to employee retention can make a difference. 

At its most basic a good strategy will encompass employee retention techniques which

  • Ask employees questions about what they think
  • Foster an open organizational structure through effective internal communications 
  • Ensure they feel their contributions action real change by management
  • Create internal job opportunities and career growth
  • Ensure that learning opportunities meet and exceed employee expectations
  • Recognize that interpersonal dynamics within the workforce are key to effective individual and team results, as well as work satisfaction 

 

If strategy is about the big picture ‘vision thing’, the art comes in the way this vision is achieved; the retention techniques. At its heart will be a raft of well-established practices that have evolved over many years of human resources management. 

 

While not exhaustive this includes job design, effective internal communications, company culture, recruitment and selection, performance management, recruitment and training, personal development, and last, but equally vital, health and wellbeing.

 

The strategy seeks to take the often challenging external factors (market conditions, competition, availability of skills in the marketplace) into consideration and mesh these with an optimal mix of techniques to first gain and crucially, retain quality staff for the long-term benefit of the organization.

 

The Importance of Employee Retention

Speaking about the hiring process Mike Kappel explains, “Onboarding is a make or breaks time for employees. Done well, onboarding can increase your employee retention rate. Done poorly, onboarding can result in employees quitting within six months of starting.”

 

In simple terms, having a great strategy that falls down in implementation is an Achilles heel best avoided. As Kappel concludes, “If employees are significantly confused about how to do their jobs after onboarding, you could have problems down the road. They could become frustrated with the lack of communication, leading to disengagement.”

 

Thus it can be argued that employee retention begins before a potential recruit to the firm even joins the payroll. Their whole experience, from the interview to onboarding and career development will have a significant impact on their perceptions of and satisfaction with the company. It is the sum of the employee’s experiences with the organization which will directly influence their levels of engagement and loyalty and not solely whether their pay and perks are X percent better or worse than a comparable company.

 

As Margaret Rogers sees it, “In my experience, the most impactful development happens not through formal programs, but smaller moments that occur within the workplace: on-the-job learning opportunities that are wholeheartedly catered to the worker’s unique needs and challenges.”

 

Implicit in this approach is a recognition that managers at all levels need to be fully aware that formal processes and practices of employee development will only go so far to achieve a strategic goal of talent retention. It’s also about the kind of culture an organization fosters and which creates commitment.

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What Does an Employee Retention Process Look Like?

An example some might consider a cheerleader for the future is outdoor fashion retailer Patagonia. With 3,000 staff worldwide it has been lauded for its hugely successful employee retention strategy and practices.

 

As Bruce Anderson explains, “The outdoor retailer Patagonia makes iconic fleeces and hoodies, backpacks and Baggies. But its signature product may be its irreverent, unconventional, one-of-a-kind culture.” 

 

That culture is one in which the well-being of staff and their families is at the heart of its strategic goals and has formed a powerful basis for its employee retention strategies and practices. An example of this culture in action includes

 

  1. Reading resumes bottom up. It often says and explains more
  2. Making work flexibility a source of company strength (and differentiation)
  3. Providing benefits that reflect company culture and values
  4. Having at least one powerful demonstration of how the organization supports these values
  5. Reinforces the company culture at every opportunity

 

As Bruce Anderson sums up, “The product innovation, the stewardship, and the happy workforce all flow out of the profoundly simple goal at Patagonia: “Do well and do good.”

 

It’s becoming increasingly clear that companies have to compete for employee mindshare before, during, and even after they have departed. The challenge for senior management is recognizing that it’s not simply an exercise in applying a well-established HR box-of-tricks but realizing that people from the intellectual capital; the bedrock, of an organization. This bedrock provides the foundations for future opportunities and successes and can no longer be ancillary to a company’s strategic aims, but must be at the heart of how it will compete and flourish in the 21st century. 

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