Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 33 seconds

employeesWith unemployment continuing to hover at record lows, ‘employee retention’ has become an HR buzzword. The concept behind this term is very simple. It involves figuring out what you need to do to make your company the company where everyone wants to work.

How do you do that?

Differences in industry and geography may cause some variation, but there are some constants that, when done right, can have a dramatic impact on employee longevity.

1) Manage the Basics:

Most people need a job to receive a paycheck so they can pay their bills. This basic need means that it’s important to be competitive in financial matters. Benchmark the jobs your employees perform to find the typical pay for your industry and your market. Structure the pay scale in such a way to ensure that if a competitor tries to woo your employees away, financial considerations won’t be the reason they might entertain such a conversation.

Note: Don’t forget about ‘add-ons.’ In addition to a competitive salary or hourly wage, consider a bonus pool of some sort. Bonus programs have a positive effect on perceived financial enticements, and can be used to incentivize specific efforts around a particular goal. This tends to increase an employee’s emotional investment in the company‘s success.

2) Reinforce the Company Vision

People like to feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves. By keeping the larger strategic reasons-for-being constantly in the forefront, employees will remember why they like this company and how they are contributing to the greater good. This gives employees additional motivation because their jobs have purpose and meaning beyond just their own individual wants and needs.

People also like to take pride in the work they are doing. Sharing the company vision elevates everyday tasks and adds more meaning to everyone’s work.

3) Measure and report

When you set annual, monthly, or even weekly goals, make sure they are SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Reasonable and Time-Bound. This makes the goals very tangible for employees to see what they are trying to accomplish and how close they are to achieving those goals. Regularly reporting on progress increases accountability and keeps those goals front and center. It also helps people stay focused on the tasks at hand.

4) Create a culture of connection

People want to feel a sense of community and belonging. While it’s nice if you can connect personally with your employees, that is not always possible. What is important, however, is that they connect with someone. Foster an environment of respect and appreciation, and create

opportunities for people to interact with one another. This could be a structured opportunity, like a monthly birthday celebration or a company picnic, or it could be less defined, such as a break room where everyone gathers or a lunchroom where people eat together.

By creating a connected culture, people will also feel more accountable to one another, and this will reinforce positive ethical behavior. When you care for the people you work with, it’s harder to be dishonest, cut corners, or slack off, as no one wants to disappoint those they like and respect.

While these steps seem very basic, it actually requires a sophisticated human resources mindset to structure company activities around these dynamics. The benefits, though, are definitely worth the effort. if your company is known as ‘the place where everyone wants to work,’ recruiting new employees gets even easier. Taking time with these efforts now will be fruitful down the road, opening you up to a higher caliber of potential employees from which to choose.

If you implement these concepts, you’ll have employees that are more:

  • Focused
  • Dedicated
  • Efficient
  • Motivated
  • Satisfied
  • Confident
  • Connected
  • Engaged
  • Committed
  • Ethical
  • Safe
  • Proud

In addition to making it more pleasant to come to work every day, these qualities can translate directly to your bottom line.


Tracy Switzer is the founder and owner of Shelter Works, a company that manufactures custom-engineered fiberglass field equipment shelters for use in the natural gas, water, waste water, telecom, and other utility industries. Tracy is an advocate for creating a positive culture for the 25 employees of Shelter Works; this attitude has resulted in a median tenure there that is 35% higher than the national average.

Last modified on Monday, 11 February 2019
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