December 11, 2013 by Bill Conerly
Over two and a quarter million employees quit their jobs in October, the highest number since 2010. Are your staff members going to sing Johnny Paycheck’s best song, “Take This Job and Shove It?”
With low quit rates the last few years, managers could get away with being poor managers. With the economy improving, however, we’ll learn the wisdom of Warren Buffett’s comment (from a different context): “You only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” You’ll only know which of your managers are discouraging your employees when job opportunities outside your company improve.
Here are 7 vital employee retention strategies:
<strong>1. Track retention.</strong> If you don’t measure it, it won’t improve. If you don’t know which line managers are doing well and which are not, you’ll not know who needs coaching. And if you don’t know where you stand relative to your industry, then you’re probably one of the worst.
<strong>2. Train first level supervisors.</strong> I don’t claim to be an HR expert, but good supervisors are crucial to retention. Steve Miranda, who is an expert, says, “Employees don’t quite jobs. They quit managers.” That’s an overstatement, but not by much. Top on the list of best practices is regular meetings with employees about performance and expectations.
<strong>3. Hire right in the first place.</strong> Too many employment interviews are about personality: whether the job candidate matches the manager’s personality. Focus more on job skills and you’ll get a better fit, which is more likely to lead to a long employment tenure.
<strong>4. Offer employees a path to greater pay</strong>, recognition and responsibility. Not everyone can rise to CEO, but every employee can build skills. Find a way to recognize those skill and challenge employees to gain even more skills. That makes not only a better employee, but one who feels a sense of accomplishment and success.
<strong>5. Look for ways to increase flexibility in work conditions.</strong> Can you accommodate non-work responsibilities and desires of your employees? Overly rigid work rules can drive good workers away.
<strong>6. Look for stressors,</strong> and train leaders on how to help employees in stressful positions.
<strong>7. Re-evaluate your benefits package.</strong> This isn’t to say that benefits need to be increased, but that the package should meet the needs of those employees most likely to leave the company. All too often, very senior managers think about what is important to them, not the 30-somethings who are considering changing jobs.
What’s not on the list? Salary. Sometimes you need to adjust total pay, but companies usually spend too much time thinking about pay and not enough time thinking about the other issues that make employees feel good or bad about their jobs.