For many firms, the departure of a single, tenured employee can leave big shoes to fill. Advanced skill sets and company knowledge are difficult to replace. How will you retain and re-energise your best employees during a changing economy? Especially one that may offer tempting opportunities for them to jump ship.
Here are our top tips for retaining your key staff.
1. “Re-recruit” Top Performers
You can bet that if you employ a number of talented and experienced professionals, there are plenty of other companies out there that have taken notice. Before your competitors have a chance to woo those workers away, you must “re-recruit” them yourself. This means “selling” them all over again on the advantages of working for your company, highlighting what’s unique and special about it. It’s also a good idea to reiterate how essential they are to the success of the business. Then move on to a discussion of what their future with your firm might look like.
2. Provide Well-Defined Career Paths
While you should avoid making pie-in-the-sky promises, you should be able to help them envision tangible rewards on the horizon – including promotions, salary increases, performance bonuses, company-sponsored training opportunities and profit-sharing. This applies to both junior staff members as well as to those employees who already have considerable tenure. In fact, it is this latter group that may be at a higher risk of leaving, especially if they feel that their careers have stalled at your firm.
In the context of performance reviews, talk to your employees about their aspirations and goals. Using their input as a point of departure, brainstorm ways you might structure job descriptions and positions to accommodate and advance those goals.
3. Foster Skill Building Through Cross-Training
If your company is a small one with limited upward mobility, you may want to offer cross-training as a way to help staff develop new skills and stay motivated and interested in their work. Your employees will value opportunities to gain exposure to roles and projects not necessarily in their job descriptions or current competency areas.
The benefit for your company is that you will have a more versatile group of employees with a better understanding of how all the separate parts (their individual responsibilities) come together to make the whole (a successful, profitable business). You can complement a cross-training program with outside training tailored to individual employees’ developmental needs.
4. Comprehensive Mentoring Programs
In addition to traditional one-on-one mentoring relationships, consider setting up groups of mentors from various areas of the company who will focus on high-potential employees. Each group will meet regularly to brainstorm ways to help a specific top performer build on key strengths and achieve professional goals.
5. Explore Flexible Work Arrangements
A strategy best reserved for top performers, flexible work options can help you retain valued employees who might otherwise be tempted to leave. While some employers are wary of non-traditional arrangements, it is possible to set up mutually-beneficial situations. The key is to tailor the alternative arrangement – whether telecommuting, flex-time or compressed schedule – to the individual employee. It’s also more likely to work if you hold employees accountable for integrating their flexible arrangements into the overall schedule of the company.
6. Improve and Adjust Compensation
Money isn’t everything, but it still holds considerable importance for most employees. Periodically review your salary and benefits structure to ensure that you are offering competitive wages and the types of benefits that are most valued by today’s workers. To ensure that all workers are fairly compensated, you may have to make adjustments in the salaries and benefits of your most experienced staff members before you modify starting or junior-level salaries.
7. Keep in Touch with “Alumni”
As you adopt new retention strategies and programs, you may find yourself wishing you’d done it sooner, so that you could have held onto valued former employees. But remember that in today’s job market, “good-bye” doesn’t mean forever. Nowadays, workers may transition in and out of employment over the course of their careers. Why not broaden the idea of retention to include them? Instead of forgetting about workers who have left your company, maintain contact and call these alumni when you have suitable openings. You may catch them “on the rebound” and re-gain a valuable (and now more experienced) employee.