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how to keep your best employees

How to Keep Good Employees

Past generations of workers looked forward to many decades at one employer, then celebrating their retirement with a pension and a gold watch. But just as careers have changed, so have the employment patterns of today’s workers. With fewer people staying at their job for very long, how can companies make sure that their top talent doesn’t leave?

Why is it Hard to Keep Good Employees These Days?

It’s easy to blame trends in employment on generational perceptions. With 43 percent of millennials and 61 percent of Gen Z employees admitting that they would leave their job within two years, you may be tempted to assume that job-hopping is a problem of younger workers.

As these younger workers spend more time in the workplace, however, these attitudes are becoming more mainstream. To keep your company culture focused on retaining the best talent, it’s smart to embrace the shifting nature of the workplace and assess what you can do to make your workplace more rewarding to those who may stick around.

Why Long-Term Employees Matter

Not only is it beneficial for your company culture to have a team of employees who have been there through thick and thin, but it can also save you money to hold on to your best. Employee turnover costs can easily eat away at profits, especially as hiring and training costs continue to rise. To ensure that you’re not overspending on new hires and their development, look at the ways you can retain the great workers you already have.

How to Keep Your Best Employees

There’s no one solution for hiring teams who want to keep on more seasoned workers. It takes a measured approach with a variety of methods to make it all come together. However, all of these tactics can help you in your goal of keeping employees on your staff. The best outcomes are possible for those who embrace a bit of each and make adjustments over time.

Hire the Right People

Starting with good talent is the best way to keep good talent. Make sure your job descriptions match up to the skills and abilities you really want in a new hire. As soon as you start experiencing gaps in what you ask for and who applies, reassess those descriptions.

Use interview tactics that work well for your industry, and don’t hesitate to embrace structured interviews, unstructured interviews, or a mix of both. Branch out beyond the same job boards as well, and ask your best employees to refer people they know will align with the company culture and contribute to the team’s success.

Offer Them Great Perks

Ask your employees what benefits are important to them. Never assume that something is a great benefit simply because it’s trending. Would your workers rather have more flexible time off? Is health insurance the main pull? Frequently solicit input on what employees want to see in a benefits package and work to try to meet it where it’s feasible.

Manage Well

Employees overwhelmingly dislike being micromanaged, so avoid putting leaders in place who rely too much on this outdated and stressful practice. Entrust your employees to do work that they can be proud of and that naturally equips them to take on bigger and more complicated tasks. Communicate that you trust your employees to do their jobs, and reward them accordingly.

Create Opportunities

Does your company have a leadership development program? Does it reward education and certification? The more you approve efforts to learn more and do better, the more your workers will take the initiative to grow. If you can’t put together a formal mentorship program, consider how you can work with professional and post-secondary programs to get your employees trained and certified in the skills they need to be the leaders of the future. Tuition reimbursement is also a popular perk.

Build a Great Working Environment

What makes a place “great” to work at? The answer will vary by the worker, but if your hiring practices are up to date, you should be onboarding people that fit well into your culture.

That’s just the beginning of the process, because the tough part of making a great working environment is keeping it. First, ensure that you have addressed both state and federal regulations regarding reporting, personnel compliance, and discriminatory hiring and management practices. Stay on top of complaints about harassment, gossip, or unhealthy work-life balance, and never assume that things will just work themselves out. 

Once any toxic work problems are identified, they should be handled expeditiously by your human resources team. The best workers won’t stay in a place where they feel unwelcome or unsafe, so get ahead of problems by including your policies clearly in employee onboarding materials and the handbook. Then, follow through as issues arise to ensure everyone is treated respectfully and fairly. Seek help from your legal teams if you are unsure how to craft your policies to match industry regulations. 

Establish Two-Way Feedback

Employees do their best when they know what is expected of them. If you haven’t clearly established work requirements and company cultural norms, do that first. Then, take time to communicate respectfully and clearly what these expectations are.

Soliciting and listening to feedback from workers is also essential. Take care to gather information and then put valid suggestions into place. And if not, at least document the suggestions so they’re respected. Go beyond a comment box or survey and instead host regular sit-downs with teams to improve employee engagement.

Pay Attention to Exit Interviews

Unfortunately, it’s common for employers to be unaware of an issue until an employee leaves, which is why exit interviews are essential to improving a work environment. You may not be able to do anything about the worker with a foot out the door, but if you listen carefully to what they say, you can use the interview as a valuable learning experience. It can also be a way to get at the heart of what’s ruining your workplace culture.

Never assume that a dissatisfied worker is an anomaly or an exception. It’s more likely that unhappiness isn’t being reported, especially by good workers who don’t want to cause trouble and are just biding their time until something better comes along. Never ignore what you learn in an exit interview, and commit to tackling any and all grievances in a professional and balanced manner.

Did you know that your hiring data may point to answers for employee retention? Learn how an applicant tracking system like Comeet can be used well past the point of hire.

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Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith

Adrienne Smith is a content strategy consultant working with high-growth businesses on their brand messaging, content strategy, and content creation. A digital nomad, she's exploring the world's cultures and cuisines as she works.

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