Employee Retention: Tips to Make Your Staff Happier

January 6, 2020
WHERK Blog: Employee retention

There’s a common belief that employees leave jobs because they want more money. In our heads, we often think of these emotionally charged decisions in the way that they’re portrayed in pop culture. We picture scenes that involve the ironfisted boss rebuffing the underdog employee’s request for a modest raise. The reality is far less dramatic. In fact, only about 12% of employees leave their jobs over money, but nearly 80% exit because they don’t feel appreciated. To put it bluntly, people quit bosses, not companies. Respectful, inclusive, and collaborative working environments go a long way to improving your overall retention and employee productivity.

With resources thin and time tight, it can be easy for small business owners to let employee relations slide to the backburner. However, a happy employee is a productive employee, and the companies that treat staff with respect and admiration are the beneficiaries.

People quit bosses, not companies.

Encourage diversity of thought

We all have experienced different situations that influenced us in unique ways. Why not take advantage of that variety by giving everyone a chance to weigh in? Encouraging diversity of thought means you’re open to ideas or suggestions from even the unlikeliest of sources.

For example, the cashier at your store may have spent time handling inventory at a previous job. If you only accept feedback from employees about their current roles, you very well could miss the next great idea. Not only can the diversity of thought increase the prospect of your business succeeding, but contributing makes your employees feel valued.

Related: Three ways to set up your office for success and employee satisfaction

Values lead to retention

For a lot of small businesses, there’s value in being a good community partner.

It’s a given that your company is in business to make money, but it still needs a foundation built on values and a mission to serve as the roadmap. If you aren’t doing everything you can to get employees to buy into the values and mission, you’re missing a golden opportunity. People want to feel good about what they do for a living, and few things make people feel better than helping someone.

Make sure you are exposing your employees to things that serve as reinforcements for the values and mission. For instance, you can post testimonials in the breakroom so that employees can read the kind words written by customers. If a customer specifically mentions an employee for going above and beyond, reward that employee with recognition in front of their peers. Write them a handwritten thank you for representing the business the right way.

For a lot of small businesses, there’s value in being a good community partner. Invite your employees to join you for volunteer work at a local non-profit or holiday toy drive that benefits the town you work in. As a leader, if you set that tone, your employees are likely to follow.

Organize team-building activities

Some of the best ways for your employees to get to know each other (and you) are outside of the office or the construct of day-to-day responsibilities. Consider having a regular team building activity—perhaps monthly or quarterly—where the staff can let loose and have a little fun. If you’re concerned about cost, these events don’t necessarily have to be high-dollar outings.

Organize a company picnic at a local park and encourage staff to invite their families or celebrate a holiday with a potluck lunch in the break room. Employees will appreciate both the effort and the downtime.

Provide transparency in communication

We’ve already talked about how people want to be heard and appreciated, but another critical piece to employee relations is ensuring they feel aware of what’s going on internally. But the only way to really do that is to be transparent in how you communicate with employees. People will sometimes confuse transparency with divulging everything to employees, but there really is a difference. Transparency means being upfront, honest and authentic. It means when times are tough, you don’t sugarcoat the news and lead people on with falsehoods. And when times are good, you talk about why they’re good and how to keep that momentum. It doesn’t mean you belabor the staff with the minutiae of running the business.

One tactic that works for companies of all sizes is hosting a regular town hall-type event.  Leadership provides a state of the company update. In this session, you should focus on the topics that matter to employees.  Including company performance and how it fared in meeting goals. A town hall is also a great time to recognize employees whose performance was exceptionally good. Candid communication is an excellent way to earn trust among staff.