Do You Have a (Cost-Effective) Plan in Place to Retain Top Talent?

488688109Talent retention seems simple: hire qualified people, treat them well, pay them fairly and they’ll stay for life, right? Not in today’s employment market. Today we are facing record low unemployment rates and workers with multiple options for employment.

Turnover costs time, money, and other resources. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), research suggests that replacement costs can reach as high as 50% to 60% of an employee’s annual salary, with total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90% to 200% of annual salary.

Actively working to retain top talent is the answer, yet according to a recent study, only 53% of organizations have a talent management initiative in place. An employee retention plan does not need to be extensive or expensive.

10 Low-Cost Employee Retention Strategies

Retention goes beyond competitive salaries and benefits. There are a number of strategies you can implement today for little to no cost.

1.Hire the right people. Retaining your workforce begins with hiring the right people. To reduce turnover risks, seek people who are interested in developing their careers and are a good fit within your company culture. Identify five to 10 key personality characteristics and skills of your top performing long-term employees and seek similar traits as you add to your team.

  1. Provide opportunities for learning and development. Train new employees well and continue to provide ongoing personal and professional development opportunities. Identify your emerging leaders and focus your development initiatives on them. Provide experiences they would not otherwise have, such as interaction with senior leaders or a learning project where they are asked to resolve a real-life business problem. Employees benefit by expanding their skills and you benefit by gaining a productive, skilled workforce. It’s a win-win!
  2. Provide a career development plan. Employees are more likely to stay if they have a long-term vision of their role within the company. Provide new employees with a well-defined career path so they understand what it will take to progress through the company. Have your managers meet with employees on a regular basis to discuss the trajectory of their careers and how your company can help them grow and advance. This conversation will also help you identify training needs. Highlight employees who have been promoted within your organization and share their stories.
  3. Invest in your management team. People often don’t quit on their jobs, they quit on their boss. Check in with your management team often and provide ongoing leadership training to ensure that your employees have managers who are professional, fair, and good communicators. Promote employees to management roles, not only because they do a good job, but because they have demonstrated an ability to lead people.
  4. Open lines of communication. Build trust by being transparent in decisions related to rewards, recognition, and employee development. Maintain an open door policy so that your employees feel comfortable voicing their opinions and ideas. Likewise, check in with them from time to time to provide your feedback. Implementing your employees’ ideas will create a sense of ownership and responsibility.
  5. Create passion for your brand. Identify employees who are your culture and brand champions and have them share their stories via internal communications and social media sites. There is influence in story-telling — so let their stories be heard!
  6. Recognize their efforts. Ask each employee how they prefer to be recognized. In many cases, a simple “thank you” goes a long way. This is especially true when employees are praised in front of their peers. Appreciated employees are loyal, hardworking employees.
  7. Make work meaningful. People want to be a part of something that has significance not only to themselves, but also their communities. This is especially true for millennials. Help employees see how their work positively impacts the team, department, organization, and society at large. Create meaningful experiences by backing a cause and providing ways for your team to contribute. For example, schedule time for employees to volunteer at your local food shelf.
  8. Provide work/life balance. To achieve high levels of employee satisfaction, you need to recognize the overlap between life and work. If possible, provide flexible work arrangements so that your employees can take care of their personal and family needs and put their full attention to their work while on the job.
  9. Conduct “stay interviews.” A stay interview is an informal review in which the manager and staff member sit down to review progress, ideas, and feedback. It allows you to learn what really matters to your top talent. Stay interviews boost engagement and reduce the likelihood of turnover. If a star employee has an issue, wouldn’t you prefer to have a chance to fix it before they give you their two week’s notice?
    Stay Interview Questions:
  • What keeps you here? What would entice you to leave?
  • What is the type of impact you are looking to have while working here? Do you feel as though you are making a difference in the organization and beyond? Are we fully utilizing your talents?
  • Are you receiving the regular feedback you need to do your job well? Do you feel as though you are being fairly recognized for your contributions?
  • What specifically would you want to change about your current role if given the chance? How do you want to widen your professional horizons?

Employee retention does not need to be complicated or costly. To keep turnover rates low and your workforce happy, motivated, and productive, it really comes down to this: value your employees and — most importantly — let them know they’re valued.

MORE: Attracting and retaining talent in a booming shale market

Teri Calderon

Teri Calderon
Teri Calderon is SVP of human resources for Atterro.

Teri Calderon

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