How much is employee turnover costing you? According to research from Gallup, American companies leave a trillion dollars on the table when they don’t practice methods for employee retention. But what causes team members to leave? When citing reasons for quitting, more than half of exiting employees said their boss could’ve intervened, but did not. In fact, 51% said, “In the three months before they left, neither their manager nor any other leader spoke with them about their job satisfaction or future with the organization.”
Team members are a company’s most valuable asset, which is why it’s important to learn how to stop conflict and job dissatisfaction before it starts. Below, find the top ten employee retention strategies for keeping team members feeling engaged, happy, and supported.
Table of Contents
- Regularly Check For Gaps in Communication
- Provide Feedback and Recognition
- Look for Misalignment Among Managers
- Create Space for Weekly Meetings
- Discuss Expectations
- Review KPIs or OKRs
- Communicate Pivots
- Connect Strategy to Purpose
- Check Morale
- Show Recognition and Appreciation
- Follow Through on Decreasing Turnover
Regularly Check For Gaps in Communication
When it comes to increasing employee retention and lowering turnover, leaders can start by focusing on communication and support. For example, in a report on employee loyalty, TINYpulse®, a feedback-based internal communication tool, found that “high performers rate the level of support they receive at an 8/10, low performers rate it at a 6.8/10.” When business owners and executives spend more time bridging gaps and offering help, team members feel more engaged and happier at work.
Bridge communication issues by:
- Asking an employee questions about what might be causing conflict or underperformance.
- Actively listening and trying to understand a team member’s point of view.
- Working through problem solving and solutions together. For example, maybe an employee needs more training, or they’re experiencing a block in productivity caused by another person.
When leaders open lines of communication, they can solve issues as they occur rather than allowing them to become large-scale problems.
Provide Feedback and Recognition
Having the right approach when providing feedback is a great employee retention strategy. For example, it can make a significant difference in motivation and productivity. Research from Gallup shows employees who receive positive feedback “are 3.9 times more likely to be engaged than employees who felt hurt.”
When giving feedback, first recognize what is positive about the employee. Too much criticism all at once can make people feel withdrawn, upset, and defensive. Rather than showing up for an annual performance review with a long list of grievances, have weekly conversations with employees about places they can adjust or improve. Increasing communication helps team members feel more connected and comfortable with their leaders. As a result, they’re more likely to express problems, concerns, or requests for help.
Look for Misalignment Among Managers
Sometimes dissatisfaction occurs due to communication issues among company leaders. This happens when managerial boundaries aren’t set by CEOs, executives, directors, and managers. As a result, stressed team members are often left figuring out what work takes precedence. It can also be confusing not knowing which lead to follow.
Instead, great leaders assign work based on what will best execute strategic initiatives. Throughout the implementation process, the leadership team should always be in communication before changing plans. Nevertheless, if another manager or executive interferes, meet with them and start collaborating by prioritizing the employee’s responsibilities.
Create Space for Weekly Meetings
Leaders who clear time on their schedule for individual meetings with their employees show them they’re a top priority. Not only does this help foster a stronger team culture by providing one-on-one support, but it also stops problems from festering. For example, this is a great time for discovering the causes of underperformance or disengagement.
During weekly meetings, business owners, executives, and managers can also offer regular mentorship. As people rise within the organization, they need the developmental opportunities a consistent mentor provides. These sessions can boost morale and help a person gain clarity on their responsibilities. Start by carving out 15-30 minutes of talking space with team members each week to discuss goals, growth, and room for improvement.
A common pitfall of leadership is poor communication of expectations. For instance, in an article for Gallup, work-management scientist Jim Harter found only half of employees know what their managers’ expectations are of them. Discussing expectations around goals, roles, and responsibilities with team members is critical because it provides clarity around what a job well done looks like.
Another employee retention strategy is discussing timelines and goals with the leadership team. As experts in their individual fields, they’ll provide more insight into developing realistic expectations for employees. For example, C-suite executives might not understand the intricate details that go into completing a task or project.
Review KPIs or OKRs
Another part of establishing clear goals and expectations is having key performance indicators (KPIs) or objectives and key results (OKRs) in place. This means ensuring any goals set must be measurable and challenging, but attainable. Creating unrealistic goals only sets team members up for failure, frustration, and increased stress.
When reviewing the fairness of goals and expectations, ask yourself:
- Are the timelines set for meeting their goals realistic?
- What is driving these goals and timelines? Fear? Scarcity? Logical reasoning?
- Are there any roadblocks that might keep them from excelling?
- In what ways can they be better supported in meeting these objectives?
If the objectives set regularly require miracles, then the goals are too high. Failing time and time again leads to decreased morale and isn’t conducive to employee retention. Instead, rethink the objectives and develop a more sustainable course of action for team members.
Change can be a frustrating, mentally draining experience for your team if not managed properly. For example, if an employee spent three months putting their heart and soul into a project that was canceled with no explanation, this person might feel confused and upset by the pivot. Take the time to provide clarity and reasoning for shifts that affect the team. As researcher and best-selling author Brené Brown says in Dare To Lead, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”
When shifting gears, also listen to any concerns the employee might have. Additionally, practice empathy by imagining how the other person feels. In doing so, leaders build trusting, safe environments where people can respectfully express how they feel without fear. It becomes difficult to reach a boiling point when leaders and their teams practice this type of communication.
Connect Strategy to Purpose
Employees need to understand why their work matters. In a white paper for IBM Cloud Video, researchers found that 72% of workers don’t comprehend their organization’s strategy. Avoid this mistake by explaining initiatives and company goals in a way that fulfills a collective purpose.
During weekly one-on-one meetings, ask employees what they feel their mission in life is. Find ways to connect the business with the impact they desire to make in the world. Even if the employee is underperforming, work with them, and be patient. Discovering ways to help a person experience breakthroughs in growth is one of the most important leadership qualities in executives.
When working on employee retention strategies, conduct regular morale checks. Whether it’s unresolved conflict, issues with management, or lack of opportunities, low morale contributes to the top reasons why people leave their jobs. Proactively set aside time for playing on the offensive when it comes to gauging how team members are feeling.
During morale checks, discuss:
- What drives the employee to succeed.
- Goals and areas where the employee desires growth and development.
- What team members like about their job.
- How they’re helping fulfill the company’s mission.
- Areas the company could improve.
Keep notes during these conversations. Use positive feedback to understand what makes the employee feel happy and inspired at work. Additionally, be open to constructive criticism provided by team members. This helps leaders formulate better work environments, and, as a result, retain more employees.
Show Recognition and Appreciation
According to an Achievers survey, lack of recognition contributed to 44% of employee turnover. Additionally, 69% of respondents said recognition and rewards are factors that contribute to employee retention. To combat turnover, leaders can use weekly check-ins as a chance for providing appreciation and gratitude. In doing so, business owners and executives can openly communicate gratitude for their team’s hard work.
Expressing gratitude includes:
- Thanking an employee privately.
- Commending an employee in front of the team.
- Adding vacation days.
- Providing a bonus.
- Giving a deserving person a promotion.
- Honoring the ways individual employees want recognition.
Follow Through on Decreasing Turnover
Serving as a business owner, executive or manager means developing an environment where people can attain their full potential. When working to retain employees, be honest about areas that require improvement, but also offer support and show a readiness to help.
Follow through during weekly check-ins by:
- Asking about the fulfillment of goals.
- Recognizing progress and showing appreciation for hard work.
- Imparting words of motivation and inspiration.
- Leaving each meeting by establishing action steps for building momentum.
Remember, employee turnover can result in diminished morale and loss of profitability. Play a proactive game with the employee retention strategies listed. They keep great employees on the team and help struggling employees improve over time through additional support. As a result, this decision potentially saves business owners thousands of dollars worth of losses and strengthens the bonds of the team.
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