Hiring employees is just a start to creating a strong work force. Next, you have to keep them, this is where employee retention strategies come in handy. High employee turnover costs business owners time and productivity which then leads to increased business costs. The year of 2017 ended with unemployment 3.6 percent, and it is the lowest average for many years. Everything suggests that in 2018, this value will remain at a similar level. Therefore, the transformation of the employer’s market to the employee’s market has already happened. How should an employer react to such changes in order to retain their loyal and hard-working employees?

Whilst offering attractive salaries is a key factor in retaining staff, this is not what every staff member is looking for. The largest generation of employees are Millennials that will be forming 75% of the workplace by 2025. This should not be shocking considering Millennials are quickly becoming the most influential population in our market today as they are graduating from college and reaching their peak employment years. These Millennials are entering the workforce and they are bringing with them a new perception of what office life should be like and how relationships between employers and employees should be structured. Taking your time to understand your people is crucial to making sure you’re putting together an effective employee retention strategy that works for everyone.

Here are 4 major, often overlooked areas, that help retain all generations of employees

1.Strategic Narrative

It’s a common refrain in executive suites these days: “We need a new narrative”.

It’s not enough any more to say “we make widgets”. With changes happening so quickly from so many directions – competition, regulation, technology, talent, customer behaviour – it’s easy for one’s story to become generic or outdated.

You want a story that inspires employees, excites partners, attracts customers, and engages influencers. A story that is concise but comprehensive. Specific but with room to grow. One that defines the company’s vision, communicates the strategy, and embodies the culture.

The natural step is to give the assignment to an agency. Most branding firms will come back with a tagline and positioning statement. Most advertising agencies with creative treatments and marketing campaigns. Most PR firms with messaging and communication plans. These are useful tactics but aren’t the kind of strategic narrative you are looking for.

A strategic narrative is a special kind of story. It says who you are as a company. Where you’ve been, where you are, and where you are going. How you believe value is created and what you value in relationships. It explains why you exist and what makes you unique.

This doesn’t come out of the usual competitive landscape, customer interviews, and whiteboard sessions. It takes a different approach and a shift in thinking led by the leadership team.

2. Engaging Managers

What does an employee want from their manager? To be mates? Or for him/her to give clear objectives, to discuss with the employee what they want done and how. Is the employee happy to be taken for granted? Or do they want the opportunity to think for themselves and for their achievements to be recognised and rewarded? Are they content to do the same thing year in year out? Or do they want their manager to support them in their learning and development and give them more stretching work?

Do you do these things for your staff? It’s what they want. If you don’t believe me, why not ask them?

Engaging managers make employees feel part of the team. Engaging managers give clear SMART objectives and show how an employee’s work contributes to the organisation’s objectives. Engaging managers coach and stretch and bring the best out of each employee.

Engaging managers give regular, thoughtful, honest and constructive feedback on performance. Managers get the behaviours they are prepared to walk past. Engaging managers do not walk past dysfunctional behaviour. They tackle it by giving feedback in the context of overall performance in a way that encourages and empowers an individual to build on their strengths and help to address behaviours that are getting in the way of great performance.

Engaging managers thank employees for their work. They put considerable effort into making sure the successes and achievements of individuals and teams are fully acknowledged. They create a culture of praise and acknowledgement and are approachable and available when needed. Engaging managers take time to get to know each and every person in their team, they discuss professional and career development at regular points during the year, and offer support in achieving goals. An engaging manager looks out for welfare, is discreet and can be trusted.

After reading the above, how do you and your managers need to change? Do you need a mentor or coach to help you? ThinkTalent is a local HR solution company that has been helping local businesses improve processes and knowledge in these key areas.

3. Your employees’ voice matters

Employee voice exists where everyone in the organisation feels they can have a say and that their voice is heard and listened to, and their views taken into account when decisions are being discussed that affect them.

Many organisations in recent years have built LEAN and Continuous Improvement principles into the way they work, so that their people are empowered to redesign and simplify work processes to cut out waste and improve customer service and the customer experience. Re-engineering business processes through employee driven innovation has helped many organisations cut costs, grow their business, and respond to increasing customer demand, while others who have not applied these principles, no longer exist.

Often employees’ voice is the cheapest smoke alarm you can ever install in an organisation. Things often go wrong in organisations; the issue is whether you catch them before they build up to a major crisis and do significant or lasting damage.

4. Organisational Integrity

Fed up with working somewhere where we are always being promised things – a review of how shifts are organised, or pay, a new fridge in the kitchen, better IT – but they never happen, and no one says why!

Or fed up of always being told that ‘how’ you work is as important as what you do, yet though the organisation’s values are written in fancy letters on the wall in reception, they don’t seem to apply to the top of the office, and your manager gets away with not behaving as s/he is asking you to.

Trust is fundamental to high performance in a team, and high engagement in an organisation. Organisational integrity builds trust. This takes time. It can be hard work. Organisational integrity has to be role modelled not just by senior leaders, but managers throughout the organisation. It needs to enforced by holding managers to account. It needs to be reinforced by recognition and reward schemes. It can be thrown away by an error of judgement. It can be redeemed by an acknowledgement and an apology. Trust is fundamental. In organisations where there are low levels of trust everything takes forever and there is never enough resource because lots of time is wasted as people keeping back, wondering what the real motives are behind any request, and constantly seconding guess each other.

So whilst offering the fancy team events, fat-Fridays, gym memberships, healthcare, in-house recreational events are fantastic ideas to attract new staff and promote team-oriented workplaces, there are some basic management approaches that can engage and most importantly retain employees quicker and at a lower cost.

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