By Cheryl Rose
During a time when the unemployment rate is at an all-time low, employers find themselves struggling to hire and keep good employees. Turnover is expensive and the cost of losing employees can be devastating to a company.
Due to the current job market, 85 percent of human resources leaders consider employee retention to be a high priority for at least the next five years. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 3 million employees have left their jobs voluntarily every month since June 2017.
As a human resources/staffing consultant, combined with a background in loss prevention for over 20 years, I have had a front-row seat to both employers defending their hiring practices and employees justifying their reasons for leaving companies. Loyal employees are a commodity in today’s workforce and we find ourselves living in a world of continuous improvement to survive supply and demand to meet our customers’ needs.
In this article, I want to focus on employers and some best practices for retaining employees. For easy reference, I’ve chosen to use the word RETAIN as an acrostic device.
R – Respect
Everyone deserves to be respected without “earning” it. If you are like most employers, you may have been “burned” many times by employees who never show up or leave shortly after they’ve been trained. You often feel like respect has to be earned, but if you feel this way it will not serve you well. Respect should be freely given immediately and unconditionally to all employees. Remember, they are human beings with circumstances and real-life situations that might require accommodation and/or some personal understanding from you. Get to know your employees and what makes them tick. Relate to them professionally and personally. Also, make sure they are being treated fairly by your supervisory staff. Employees will not stay where they are treated poorly or disrespected.
E – Expect
Employees need to know what you expect from them and what the consequences are if they don’t meet your expectations. Through your orientation and onboarding processes make it a point to provide clarity of your policies and procedures with no misunderstandings. What time should they come to work? What should they wear? How long is their break? Can they carry their cell phone? If the answers to these questions are not provided, employees will make assumptions and/or establish their own rules, and the workplace will become chaotic and unmanageable.
T – Train
Train, train, and retrain. I can’t say enough about the importance of training employees. In a study of over 1,000 employees, 31 percent reported having quit a job within the first six months because they were not adequately trained to perform their duties. Employees are not comfortable when they do not understand how to perform a task well. A good training program builds confidence and makes it more likely for an employee to stay in a position. It also decreases the risk of employee accidents and product waste, which can prove very costly to an employer.
A – Appreciate
Appreciate employees by paying a fair wage and recognizing a job well done. Employees are more likely to stay with a company where they feel valued. Paying a fair wage is one way of showing appreciation and understanding an employee’s need to support themselves and/or their families. Statistics show that 81 percent of employees would consider leaving their current role for a better offer. Also, employees want feedback on how they are performing. Make sure you have established measuring tools and give timely performance reviews to provide adequate feedback.
I – Inclusion
Employees want to feel like they play a role in some decision-making processes. Most people remain loyal to a cause when they feel a sense of ownership. Think of issues like work uniforms, employee safety, or workplace organization, where employees could benefit from offering feedback. Communication and keeping an open dialogue with employees is crucial to retention. If you interact with your employees on a daily basis, you will understand their needs and know better how to help attain them.
N – Nurture
Nurture a healthy culture and work environment. Nothing will drive an employee away faster than a poor working environment. Is your building safe and clean? Are your bathrooms and breakrooms in good condition and clean? Do employees feel welcome and cared for? Ask your employees how their environment can be improved, they will tell you. Once informed, quickly take action. Your employees will appreciate your sense of urgency and feel that you truly care.
These are just a few recommendations to help retain employees. I know it’s tough out there, but unfortunately, if you have the attitude that “it’s your way or the highway,” trust me, it will be the highway for most employees and you will continue traveling down the road of demoralizing employee retention.
If you can take the time to Respect them, give clear Expectations, provide effective Training, Appreciate and Include them while Nurturing and caring about their environment, I promise it will be beneficial and provide you with a much better chance of retaining employees within your company.