Staff Retention: Top 10 Tips

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May 14, 2009

The 'job for life' is not a term often used now, but employers need to consider the importance of employee retention as it affects turnover, productivity and the business's long-term success.

Here are some tips to help you keep your staff:

Recruit the right people.  It seems a simple thing, but so many companies stumble by not employing the right person for the job. To ensure you have the best staff write a job description and key performance indicators before advertising the position. Think through the key interview questions and ask each candidate the same ones so you can compare 'apples to apples'. Know the type of person you are looking for, what you want them to do and their employment conditions and you are off to a great start.

Favorable work environment and culture.  Make your workplace flexible and supportive so employees feel comfortable in the environment. After all, they spend a third of their time at work so it pays to make it somewhere your staff want to be. Establish a system where employees can regularly express their opinions and ideas freely - and act on any that are good for the business.

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Training, career development and feedback.  It is very important that employees feel welcomed, wanted and that they are given the chance to succeed in their job. Put together a structured program where new people are brought up to speed quickly and continue it by allowing staff to develop and take on new challenges. Ongoing training means staff can grow over time to move into new positions and increase their value to you. Give your employees regular reviews and support so they know what to aim for both when they are doing well and when they need to improve. Without feedback your staff will perform below standard.

Offer greater work-life initiatives.  These incentives can be both financial and non-financial and include gift vouchers, flexible working hours, holidays and reward days. They should be based on performance and be applied consistently across the board. Work-life initiatives are a great way of showing staff what they are worth to your company.

Continue to educate employees.  Good performance management systems will lead to a professional development plan for each employee. Use a variety of strategies and activities to improve the performance of individuals, which in turn enhances the performance of the team and your company. An effective system makes will help you recognize and reward good performance and to manage under-performance of your staff.

Keep staff informed.  Silence can be your greatest enemy. Regularly update staff on changes within the business and on the company's vision. People like to be associated with a company that is going somewhere. If you tell them about the company's visions, goals and plans they will get excited about them and feel it is worth their while to work with you.

Manage expectations.  Staff need to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. You can't expect your employees to shine when they are not sure what you want. Write down your expectations with a clear, unambiguous basis for measurement.
Market-leading salaries and rewards.  Make your staff see their worth with ongoing, performance-based bonuses and attractive company incentives. Show them how you calculated their salary and reward, based on transparent and logical criteria, so they can see they are paid fairly. Review your staff's salaries at least annually and include the value of any benefits paid or provided so individuals can see the total package they are earning.

Effective staff management.  This is a key issue for business owners. A good management system will help staff achieve their personal and professional goals, and at the same time, promote your business's vision and goals. Of particular importance is managing Generation Y's expectations and wants with their need for instant gratification, quest for constant fun and questions about relevance to them.

Listen and empathize.  Ensure a smooth working environment by regularly talking to your staff and being a good listener. Take advantage of our love of being asked for our opinion and use your employee's tips for the business's advantage. If you don't show an interest in your staff, you are sending the message that you don't care about what they have to say.

About the Author

David Marriott established Constructive Recruitment in 2003. He is a technical and operations recruitment expert with over 15 years experience in recruitment. Constructive Recruitment specializes in recruiting for the construction, infrastructure and resources sectors throughout Australia and overseas.

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