Employee retention

Aug 30, 2020

It comes down to respect and providing for your employees. If you do these two things, your people will quickly become your biggest cheerleaders.

Many firms like to boast, “It’s the people that make our company,” but how often do we really check in with them one-on-one or recognize them for a job well done? The day-to-day grind of pushing out emails, visiting job sites, and getting invoices paid can quickly put us into a spiral of “just getting it done” without giving much thought to the well-being of our staff and colleagues.

When it comes to improving employee retention, consider the following:

  • Check in often. Some people may not have the gumption to approach their superior with a question or concern on their own. But, if you are proactive in checking in with your staff on a regular basis, this provides an opportunity for them to open up. Use an approach that makes them feel comfortable, and make it known that their opinions matter. Tip: Conduct “stay” interviews. A “stay” interview is an informal discussion between an employee and their superior and/or HR to understand what the company could be doing better from the employee’s perspective. These interviews should be done separately, but in addition to a yearly performance review.
  • Recognize your employees in front of their peers. It’s important that we recognize our employees for their unique talents and contributions to the company. This recognition should not only be one-on-one, but also in front of their peers. Peer-to-peer recognition not only drives motivation, but builds a culture of camaraderie and support among teammates. Ideas for employee recognition:
    • Recognize employees who go above and beyond via annual awards.
    • Give bonuses for referrals, certifications and licensures, serving on an industry board, etc.
    • Distribute firm-wide emails recognizing specific individuals for a job well done.
    • Spotlight an employee via your internal newsletter.
    • Celebrate big wins and recognize those who made it happen via a verbal announcement or on the company intranet.
    • Recognize employee milestones, whether it be with a card, a cake, or a plaque on the wall.
  • Have some fun and be flexible. We all know that corporate culture is an important piece of the pie when it comes to employee retention, and an all-work no-play environment can put a damper on morale. Keep spirits high by incorporating a little fun into the workday. You may feel like you’re losing valuable, chargeable time, but giving your employees permission to “check out” for a few hours will only benefit you in the end. Ideas for building a fun and relaxed work environment:
    • Create a “fun” area. In other words, create a space in your office that complements what fun means to your employees. Does it include a TV, a ping pong table, comfy chairs, a bar with beer taps? The list could go on. No matter, create a space where your employees can convene for parties and celebrations that is away from their desks and working environment.
    • Celebrate holidays. Whether it be dressing up at Halloween, giving your employees a sweet treat on Valentine's Day, or sharing your favorite dishes at Thanksgiving, make sure you are leaving room for activities that encourage your staff to come together for non-work activities.
    • Be flexible. Here in the South, college sports can be a big deal. Give employees the opportunity to watch their favorite team during March Madness or treat them to pizza during the Thursday night football game. Sports aside, be flexible with your team so they may have time to do the things they enjoy outside of work.
  • Build trust and respect. Perhaps the most important attribute to employee retention is earning their trust and showing them respect. If you do not have a sense of trust with and among your employees, you are doomed from the start. Building a culture of open and honest communication will evoke this trust mentality. Ideas for developing a culture built on trust and respect:
    • It’s important that you do not hold your employees on a tight leash and give them opportunities that illustrate they can be trusted and valued as an employee. If an employee cannot be trusted, don’t worry, it will become apparent.
    • Don’t reprimand your employees for trivial mistakes, as it could lead to detrimental mistakes.
      • Example: Let’s say a junior employee loses a specific tool while on the job and is hesitant to tell their supervisor, because they think it may cost them their job. So, they compromise by using another tool that can get the job done, albeit it is not standard procedure. Because the employee did not make their supervisor aware of the situation upfront, and an inappropriate tool was used, your company could face serious consequences if the structure or design proves to be faulty.
    • Create an “open-door” environment that fosters growth. When your employees feel comfortable coming to you with feedback or expressing a concern it is all for the betterment of the company. Employees that don’t feel seen or heard within the organization will leave – it’s only a matter of time.

In a nutshell, employee retention all comes down to respect and providing for your employees. They will quickly become your biggest cheerleaders!

Kim Fowler, CPSM is the marketing manager at Falcon Engineering, Inc. She can be reached at kfowler@falconengineers.com.

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