Voluntary turnover hasn’t been much of an issue in the past year as employees hunkered down in their current jobs to ride out the recession. But with the economy and job market slowly turning around, some experts say companies may face a “tsunami” of defections just as they’re trying to take advantage of the economic recovery. How can companies retain and engage their best employees? I led a roundtable discussion on this topic at this past weekend’s PRSA Counselors Academy Conference in Asheville, N.C. Here’s what my colleagues, who are senior leaders at PR firms nationwide, mentioned as their key pain points:
Defining and determining opportunities for advancement for staff within the organization
Finding ways to hold leaders accountable for the professional growth of their team members
Managing, mentoring and engaging “millennials” or Generation Y staff (generally those born after about 1980)
Maintaining a positive, consistent culture, especially in times of change
As part of our discussion, I shared five employee retention best practices to consider for combating any impending talent drain and addressing these areas of concern:
Define clear roles and career paths. Employees need to understand what they’re expected to do and what they can do to continue growing. In particular, millennials need new challenges and ongoing feedback. That’s why it’s important to not only conduct annual performance reviews but also regular one-on-one “check-ins” to discuss progress, priorities and specific goals for employees to reach the next level in your organization.
Measure satisfaction. Determine what your employees want and need to feel engaged and motivated to do their best. It’s probably not all about money! You can consider an annual employee satisfaction survey and informal feedback mechanisms, with results openly shared and acted upon.
Get your employees off the sidelines and into the game. Employees need to experience and feel a sense of ownership in the success of the organization. A starting point: Help them understand the business goals, vision and values so they know how to contribute and what’s in it for them. Then, seek their ideas and use regular face-to-face meetings to reiterate organizational goals and progress.
Upgrade or create a reward and recognition program that’s meaningful for employees. No one size fits all – and smaller rewards given more often go a long way toward motivating employees. Any recognition program should complement your culture with elements such as peer-to-peer recognition opportunities and team building activities. Let employees lead these programs to get them more involved.
Ask questions – and listen. While regular surveys can gauge satisfaction, it’s also important for supervisors to be asking questions and taking appropriate actions. Questions to consider: What would make your work more satisfying? What ideas do you have for improving our department or company? How can I better support you?
Of course, these are also building blocks to help your organization build a reputation as an employer of choice to not only retain employees but tackle another challenge: attracting the best talent.