July 9, 2019 by Kari Viglasky

Eight tips to retain employees

Retaining employees is the most important challenge facing companies today. For one, the birth rate is declining in North America. On average, Canadian families are having 1.2 children per couple versus 4.6 back in the ’60s. As a result, the population is aging and we don’t have enough young, skilled employees to fill all the positions available. Millennials make up the largest demographic in our workforce – and this group is getting larger as baby boomers retire – but they only stay with a company for an average of two and a half years.

Given the challenges involved in recruiting new employees, it is essential companies find ways to retain employees for as long as possible. If you are an old-fashioned employer who wants people to work on your terms, don’t be surprised if your business suffers as a result. However, if you get serious about solving your retention problem, you will have happier employees and no need to worry about recruitment because all of your positions will remain filled. With that in mind, here are eight tips to help companies retain employees and keep their future recruitment needs to a minimum.

1. Take a closer look at the competition

It’s the competition that’s stealing your people, so you need to find out what they are offering that makes them more desirable than your company. Their strategies may seem mysterious or top secret, but they are almost always public knowledge, as companies like to highlight their successes with retention and recruitment.

2. Do a cultural assessment

As an employer, it’s important to find out what your employees want and what keeps them at your company. A cultural assessment is a great way to find out if their needs are being met. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. What is wrong with your work culture? What is causing people to leave? If used wisely, the knowledge you gather will make a world of difference.

3. Put your knowledge to good use

Many people don’t even want to fill out assessments or surveys because they believe the results will just sit on a CEO’s desk. In many cases, that is what happens, but there are proactive alternatives. Put together teams to act on your survey results. For example, if someone says they want more social events, hand this task back to them to create a social committee and invite them to come up with some ideas.

4. Value your employees

Employees often express they feel neglected by upper management. If your employees feel like nobodies, they will go somewhere where they are valued and have a greater sense of purpose. This is particularly important to millennials. They need to know why they’re doing a particular job and how they’re contributing. They also value social responsibility. What is your company doing for the community? If you devote some time and effort to social initiatives, you will help your employees find a reason to be passionate about their company and their job.

5. Tear down the walls

Some companies have also moved away from using traditional offices in their workspace. They tear down the walls, allowing employees to work wherever they want. If you want to come in and work, you can. If you want to stay home, you can. If you want to sit on a yoga ball on the 19th floor, you can. At any time, you could be sitting beside the president, the CEO or a member of the board of directors because nobody has an office. When we don’t offer flexible working options and people get isolated at their desk for most of the day, we risk losing them to more creative companies.

6. Let your employees work from home

In a recent survey, 57 per cent of Canadians said they would leave their current job and accept a new one if offered the chance to work from home one day a week. As an added bonus, allowing employees even greater freedom has the potential to save companies a great deal of money. Why pay millions of dollars for buildings, furniture, hydro and commuting? With a cellphone and a laptop, anyone can work from anywhere.

7. Give your employees what they want

In a quick survey I did recently, 90 per cent of the people polled wanted more flexible work hours. Others wanted additional training, more frequent performance feedback, more group events and recognition of their service – all of which are simple and inexpensive to implement. The alternative is to spend tens of thousands of dollars on recruitment and talent acquisition that might not be successful.

8. Recognize service

People are only at a job for an average of two and a half years, so it’s important to recognize long-term employees. When someone celebrates a significant anniversary with a company, this milestone is often overlooked, but it should be celebrated. If we want dedication, loyalty and service from our employees, we need to reward those who exhibit these traits.