You’ve hired an amazing team. Now, the goal is to implement employee retention strategies so you can keep your team in the long term.
Retaining good employees is incredibly difficult as these top performers have many choices and options.
Here is our best advice on how to retain talent in any organization.9 strategies for keeping the key players in your team Click To Tweet
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Employee retention best practices
With new startups popping up daily and a talent shortage, it’s more important than ever to retain the employees that your company hires. Here are our top nine tips on ways to retain employees.
1. Conduct stay interviews
Companies often perform exit interviews to learn why employees are leaving.
While this may work to prevent future employees from leaving, it’s too late for that employee. Why not catch the problem before the employee wants to leave?
The Wall Street Journal suggests conducting stay interviews to make sure employees are happy and don’t want to leave. Ask questions like:
- Why did you want to work here?
- What makes you stay?
- What would make you leave the company?
- What would you change or improve in the company?
Use the answers you receive to improve your employee retention strategies.
2. Make employee development a priority
Employee development goes hand-in-hand with employee retention because all employees have their own goals and aspirations.
They may want to learn a new skill, get better at what they’re doing, or develop their careers. Ask about what they aspire to do, and dig deep to find out how you can help. Ask questions like:
- What are your goals?
- What do you want to achieve?
- What skills do you want to develop?
- How can I help you get there?
You can help by providing some form of tuition reimbursement, a free book program, or mentorship.
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3. Create a culture of open communication
Be open about your goals and issues when speaking to employees.
This shows that you trust them and creates a collaborative environment, giving them the opportunity to offer ideas and ask questions.
An “open-door policy” doesn’t work when there’s no door to speak of, so encourage employees to speak candidly with you.If you're part of a remote team, you should learn to communicate ridiculously well. Click To Tweet
If you happen to run a remote team, while it’s important to create a culture of open communication, you and your employees should also learn to communicate ridiculously well through email, chat, and webcam.
Having good communication structures in place helps remote employee retention because it gives them an avenue to connect with whoever they need to in order to be successful at their jobs.
4. Set clear expectations
Continuing with clear and open communication, make sure employees know exactly what you expect of them. If they don’t know what their job entails and what you want to see from them, they can’t perform up to your standards, and morale may decrease.23% of respondents said that receiving clear guidelines about responsibilities would have helped them stay at the company Click To Tweet
The best time to set clear expectations is during your onboarding process.
5. Have a strong onboarding process in place
Edmond Lau, ex-Quora engineer, previously explained that a bad onboarding process could cost you a potentially great employee.
A strong onboarding process is key to keeping your top employees. The most important aspects are:
- Create a 30-, 60-, and 90-day plan. This makes your expectations clear on goals for the next three months so you’re both on the same page from the start.
- Create a new hire checklist. This includes accounts they should make, documents to read, and people to meet. The checklist accomplishes two things: 1) It gives them things to do right away and 2) helps them integrate and learn the company information and processes.
- Have at least three projects ready for them to take on. This will keep your new hires busy and give them an idea of what type of projects they’ll be executing.
6. Offer rewards and incentives
Rewards and incentives are one way to demonstrate appreciation for employees who meet or exceed expectations.
Depending on the size of your company, you may offer stock options or bonuses, or something more simple like a nice dinner on the company.
However, don’t restrict yourself to monetary incentives.
Rewards should also speak to employees’ emotional needs. Examples include recognition in front of the company (or via a company-wide email), clothing with the company logo, handwritten notes, thoughtful gifts, and so on.
These all contribute to the positive culture of the company, increase remote employee retention, and build morale much more than a simple, short-term monetary bonus.
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7. Be flexible with work hours
A series of interviews conducted by Helene Jones, director of human resources at a medical communications company, exposed the importance of a flexible schedule and personal time off.
The reasoning for this is simple: sometimes employees need to change up their schedule or take an impromptu day off to tend to things like doctor’s appointments or family matters. The autonomy of letting an employee determine their schedule is a crucial item to retaining your A-players.Allowing employees to determine their schedule is crucial for retaining your A-players. Click To Tweet
While you may have high expectations for employee productivity, it’s unreasonable to expect your team members to work during specific times (set by you) at 100 percent efficiency.
A-players know when they’re most productive and can admit when they aren’t being productive.
By allowing employees to relax when they need to and create their own schedule, they can increase productivity and happiness.
8. Make time for small talk
While it may seem counterintuitive to waste time on small talk, these conversations allow you to get to know employees as complete people rather than just someone who works for you.
This humanization of the employer-employee relationship allows a unique form of loyalty to develop. It’s better to work with someone who treats you like a friend than someone who treats you as their workhorse.
9. Provide regular feedback
Phil Haack, engineering manager at GitHub, recalls a conversation with an employee who said, “I spent a lot of the six months hoping I didn’t get fired.”
That’s not something you want to hear from an employee.
It’s tough for remote employees to get the constant feedback that comes with day-to-day in-person interactions in an office. This makes it even more important to provide regular informal feedback in addition to formal evaluations so your remote employees don’t feel disconnected.
Regular feedback outside of formal evaluations lets employees know where they stand, gets everyone on the same page, and removes the chances of a surprise during formal reviews.
The phrase that sums this all up is: make employee happiness a big deal.Want to keep your A-player employees? Make employee happiness a big deal. Click To Tweet
If you think about your employees as humans with needs and treat them as such, you’ll be able to create a better working environment for your best employees and keep them on your team.
These employee retention strategies will help you demonstrate that you trust and care about your employees, empowering them to continue doing their best work.
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If you enjoy this post, you may want to check out this e-book on how to manage your remote workforce.
This post was originally published December 7, 2015, and updated May 2019.