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Be a Best Company – Four Employee Retention Strategies

“My boss is a jerk and my career is going nowhere in this organization, but there’s yoga and a pool table, so I think I’ll stay,” said no employee ever.

Employees enjoy concierge service, free lunch, ping pong, and social events at work, but these perks don’t improve retention or performance. The only perks known to improve employee loyalty and commitment is time off and a flexible schedule.  Everything else is nice to have, but does not impact career decisions.

Organizational leaders and managers have been led down a path of expensive distractions disguised as employee retention strategies. Eliminate the noise and focus on the four things that really matter to employees, and your best people will stay.

This is what’s important to your employees:

  • I trust the leaders who run this organization.
  • My opinion means something.  I am listened to.
  • I feel respected (by my manager) and have good relationships in the organization.
  • My work is challenging and interesting.

So what should you do if you want to be a best place to work? 

Here are Four Employee Retention Strategies Managers Can Take:

1.   Meet one-on-one with employees and have meaningful discussions about his/her performance and career goals.

2.  Ask employees for their opinion and demonstrate that you’ve heard them.

3.  Provide opportunities for employees to do work they enjoy.

4.  Ensure employees who want to advance in your organization are learning and growing.

Read about our Be a Great Place to Work leadership training program that eliminates the noise and teaches the things leaders and managers really need to do to retain the best employees.


Be a Best Company – Four Employee Retention Strategies

I could give you a list of fifty employee retention strategies you could follow to improve employee performance, engagement and retention. But the truth is, there are really just four things you must do. Employees may appreciate the other 46 things but don’t necessarily need them to stay with your organization and do their best work.Ways to retain employees

The Colorado Society of Human Resource Management hosts an annual Best Companies competition, and organizations of all sizes compete. Last year I led a workshop before the awards ceremony. The purpose of the workshop was to share the things that make an organization a great place to work. While researching the program, the things that separate the great companies from the less desirable places to work became very clear. I’ll share those employee retention strategies here.

Employees ask themselves these questions at work:

  • Do I trust the leaders of this organization?
  • Does my opinion/voice matter in this organization?
  • Do I have a good relationship with my manager?
  • Is my manager invested in helping me advance my career?

Employees enjoy yoga, concierge service, espresso, and social events at work, but these perks don’t necessarily improve retention or performance. The only perk known to improve employee loyalty and commitment is a flexible schedule.  Everything else is nice to have, but not essential.

This is what’s really important to your employees:

  • I trust the leaders who run this organization.
  • My opinion means something.  I am listened to.
  • I feel respected (by my manager) and have good relationships in the organization.
  • My work is challenging and interesting.

So what should you do if you want to be a best place to work? 

Four Employee Retention Strategies Leaders Can Use to Create Relationships with Employees at All Levels:

1.  Know employees’ names, talents & career goals.

2. Be visible. Talk to employees.

3.  Give more information than you think you need to. Employees want to know how your organization is performing.

  • Hold town hall meetings. Give financial updates.
  • Use ‘Ask the CEO’ boxes to encourage questions and feedback.
  • Encourage senior leaders to conduct small, roundtable discussions with employees at all levels.

4.  Align leaders’ words and actions.

  • Organizational guidelines are applied consistently among all employees.
  • Don’t gossip or chuck other leaders under the bus.
  • Be consistent. Don’t say, “The CEO says this, but we’re going to do this instead.”

Four Employee Retention Strategies Managers Can Take:

1.   Meet one-on-one with employees and have meaningful discussions about employees’ performance and career goals.

2.  Ask employees for their opinion and demonstrate that you’ve heard them.

3.  Provide opportunities for employees to do work they enjoy.

4.  Ensure employees who want to advance in your organization are learning and growing.

Read about our Be a Great Place to Work leadership training program designed for Senior Leaders and HR Professionals.


Set Expectations That Are Clear and Manage People Well

Set ExpectationsGiving negative feedback is hard. Asking for what you want will always be easier.

Set Expectations That Are Clear

We have all worked hard on a project, only to find out that what we created is not what our manager was expecting. When this happens, everyone is frustrated. Managers question whether or not employees listen. Employees wonder why managers who want something specific didn’t just say so when the work was assigned.

Managers would be well served by setting clear expectations at the beginning of working relationships and projects. Tell your employees what a good job looks like. Don’t make them guess.

If you want a weekly status update, tell employees that rather than being frustrated when you don’t know where projects stand. If you want a bulleted summary, tell people that rather than being annoyed when five paragraphs land in your inbox. If you envision a report with tables and charts, tell employees that versus being disappointed when they create a bulleted list.

Most of us assume people will do things the way we do. They won’t. Save time and reduce frustration by being crystal clear when you set expectations at the beginning of anything new.

When people see the title of my book How to Say Anything to Anyone, they think it’s a book about giving feedback and having difficult conversations. It’s not. How to Say Anything to Anyone is about asking more questions, so you know what your direct supervisor, coworkers, and customers need and don’t have to guess. How to Say Anything to Anyone is not about giving people bad news. It is about asking for what you want before challenges occur, and then talking about how you’ll deal with challenges when they arise.

If you work for someone who does not set expectations that are clear, then you, the employee, needs to set those expectations.

Set expectations by asking your manager:

• When do you want to see this, in what format, with how much detail?
• What does a good job look like?
• What’s your expectation of how this should look when it’s complete?
• Where does this fit, as a priority, in relation to other projects?
• How does this project fit into the department’s or organization’s goals?

Asking questions and telling people what you want is always easier than giving negative feedback. Everyone – employees and managers alike – are accountable for ensuring that the set expectations are clear and that work is done right the first time Ask more. Assume less.

Download the five questions managers must ask their employees to set expectations that are clear:ManagingQ


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