Today’s post was written by Madeline Peterson, an account executive at a technology company in San Francisco.
Attracting a hard-working, knowledgeable, and ethical workforce is no easy task. If your company and HR department can pull it off, kudos to you, but getting a good employee to sign a contract is only as good as your ability to keep a hold of them through thick and thin. After all, hiring is the first step. To get the most from your top talent, you need to retain them.
Unless you’re Google, keeping your top talent happy enough to stick with your organization can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. The reasons your best employees sometimes feel the grass is greener elsewhere is because the grass is actually greener elsewhere. Freud wrote: “Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness,” and in business, learning how to better motivate, reward and satisfy employees will keep them grounded, happy — and working for you.
Managers, Here are 4 Ways to Hold On to Your Top Talent
1. Be Fair
Providing employees with a fair and just environment is important, but according to researcher and industrial and organizational psychologist Deborah Rubb, providing them with one that they perceive as fair — both to the group as a whole and the individual — is more so. Test your policies’ fairness by placing yourself in your employees’ shoes and then asking yourself if the decision you’re about to make would feel fair if roles were reversed.
If you run a restaurant, do you always give the best section to the same employee? If you have a sales team that works on commission, do you make sure the best leads are given to the employee responsible for generating them? Do you pay the employees who have been working for you the longest on par with new hires? Running a business isn’t an exact science, but if you want to keep valuable employees around, make sure they feel your company provides them — and their co-workers — with a level playing field.
2. Be Challenging
Very few people enjoy a day without challenges, and it’s almost a guarantee your best employees will hate a day without some problems to solve. If you want to keep a hold of your top talent, you need to provide them with opportunities to flex their muscles.
According to a study undertaken by the Stanford Graduate School of Business, intellectually challenging work is more important than money or location. Many jobs involve a certain amount of unavoidable busywork. Give employees you hope to keep around projects requiring creativity, extra effort, and higher standards. Not only will this ensure your valuable employees understand their value to you, but it will also help weed out anyone who would rather be doing busywork.
3. Reward Financially
Top talent demands top dollar. If you want to keep a good employee from going to work for a competitor, ponying up some dough is essential. It would be nice if your hires felt a rush of loyalty for your organization regularly, but loyalty should cut both ways. Thus, you need to prove how much you value your best workers. Paying them well is a primary way, but it shouldn’t stop there.
Do you provide good health insurance with low co-pays? How about a retirement savings plan? If you can’t pay an employee what they’re worth, offer time incentives. For most people, time is money, too. Offering flextime and telecommuting options can give you an advantage over a competitor with more financially driven incentives.
4. Constantly Communicate
Constant communication between management and staff may seem impractical, but the idea needs to be in place and in practice. Hold regular meetings where employees can offer ideas, express concerns and ask questions. Open-door policies will also encourage employees to talk with management before problems or worries get out of hand.
Instead of “exit” interviews, use “stay” interviews, where managers and employees can honestly discuss the things going well — and poorly — in the organization. It’s also essential expectations are communicated properly with staff. For many workers, knowing what is expected of them is half the battle. If your employees are continually frustrated because what you want from them is under the radar or shifting, the chances are pretty good they’re looking for another job.
If you want to retain top talent, make sure they are treated well. A fair and equitable working environment, competitive pay, good communication and plenty of challenges will keep your best people busy, satisfied, and working for you.
Classy Career Girl readers, which of these four keys is most important to you in staying happy at work and not leaving? What is the worst thing a manager could do that would have you bolting out the door?