A 5-minute Guide on Employee Retention

Companies should be applying Customer Success logic to keep their employees.
A 5-minute Guide on Employee Retention
Jono Harris

A big part of Customer Success is Customer Retention. In order to ensure that you keep your customers happy, you have various dashboards in place that monitor usage, engagement and overall happiness of the product or service that your company offers.

So, this got me thinking, could companies not apply this same logic to keeping their employees? The truth is your employees are only bums in seats if you don’t invest time and energy into the relationship, which will then turn them into productive members of the company.

As Tarun Mitra so elegantly put it, “If you invest in growth before you have retention, you are renting users, not acquiring them.”

Replacing an employee can cost 16% — 150% of their annual salary depending on their role. While increasing employee engagement can increase a company’s operating income by 19%! (Check the stats)

With figures like that, it’s a no brainer that a little more time, effort and budget should be put into an engagement and retention strategy.

Here’s how you can start improving your employee retention strategy today, or at least get you thinking about implementing one:

1) Employee Engagement and Retention starts with Leadership

As the age-old saying goes, “Employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” This is half true. While managers have a definitive impact in employee experience, senior leadership has an even greater part to play.

These days, employee engagement is considered a “business imperative at all levels,” according to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report, as more organisations realise the impact that an engaged workforce can have on the bottom line.

“Employee retention and engagement will never be higher than your leader,” says Christopher Mulligan, the co-founder and CEO of consulting firm TalentKeepers, “Everyone is an employee within the organisation, from a frontline employee to the CEO. And we have to be concerned with the engagement at all levels.”

Many leaders don’t consider that they might impede employee engagement, however. The first step to getting leaders engaged in their teams is to show them the influence that they have.

Great place to start ▶ Run Pulse surveys to show the impact the leaders have on employee engagement. Ask questions around company culture and general sentiment. Apart from gathering feedback during 1-on-1’s, sending out bi-yearly or quarterly surveys will enable employees to give anonymous feedback. This way you’ll be able to gauge employee happiness and satisfaction with their leaders.

2) Listen to employee feedback, and act on it

Engaged leaders are effective communicators and listeners who can build trust among their employees — and, as we know, trust is the cornerstone of employee retention.

It doesn’t help to get employees to fill out surveys and give feedback when the same questions are getting asked and the same answers are being given time and time again. 🙄

Great place to start ▶ After collecting feedback for some time from at least 50% of your company, visualise the (anonymous) survey results and share with the whole company. Involve everyone with brainstorming an action plan, and then act on it.

3) Give frequent feedback and recognition

“The purpose of criticism is to help others improve. The purpose of praise is to help others know what they need to keep doing more of.” — Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor

Praise and recognition are not about tooting your employee’s horn 📯 and stroking their ego, but it is a way to let them know when they’re doing a great job and to keep on doing it.

The same goes with constructive feedback. Feedback should not be used to break an employee down and degrade them. It is there to show them the right path and give them ways to do better.

Recent research shows that company culture is directly tied to recognition:

Research with over 800 employees

Great place to start ▶ Have a recognition initiative in place and reward employees who receive & give recognition that is in line with the organisation’s values. Rewards don’t have to be monetary — an hour or two off on a Friday, or even getting the CEO’s parking bay for a day, will go down really well!

Feedback should also be given on the regular. Don’t wait for a bi-yearly or annual performance review. This is way too late to address any pitfalls. Feedback should be given, at a very minimum, once a month, if it can happen weekly, that is even better.

4) Invest in Employee Growth

When looking at the reasons people leave their jobs, money is often not the main motivator. If you want to keep your people — especially your star performers — it’s time to pay more attention to how you design their work. Most companies design jobs and then slot people into them.

Getting this right might mean that you are rotating these employees out of roles they seem to be excelling in, but ultimately, you’ll be moving them into or creating a role that their strengths are more suited to.

Another big reason employees leave a job is a lack of career advancement opportunities. If you find that the majority of your employee churn is happening within the first 12-months of a new employee’s tenure, then it may be time to look at creating more “in-role growth opportunities” so that advancement can happen quicker.

Great place to start ▶ Try stratifying entry-level positions into a multi-layered structure. This way, employees can advance by a level every six months or so, rather than having to wait two to three years. Pay raises and new titles do not necessarily need to accompany each role level.

5) Dig deep with exit interviews

Start your exit interviews by finding out why or how the employee started their journey with your company in the first place, instead of just focussing on why they are leaving. Follow this up with ‘Did we meet your expectations?’ and ‘What was the experience we delivered for you?’

Great place to start ▶ Consider asking the exiting employee to fill out an exit survey before you have a final interview with them. This way you have something constructive to discuss when you meet, ensuring a more productive final meeting.

To keep employees, why not look at adding a ‘Stay Interview’ into your employee retention toolbox?

These “stay interviews” involve discussions with employees to explore and understand why they want to work for your company and what it takes to keep them.

While the above steps are not a guaranteed recipe for employee retention success, you should start seeing more positive engagements with your employees once these have been in play for a little while.

The very worst that could happen is that you get shown some really hard truths about the current state of your company’s employee happiness and loyalty, which will suck but potentially save your company!

And if you’re not able to implement all the suggestions immediately, I’d recommend prioritising Step 3) Give frequent feedback and recognition.

Keeping your best employees starts with your company culture.

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