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How To Retain Your Top Employees

Updated: May 14

By: George Waggott, founder and Roberto Fonseca-Velazquez, summer law student, George Waggott Law

Employee retention is no longer an automatic result of hiring loyal employees. Having long term employees of 10+ years seems to be a feature of a bygone era in the workplace. This does not mean that your organization is not a “good” place to work, it simply means that employees are not afraid to look for opportunities elsewhere throughout their careers. This is to be expected as employees grow and their needs or wants for their days spent at work change. Yet, retaining top performers is key to the long-term success of your organization and losing these employees can have a negative impact on the bottom line. Employers who continue to evaluate their retention strategy will have an easier job of keeping those top performers on the payroll. Here are some factors employers can evaluate and improve to retain their top performers.

1. Maintain Clear Expectations

It is important that an employee knows what an employer expects of them. This goes beyond ensuring an employee knows the details of their job description. A lack of clear performance expectations is often cited as a key contributing factor to employees’ happiness or unhappiness at work. Belinda Wee, Ph.D., an associate professor at Husson University's School of Business and Management, said management must communicate, both verbally and in writing, the level of performance they require from each employee in order to receive their desired results. If an employee is aware of what is expected of them, there is a higher chance that employee will succeed in achieving the goals set for them. If an employee is succeeding at work, and therefore happier at work, they are less likely to search for opportunities elsewhere.

2. Recognize Your Performers

It may seem like a no-brainer to reward employees for breaking records or smashing targets, but employers should strive to have a standard set of metrics used to reward top performers across the business. When goals are met, employers should give those responsible the spotlight. Praise employees appropriately throughout the company and ensure there is a way to alert management to the job well done. This can easily be achieved during a meeting, via email, or during a company-wide gathering. Monetary rewards, bonuses, and gifts can make this recognition even more significant. Employees who are recognized for their work are less eager to move to a new organization.

3. Provide Opportunities for Growth

Opportunities for personal development and growth should be present and available for all employees. This can include having a promotion or growth plan for every employee or providing ongoing learning/training programs throughout the organization. To go above and beyond may include meeting with employees individually to determine what skills they would like to continue to develop and to develop a personal growth plan to help them achieve these goals. A lack of additional training or opportunities to learn other areas of the business could have top employees looking for other positions that will provide them with more experience.

4. Offer a Competitive Compensation and Benefits Package

It is now very clear that salary is not the only reason employees will stay or leave a position, but it remains a very important factor. Employees need to feel they are being compensated fairly for the job they are doing and for the job market they are in. Entrepreneur notes that salaries are based on employee skill and experience, supply and demand, geographical location, and worker seniority. Although employers may not be able to offer the top salary compared to competitors, employers should be careful not to undervalue a position and compensate employees fairly. Further, ensuring your organization can offer a comprehensive benefits package can be a significant reason employees stick around. This is especially true for those employees that have a family or dependents. Benefits can include health insurance, life insurance, paid vacation above standard legislation, and tuition reimbursement. As an employer, ensure you revaluate your compensation packages yearly to maintain a competitive offering and retain your top performers.

5. Provide a Comfortable Work Environment and Culture

Employees want to feel comfortable and safe at work. An office environment plays a big role in ensuring employees enjoy coming into work every day and feel that way for 8+ hours a day. Ensuring an office is well-lit, well-ventilated and a comfortable temperature is a good start. An employer also needs to have an office and culture that matches the industry, engages employees, and continuously motivates them. The culture should be authentic and developed by those in the business who have a clear vision of what the organization values and what it aims to achieve. Communicating this vision with employees will lead to participation in the culture and higher employee satisfaction. Employees will be harder pressed to leave an organization in which they feel totally comfortable in and are continuously participating in the culture that aligns this with their career goals.

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