Many businesses still have the mindset that anyone is replaceable, no matter their job title or position in the company. It’s true that a business may be able to physically replace someone, but how does a business fill in the gap if some of their best employees leave? I think the answer is simple: they don’t.
A business should do everything they can to keep the individuals who foster success within their company. Don’t fill in positions—it’s too difficult and demands a lot of time. Retaining your valuable employees is something that every company should care about.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, seeing your best employees walk out the door. Although some companies put on a brave face and act unphased when employees leave, there’s no hiding behind the fact that it’s a gutless feeling to watch your valuable employees pack up their desks. Not to mention that your CFO is cringing with her head in her hands—it’s not cheap to develop employees, have them take on industry and specific company knowledge and leave when they are refining their skill set.
We’ve got some tips and tricks that can help a company avoid watching their most qualified individuals walk away. These strategies will help you retain valuable employees, and offer suggestions to build a successful employee retention system.
“Wow this cubicle designed work setting really looks like a blast, I want to work here!” (said no one ever). Not hating on cubicles, but is this really the environment that we want our employees to work in? This picture is depressing, and quite frankly it looks like a prison more than a workplace to me.
Create an environment that your employees want to be in; make the workplace hard to leave. How do you make the workplace hard to leave? Surround your employees in an environment where they can collaborate, grow and be creative. Create spaces where your employees can socialize and get to know one another. Gone is the idea that cubicle walls separating employees promotes productivity—walls discourage communication and collaboration. There are varying schools of thoughts on this, but at Vendasta, we promote an open work space to promote knowledge sharing.
Now I am not going to ramble on talking about synergy, but I am simply stating if a business let’s their workplace turn into a sad painting like the photo above, they won’t keep their employees. If a company is scared to encourage socializing and collaborating, they won’t keep their employees. If they are afraid to transition into the new business world where creativity is encouraged and walls don’t separate office desks, they won’t keep their employees.
- 39% of surveyed employees believe that people in their own organization don’t collaborate enough (Queens University of Charlotte).
- 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures (Salesforce).
- MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that socializing outside of meetings is one of the strongest contributing factors to team success (Harvard Business Review).
Society is changing, young business people are part of a new demographic where leaving is easier than ever. This can be tough for older generations to understand—where did the loyalty go? The loyalty is going to the businesses who care about their employees, and the work environments they develop that encourage collaboration.
Work environment extends beyond work hours. Believe it or not, people actually like staying at Vendasta after work hours. Employees don’t rush home on Fridays to catch their breath and escape the caged in workplace that their body resided in for 40+ hours that week. Employees at Vendasta socialize, grab a beer, play a game of foosball or bring out a board game. It’s funny to some people that we like to stay at work, but isn’t that the way it should be? People spend just as much or more time at work than at home, so it’s essential to make the workplace a space that employees want to be.
A draught beer tap, ping-pong tables, foosball, snacks, commercial sized fridges and social gatherings; does this stuff really work or does it just cost a lot of money? While it isn’t cheap, it works because it promotes socializing and communicating. Vendasta was chosen by Flow Magazine as the number one place to work in Saskatoon. We recently received a SABEX award for growth and expansion, and a business builder award for employee retention. These awards are not only something we take extreme pride in, but they prove that there is method to our madness.
Vendasta has created an environment that people want to be in, surrounding employees with an atmosphere that feels like a second home. If an organization creates a second home environment for their employees and an area to collaborate, they will succeed in retaining valuable employees.
Here’s a tough one, because a company can’t simply pay everyone boatloads of money, even if they wanted to. Employee wages vary across the board, so there is really no generic number figure that works for every company.
Although it’s tough to put a price tag on each employee, there are always employees who put in long hours and hard time for a company. Don’t be afraid to reward these individuals, especially if there is budget to pay more for their hard work.
- Growth is important, promote your best employees: Employees want to grow and take on new roles and responsibilities. Promote your best employees as soon as you possibly can. Promotions often keep employees motivated and driven to continue successful habits.
- Address the elephant in the room: Your best employees likely know their own worth, and sometimes they are too humble to ask for salary adjustments. DO NOT let your best employees become underpaid or mis-paid for their hard work. They will notice and seek out fair compensation elsewhere.
A business must be aware of market or industry wages. A company must pay the minimum market value for wages at the very least, and if it is feasible, more. Businesses who pay minimum standards attract average employees, businesses who want the best will pay the best. Wage becomes a huge factor in contributing to employee retention.
Be flexible and understanding
Understand that employees have busy lives outside of work, and that their whole life does not revolve around their job. A positive work-life balance is something that every company should promote and encourage. Employees want to make time for their families, friends and extracurricular activities, and a good organization usually allows some flexibility so that they can do so. Having employees involved in community initiatives reflects well on your business, so even if your employees need to leave a few minutes early for a board meeting, know that your business is being well-represented outside of office walls.
Vendasta, along with other organizations, allow employees to take a certain amount of flex days each year. A flex day is a day that an employee can spend working remotely, from home or wherever. This gives employees a little more leeway if they need to be somewhere other than work, or simply if they want to work in the comfort of their pajamas and slippers a few days a year.
The business world is no longer strictly nine-to-five, where every minute is spent behind a desk nailed to the floor and a computer glued to a desk. Work stations are movable, flexible and employees should are able to work from environments other than just their desk. While employees may ask for more flexibility during the work day, it’s important to recognize that. With the adoption of smartphones and technology, they likely end up working more after work. Catching up on emails and responding to instant messages late into the night is something many employees do, whether that expectation is set or not. Allowing for some flexibility during the “work day” can help avoid burnout, feelings of entitlement and stress.
Understanding that life happens is very important! Giving employees freedom to adjust their schedules for life, especially when unexpected events come up, is key to promoting a healthy workplace. Whether it’s a doctor’s appointment or a kid’s championship soccer game, a business focused on employee retention understands when employees have to step outside of work briefly.
When an organization doesn’t empower employees to manage their time effectively, office tension can be created. Most employees know their roles and what they should be doing. Of course, you may need to provide the odd reminder, but constant micromanaging is sure to push away employees.
Listen to employees: be proactive, not reactive
Listen to your employees, constantly. It’s not as easy as just asking an employee what went wrong when they’ve expressed interest in leaving a company. Often times, an exit interview is too late to deal with issues. If an employee has approached a company and expressed their intent on leaving, it’s likely a decision they have put heavy consideration into.. It will be harder to change their decision, and they are likely on their way out, whether the business likes it or not. With a reactive approach, a business will lose employees before they identify issues. A proactive approach involves:
- Constant interaction with employees to make sure that they are comfortable voicing their opinion.
- Employees should feel welcome to weigh in, or express how they feel at work. This helps a company progress, grow and improve as a workplace.
- Make employees feel heard. If a company neglects the opinions of employees, then they cannot adapt or improve to meet the needs of those who work for them, and that is when employees start to leave.
- Employees leave companies when their expectations are not being met, and communication is a vital ingredient to ensure expectations set to attainable goals..
It may be time consuming to sit down and talk with every employee in your company, but make sure a system is in place that allows communication of some sort. Although Vendasta is growing rapidly, our executive team still manages to encourage employees to voice their thoughts and opinions. Vendasta uses an extension developed by Officevibe in our Slack messaging app called Leo. Leo is the office vibe bot that asks employees questions weekly, and encourages feedback. The employee is able to choose whether their answers are anonymous or not. Leo the office bot is a great way for larger companies to understand their employees, and gather feedback to improve the workplace. Don’t use Slack messaging? There are other applications that help in understanding employee satisfaction, here are a few:
With applications like these, every person in the company has a voice that is heard, especially in larger organizations. For smaller organizations, it’s best to meet with employees face-to-face, but also allow some sort of anonymous channel for feedback. Getting feedback for how you can improve is vital for building a workplace culture that promotes employee retention.
Last thing: employees want to have a voice but it doesn’t mean anything unless it’s being heard. If organizations are constantly hearing something that bothers their employees, it might be time to implement changes. Employees appreciate when their opinions prompt change in the workplace: this means their voice is being heard. Don’t just give employees a voice: listen to their voice, and make the appropriate adjustments.
Why it’s so important
If a business is constantly experiencing employee turnover, they are at a standstill. There is no improving when you are hiring and training new employees all of the time, a company must have a foundation of dedicated employees who want to be there and who give a s***.
The most successful companies in the world are successful because of their employees and their focus on employee retention. The hard work and dedication of employees who care about their employers are what drive companies into the next level of success.