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Employee Retention Strategies

What can you do to curb turnover?

As an employer, it's critical to know if your employees are voicing concerns about the firm or their place in it. The following tips and tools can help alleviate or prevent many of the factors that lead to employee discontent:

  1. Proactively talk to your staff, in a nonjudgmental way, formally and informally. Don't expect employees to volunteer their concerns. If you have been surprised by turnover in the past, chances are good that communication had broken down somewhere along the line.
  2. Try giving your employees more autonomy and see how they do. You might be surprised. The amount of guidance and structure you provide must vary with each employee, but you'll never know how employees will perform until you give them a chance. You might end up with more time to plan and make proactive changes, thereby reducing the number of fire drills.
  3. Assess yourself as a leader, coach and mentor as opposed to a boss. Do some of the complaints about management style apply to you? Remember to treat your employees as if they have a choice in where they work, because they do.
  4. Become more confident of your own role and its importance. If you are insecure in your own job or abilities, you may adopt damaging behaviors such as criticizing in public, not delegating enough and taking credit for your employees' work.
  5. Mix it up! Most people love variety and challenge. If the organization isn't growing, work to provide your staff with variety in project assignments and even lateral movement. An added benefit is the cross training that will occur naturally as a result.
  6. Assess workloads. Understaffing sounds like a cost-saver, but the resulting low morale and turnover are actually much more expensive.
  7. Communicate goals, deadlines, results, achievements and internal opportunities. This is especially important during periods of change. Give the employees the big picture and help them understand how they contribute to it. This is critical to motivating and retaining your staff.
  8. Be creative. The companies with the most success in retaining employees avoid being too rigid and inflexible. They find creative ways to address employee concerns while still accomplishing business objectives. For example, reassign clients to even out travel and overtime, use a contract resource to reduce your employees' overtime and routine work, or use job-sharing to help people balance their work and family responsibilities.