How to retain employees

Written by: the Officevibe Content Team
Updated on: Published on: June 17, 2014 |  Reading time: 5m

You need to always be mindful of retaining your employees. The ideal scenario, is that your team sticks with you forever, and is a strong, unified group of people working towards the same goal.

There are many different things you can do to retain your employees, and I’ll try and run through a pretty comprehensive list, but at the end of the day it’s really about creating an environment that people want to be in.

That way, there’s no real reason for them to leave.

It’s pretty competitive out there, and lots of companies are trying ways to attract the best talent to them, so you need to be able to keep up.

I understand that money and other perks are extrinsic motivators, and don’t really engage employees long term, but they’re important.

The truth is, combining extrinsic and intrinsic motivators is the real secret to employee engagement.

You need to be paying a very competitive salary, and things like full insurance and 401k plans should be standard.

Then things like a relatively flat hierarchy, letting employees have a voice and decide what they work on, will create an atmosphere that not only keeps employees around, but attracts new ones.

I have no data to back this up, but I would bet that if you ask some of the top companies how they recruit top talent, a large portion of them will say employee referrals.

Smart people know other smart people, and if you have a great place to work, then it only makes sense that they would recommend it to their friends.

Let’s go through a few of the ways of how to retain employees.

1. Offer a competitive package

Like I mentioned, one of the most important things to do to retain employees is to pay a competitive rate.

Gone are the days where you can pay below market price, in the hopes that employees don’t fully know what it’s like out there.

Besides networking with other people in the industry, there are plenty of websites that show what employees should be earning.

As an employer, you should use those websites too (like Payscale) to figure out what you should be paying. If you’re smart, you’ll go a bit above market rate.

2. Provide opportunity for growth

In Dan Pink’s book Drive, he talks about what actually motivates people; Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

Keeping your employees motivated is a great way to retain them. I’ll talk about all 3, but this one serves the need for Mastery.

Employees want to get better at whatever they do, but it’s important that you approach this the right way. I’ve written before about the concept of flow, but basically that is when you get your best results.

The short definition of flow, is finding that sweet spot when you’re working on a task that’s not too difficult, and not too hard.

Dan Pink calls this a Goldilocks task.

If an employee’s skills are not fully utilized, they’ll get bored and eventually want to leave the company, trust me.

3. Make employees feel like they’re changing the world

Another motivator that Dan Pink talks about is purpose. Employees need to feel like what they’re doing matters.

The way to do this, is to change the way employees look at their job.

In the book Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage they talk about how giving employees that sense of purpose leads to more fulfilling, and greater work.

The easiest way to do this as an employer is to start with a mission statement. A good example is Starbucks:

Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.

4. Let employees decide what to work on

The final motivator that Dan Pink talks about is autonomy.

Employees need to feel as if they have ownership over what they are doing, which will end up making them more engaged, and feel more responsible and accountable for their work.

Letting employees decide what they work on shows an incredible amount of respect, and your employees will appreciate it.

5. Conduct a stay interview

This is something that’s often overlooked, but it’s such a smart idea. First, let me explain what an exit interview is.

An exit interview is when an employee is leaving the company, you meet with them and ask them why they’re leaving.

You try and find out as much as you can before they go, so that you can improve the way things work for future employees.

A stay interview is similar, except you’re not waiting until the employee quits. Take an employee into a conference room, and ask them questions like: Why did you start to work here? Why did you stay? What would make you leave? What about your managers? What would you change or improve?

This information is so valuable.

6. Let employees recognize each other

Organizations that give regular thanks to their employees far outperform those that don’t.

Based on the research, they found that employees prefer to receive recognition from their peers versus upper management, which in a way makes sense, because your colleagues know what you do much more than upper management, so their feedback is more real.

7. Invest in employee’s health

Healthy workers are more productive, and will cost you less money in lost productivity, so it’s a win-win for the company. This is why you should invest in employee wellness.

You’ll also be showing them that you care enough about their health to want them to be in good shape, which is a nice gesture in itself.

You can also do things like walking meetings to make mundane activities more healthy.

What do you do to retain employees?

Retaining employees is a long term thing, something that needs to be worked at constantly to really get it right.

You want to create an amazing environment that encourages people to stay.

Officevibe’s employee engagement software is the perfect solution for understanding how your team actually feels.

What do you do to retain your employees? Let me know your thoughts on twitter @Officevibe.