These 10 retention tips are based on leading practice developed through research and our own experiences at Amplify HR. But they are your employees. It is really important to understand what your people want. And the way to do that is to set up listening mechanisms.
Sometimes I hear from business leaders that say, ‘Well, I have an open-door policy, anybody can come to me.’ But that’s not enough, because people aren’t always comfortable making the approach. Instead, we should have structured listening mechanisms:
- Staff satisfaction engagement surveys Conducted at least yearly.
- Monthly one-on-ones between managers and team members These are not just weekly work meetings, they are focused on how the employee is feeling, including challenges or barriers.
- Quarterly review process These are looking at performance, but also at development. You should be looking at what the employee is missing from the workplace, or what they are enjoying in the workplace so you can make sure you’re leveraging the best experience for them.
- Roundtables (aka skip-level meetings) Depending on the size of your organisation, you may have meetings where employees meet with their manager’s manager. This is a really valuable way to learn things like:
- Why do people work here?
- Why do they leave?
- Why do they stay?
- What are we doing well?
- What aren’t we doing well?
‘Sometimes I hear from business leaders that say, “Well, I have an open-door policy, anybody can come to me.” But that’s not enough.’
There’s nothing more valuable than listening to what people say about why they work in your business, what they do and do not like. There’s no research in the world, and no seminar that you can attend that is going to give you these answers about your own business. It’s really important to set up listening mechanisms in your workplace.
3. Be Clear on Culture
When you’re listening to your employees, you can also use the information you gain to give you a picture of your culture, including what it is now, and what you want it to be. If you’re not intentional with your culture, it can really slide into dysfunction without you noticing. You may have experienced this before if you have hired someone in the past who was ‘a really bad hire’ and infected the entire organisation for a long time.
Culture is a slippery slope sometimes and it is not set-and-forget. You need to think about what you want your culture to be. You need to think beyond, ‘we want to have a great culture’; everybody says that. But what are the components of the culture you want to have? And what are the components that you have right now?
These might be things like:
A word of warning on performance culture, though. This is overused, and for many employees, when you say ‘performance-driven’, they hear ‘sweatshop’. They think ‘that’s an organisation that’s going to grind me into the ground’.
‘for many employees, when you say “performance-driven”, they hear “sweatshop”.’
Think about the words you want to use to define your culture. This is important because these become the lens you use to retain people. You may have your purpose, your mission and your values, and you may say, these define our culture. But who are the people that meet those cultural expectations, and what kinds of people do we need to hire to fit into this type of culture?
Once you can express what your culture is, you can state it clearly, in your job ads and interviews. It then becomes a magnet to people that thrive in your kind of culture, and a filter for those that don’t.
4. Develop Your Managers
I’ve very deliberately used the word ‘managers’ here, not ‘leaders’. We’ll get to leaders, but first, we need to look at managers. Research from Gallup shows that managers can account for up to 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. In other words, people do not leave their jobs, they leave their managers. Managers play a vital role in organisations and they have a massive impact on your workplace culture.
When you have managers in your business, you must make sure that you are investing in their ongoing development as managers. They must have the basics right, including how to:
- manage leave
- employ people under the right conditions
- manage performance
- have difficult conversations.
Once you have those basics, then you can start the leadership training. If you’re going straight into leadership training, and you’re not doing manager training, you are missing a huge opportunity.