A major priority for many Human Resources (HR) teams? Employee retention.
When a company faces frequent employee turnover, it has a negative effect on the business in multiple ways.
- A former employee could be taking valuable knowledge, expertise, and experience to a competitor and is no longer contributing to your products and services.
- You now need to spend valuable time recruiting for new employees, hunting out new hires in a still-tough job market.
- The onboarding process for new employees is likely expensive and takes a lot of time.
- The whole time you’re doing this process, you don’t have an important role filled in your company, which can be a burden on your other employees.
If you’re able to hang onto your employees longer, you won’t face these challenges. Your business will run much more smoothly and you’ll be able to focus on your products and services, not constantly trying to fill roles. But that can be a tricky task. These days, employees are sticking around their employers for less and less time. Job hopping has become much more of a norm than it was decades ago. Companies can no longer expect years and years of loyalty from their employees.
Or can they?
While focusing on recruitment strategies is always great for HR teams, focusing on retention can have just as much of an impact on your business. Consider pivoting to retention as a key strategy in 2024 in order to hold onto employees longer and ditch the constant rat race of head hunting.
Here are some simple ways you can foster loyalty within your company, this year and beyond.
Be an Active Listener
You probably consider your team to be great listeners when it comes to employees’ needs. But are you active listeners?
- Ask questions when they don’t understand what someone is telling them.
- Repeat back what they’ve heard to make sure they got it correct.
- Seek out opportunities to listen instead of waiting for conversations to be started.
- Use open, positive body language and a calm, patient tone of voice.
- Don’t interrupt, bulldoze, or assume you know more than the person you’re listening to.
- Respect what employees are saying, even if your perspective or experience differs.
- Ignore distractions and focus on the person in front of them, not their own mile-long to-do list.
Employees want to feel heard by their employer, and that can take more than a simple employee survey or quick form filled out at the end of the year. Take some time to meet with each employee and check in on how their work experience has been. Make in-person time a priority, too—Zoom calls are great in our modern world, but if someone’s in the office regularly, sharing a pot of coffee and a physical space can work wonders in terms of relationship building.
Respond and Follow Up
When you wrap up a meeting with an employee, what are your next steps? Many times, HR meetings can be forgotten about the minute they’re over. An employee voices their concerns, states their needs, and…leaves, never to be followed up with. If someone feels like they’re constantly voicing concerns but those concerns aren’t being responded to, they might seek a new work environment.
Make sure you’re setting goals and putting into place action plans with your employees about issues they care about. If an employee wants to see a wellness program started, how are you going to look into that and take next steps? If an employee is reporting a ton of conflict with a boss, what are some things you can do to ease the tension and help keep the peace? Action steps demonstrate to employees that you aren’t just giving lip service and talking the talk. You’re walking the walk and truly putting in an effort to make their work environment a positive place to be.
Be The Same Person Behind Closed Doors
One of the most meaningful ways to cultivate loyalty among your employees is simply to be the same person behind closed doors that you are in meetings. HR departments deal with a lot of interpersonal issues, making it an opportunity to either excel in virtue or crumble into chaos. You can be the kind of workplace where employees know they can go to HR with any concerns, or you can be the kind of workplace where employees avoid the HR department at all cost.
If you’re telling your employees something is confidential, don’t tell other colleagues. If you’re making promises, ensure that they’re kept. If you’re saying you empathize with someone, actually take the time to try and empathize. HR departments that try to bait-and-switch depending on which employee is in their office will foster an environment of competition, gossip, and interpersonal conflict—not one of harmony or loyalty.
Keep It In Perspective
Focusing on retention will be a net positive for your business. But also, employees are going to leave. Sometimes this has nothing to do with your company: maybe they’re family is facing a move, maybe they want to switch careers, or maybe they’re facing a medical emergency that makes them no longer compatible for your work requirements. Perhaps they’ve been given a golden opportunity elsewhere that they agonized over taking and it had nothing to do with your business. Try not to take things too personally and understand that even the most loyal employees will sometimes find themselves at odds with their job.
Furthermore, as much as certain companies like to embrace this messaging, your workplace isn’t actually your family. Employees needing to quit are making a business decision that they believe is right for them. Companies that overemphasize retention or turn to panic when employees leave can give off cultish vibes that aren’t healthy for anyone. Adults need to make decisions for themselves, and they will (and should!) have higher loyalties than your company. Understand that this is just business—and someone just as terrific might walk through the door any day.
Claire Swinarski is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.