Keeping stellar employees: Tips for employee retention

In a down economy, companies can’t afford to waste any resources. After going through the process of finding, hiring and training the right employee for a position, it’s critical to take steps to keep that employee. Otherwise, dissatisfied employees may quit soon after being hired, leaving the company in the position of having to spend the time and money to go through the hiring process all over again. Here are some steps companies can follow to improve employee retention.

1. Implement thorough onboarding

An employee’s first few weeks on the job set the stage for the rest of his tenure with the company, so companies should pay careful attention to the onboarding process. New employees should interact with a wide range of people in the company, including senior staff members, so they feel valued as they start their job. It’s also helpful to have clear job descriptions and communicate to ensure employees know what’s expected of them. This reduces confusion and helps ease the transition into a productive and enjoyable position.

2. Choose online systems

Employees love having the freedom to track their pay and benefits online rather than having to visit or call the HR department every time they have a question. Make use of systems that integrate all of these functions into an online portal for employees to maintain at their convenience. Automated payroll is especially helpful because employees don’t have to deal with the hassle of depositing paper checks and can view their pay stubs electronically, rather than having to keep track of half-sheets of paper. Employees who can easily see what they’re getting from the company are more likely to stick around.

3. Improve employee morale

Happy employees are much more likely to stick around at a company, so employers can take several steps to improve morale at the workplace. For example, recognizing and awarding employees for a job well done encourages them to keep working hard. Kicking back for fun events every once in a while, like celebratory lunches or holiday parties, makes people feel like their workplace isn’t always a drag. On a smaller scale, bosses should encourage employees to take breaks regularly during the day.

4. Interview or survey employees

Most companies already conduct exit interviews to learn why people are leaving the company. Asking questions of employees who aren’t leaving can often turn up even more helpful information because employees mention the reasons they’re staying, not the reasons they’re leaving. Implementing programs that encourage employees to stay puts a positive spin on the process and may even be more effective in the long run. In-person interviews with long-time employees are especially helpful, but anonymous surveys can also be effective.

5. Pay employees well

One of the surest ways to lose an employee is to underpay him. In addition to offering competitive starting pay and annual raises that match the cost of living increase and any additional responsibilities the employee has taken on, companies should also offer room for advancement. Employees will gain skills during their time on the job and they often want to move into more challenging positions with better pay. Offering bonuses for work well done also helps keep employees satisfied with their jobs.

Although some turnover is healthy — employees who aren’t a good fit have the chance to move on to something different — companies should generally focus on ways to encourage employees to stay. Create a positive work environment and give employees perks to make them feel valued. Happy employees are also more likely to recruit their acquaintances and friends who would be a good fit, which also contributes to hiring and retaining great employees.