Eight Ways to Improve Employee Retention

As the demand for skilled IT professionals continues to outpace supply, hiring managers have increased their focus on recruiting and hiring strategies. To secure the best talent, many companies have adjusted starting salaries and benefits, offered new job perks and streamlined their hiring process.

In the current job market, it’s also important to ensure your employee retention strategies are up-to-date. When skilled talent is at a premium, the risk and cost of turnover increase. In addition to the costs related to hiring, onboarding and training a new staff member, productivity lost while a position is unfilled can be significant. If someone who was well-liked and valued by the organization leaves, there is an added hit to company morale.

If your organization hasn’t evaluated its employee retention efforts lately, now is a good time. Here are a few ideas.

1. Design an onboarding process that wows new employees.

The onboarding process is typically a routine, process-oriented experience designed to get employees assimilated as quickly as possible. There are forms to fill out, processes to learn, and perhaps there’s a standard presentation or some training to attend. By and large, it’s a one-sided conversation that employees endure rather than enjoy.

All this process stuff is necessary, of course, but what if your onboarding program was also used to excite and motivate news employees? How could the conversation be shaped so that employees walk away feeling like a valued team member, instead of a rookie waiting out their probationary period?  Some things you can do to improve the onboarding experience include:

  • Give new employees a welcome gift that says, “we’re glad you’re here.” When a new employee arrives at BravoTech, they find their desk decorated with a helium balloon a new nameplate and  a logo wear shirt for use on casual Fridays.
  • Put together a presentation that celebrates the company’s founders, explains the company’s mission and outlines future plans. Include everything that contributes positively to your company’s culture. The goal is to generate excitement about your company’s “Why” that leaves new hires feeling great about their decision to join your firm.
  • Help your new hires get integrated more quickly by asking a different team member to have lunch with them on each day of their first week.
  • If you have several new hires within a given month, treat them all to an off-site coffee break to alleviate new-job stress and encourage them to make new friends.
  • Within the first two weeks, ask a manager from each division to meet briefly with a new employee so they understand how their job fits in with the company as a whole.
  • Send flowers to employees with family members who are ill or have passed away.

 2. Assign a mentor to every new hire.

Pairing a veteran employee with each new employee can boost productivity and morale for your entire team. New team members have someone they can bring their questions and concerns to as they adjust to their new role. A mentor can impart the lessons they learned as a new employee and prevent small issues, such as dealing with a difficult client, from becoming big ones. Mentors boost the productivity and loyalty of new team members by providing a formal support system.

 3. Recognize and reward.

Everyone wants to feel like their work is being recognized. In addition to formal awards for meeting quotas and reaching goals, managers should make a habit of recognizing their direct reports for going the extra mile. The amount of money you spend on the reward is less important than the fact that you’ve shown your appreciation for hard work. In addition, by communicating rewards in terms of more than just corporate profits – for example how their work helped a client solve a problem or improved employee security – you can help your team feel their work is meaningful. If your company does not have a formal rewards and recognition program, establish one for your department. Impromptu mini-awards can easily be implemented at the department level.

 4. Assign or hire an associate care coordinator.

Managers often have no idea a report is unhappy until they give their notice. An associate care coordinator can help prevent surprises and prevent unnecessary turnover. This person’s role is two-fold: to gain intelligence about individual and overall employee satisfaction, and to implement programs and activities designed to increase engagement and satisfaction. Some activities of an associate care coordinator can include:

  • Conduct periodic employee surveys to identify productivity and satisfaction issues (not related to personnel conflicts).
  • Check-in with employees periodically about their level of satisfaction with their work, their manager and their team.
  • Send birthday cards.
  • Send flowers to employees with family members are ill or have passed away.
  • Celebrate work anniversaries.
  • Plan team-building activities.
  • Orchestrate your recognition and rewards program.

Note: An associate care coordinator can be a part of your human resources department, but they should not be the same person who handles complaints, personnel conflicts and other sensitive matters confidentially.

 5. Support training and development.

In today’s job market, companies that offer to pay for training are better able to attract top IT talent. Once on the job, continued training and development improves retention and increases an employee’s value to your team. When meeting with employees about their career goals, help them plan at least one training or professional development event annually.

 6. Give back as a team.

Giving back to the community is important for businesses in and of itself, but it also improves employee engagement, morale and retention. Participating in a charity walk, toy drive or other charitable activities double as great teambuilding events. Your department can participate in corporate-wide events, but I’d also challenge department managers to come up with additional charitable activities for your team to get involved in throughout the year.

 7. Use onboarding software tools.

There are a variety of affordable onboarding software tools that not only automate new hire paperwork but can help reduce turnover by automating employee care touches on a preset schedule. For example, our system generates a “hire date minus three” email from a top manager that automatically welcomes new associates a few days in advance of their start date.

By gathering feedback from new hires including satisfaction with their work and the effectiveness of their manager and orientation processes, these tools help companies improve the onboarding experience and resolve problems before they result in the loss of a valuable employee. Our tools include emogee-based surveys at various points in the employee’s career soliciting a quick and easy thumbs-up or thumbs-down at that point in time. Negative responses are immediately forwarded to and addressed by the associate care coordinator.

 8. Provide open and honest communications.

Companies that don’t foster direct, honest communications with employees have trouble keeping their most valuable talent. Your direct reports should feel they can come to you with ideas, questions and problems without fear of negative repercussions. They also want you to be honest with them about changes at the company that will affect their jobs. Checking in with your team members on a regular basis is one of the best ways to keep them motivated and engaged. If you hold offsite teambuilding events, include one-on-one communications between each employee and their manager.

The IT talent shortage is not expected to be resolved anytime soon, so hiring managers and human resources departments must collaborate on creative ways to attract and keep technical talent. There’s no better time to enhance your employee retention strategies!