As a manager, you likely know the impact that high employee turnover can have on your team and organization. That’s why recruiting the right people for your team, and making every effort to retain them once they’re hired, is so important.
So what is the secret to keeping good employees on your team? In this article, we’ll outline a few key strategies for keeping employees happy and engaged. We will also cover how to handle a departing employee and learn from the experience.
Why Employee Retention Is A Top Priority
High turnover is expensive in every sense of the word. Recruiting new employees is a costly and time-intensive process that can greatly disrupt day to day operations. For this reason, many companies have made it a priority to improve employee retention rates.
The 2020 pandemic disrupted the foundation of employee engagement and retention. Suddenly, good and established employees were jumping ship for jobs that offered more flexibility and a better work life balance.
This sudden change has forced employers to re-evaluate their relationship between employee satisfaction and the overall success of their business. Many organizations are now focused on investing in their employees and improving the overall employee experience.
How To Keep Good Employees Happy
Good employees are hard to come by. When you find that metaphorical ‘needle in a haystack’, it is important to do everything you can to keep them in your own haystack. There are several proven methods that managers can use to keep employees happy:
CREATE A POSITIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT
This includes creating a supportive and collaborative culture, providing opportunities for professional development, and celebrating vacations and earned time off.
RECOGNIZE AND REWARD EMPLOYEES
This can include offering competitive compensation and benefits, providing opportunities for advancement, and offering employee recognition for achievements and performance.
ENCOURAGE TEAM COMMUNICATION AND EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK
This involves creating an open-door policy where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns, and regularly seeking feedback to help improve the work environment.
FOSTER A SENSE OF BELONGING
This can include promoting team-building activities, celebrating successes, and providing opportunities for employees to connect with each other.
PROVIDE MEANINGFUL WORK
Employees are more likely to be engaged when they feel their work is meaningful and contributes to the success of the organization.
This can include flexible work hours or remote work options, which can help employees achieve a better work life balance.
INCREASE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
An employee that feels they are a valued part of the overall team is less likely to leave than an employee who feels like they are in their own silo. Increasing employee engagement is a proven technique for improved employee retention rates.
What Is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement goes far deeper than just making sure every team member contributes during meetings. Employee engagement refers to the emotional and psychological connection employees have with their work and their organization.
Engaged employees are committed to their job and are passionate about what they do. They feel valued, respected, and supported by their employer, and they are motivated to give their best effort to help the organization succeed.
Employee Engagement Strategies
The core of any employee engagement and retention strategy revolves around how satisfied the employee is within their role. This satisfaction often spans much deeper than their compensation package. Some good engagement strategies that can be implemented to help retain employees include:
- Routine 1 on 1 meetings with your employees: Meeting with your staff 1 on 1 is a great way to gauge their job satisfaction. These meetings can create a safe opportunity for your employee to voice sources of frustration and dissatisfaction, preventing a surprise departure down the road. These meetings can also encourage employees to ask for more responsibilities, building their own value and satisfaction within the organization.
- Help employees engage with their work: It is somewhat common for employees to not fully understand what role their work plays in the overall operations of a company. Without understanding where their own puzzle piece fits in the big picture, it can be difficult to get employees engaged with their work. Offer them information on how their effort benefits the department or the company overall, and why those efforts are so important.
- Support your employees: While you do not need to be friends with your employees, you do need to practice supporting your employees when the need arises. For example, if an employee is being verbally abused by an unhappy customer or client, stand up for your employee and make efforts to protect them from the customer. Keep in mind, it is often more detrimental to lose a good employee than it is to lose a bad customer.
What Are The Benefits Of An Engaged Employee?
Engaged employees are more productive, innovative, and creative, and they are more likely to stay with the organization for the long term. They also tend to be more satisfied with their job and have a more positive attitude towards their work, which can lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction and better overall business outcomes.
Engaged employees also tend to grow into more leadership type roles within their organizations. Whether that’s stepping up to train a new employee, taking on a special project, or just keeping a pulse check on the success of their department – these employees are highly valuable members of any team.
How To Handle An Employee Departure
When an employee leaves, it can affect your entire team. As the manager, it is important to handle an employee departure with as much professionalism and grace as you can. Furthermore, employee departures can be a good opportunity to learn about improvements you can make for other employees.
Follow these steps when handling an employee departure:
1. Show Understanding and Kindness Towards the Departing Employee
It can be difficult to accept the news that an employee is departing, however the rest of your team is watching how you react to the situation. If you show kindness to the departing employee, then your team is likely to follow suit. If you show frustration and anger towards the departing employee, your team will pick up on this sense of unease and distrust. Losing an employee is already a disruption to your team’s overall operations, make sure you do not add to this with additional negativity.
2. Help Facilitate a Smooth Departure for the Rest of Your Team
Losing a team member can often mean more work for the remaining members of the team. Come up with a plan as soon as you learn of an employee’s upcoming departure. Make sure you evenly distribute the additional workload, and be prepared to take on some additional work yourself to demonstrate you are also a part of the overall team – this is also a great example of servant leadership!
3. Begin Searching for a Replacement Right Away
If you know you will be replacing the departing employee, do not wait to get the job listing posted. It is important that the rest of your team knows you are working diligently to fill this new opening. Keep your team posted as you receive resumes and begin to interview qualified candidates. This shows your team that you are aware of the stress a vacant position puts on the team, and that you are prioritizing filling this gap.
4. Schedule an Exit Interview
No matter what your feelings are towards the departing employee, you have an opportunity to learn from this experience. Schedule some time to sit down with the employee and conduct an exit interview before they leave. Ask questions like ‘why’ and ‘what would it have taken for you to stay’? Thoughtfully listen to their responses, and assure them the information will be kept confidential.
5. Apply What You’ve Learned to Benefit the Team
Hopefully the employee’s exit interview brought to light some new information for you to use to improve your team’s overall satisfaction. If the employee mentioned being dissatisfied with a toxic work environment, then you can look for ways to improve your overall workplace. Or, if the employee mentioned leaving for higher pay or better benefits then it may be time to revisit your organization’s compensation package. Take good notes and be prepared to present your findings to your direct reporting managers.
Engaged Employees Start With Good Leaders
Keep in mind that everyone stands to benefit from a team of engaged employees. When your team is engaged and satisfied, they are more likely to stay on for the long haul. Well-established employees mean less turnover for you to deal with, and an increased ability to take on more advanced work.
Good leadership is the foundation to any engaged team. If you are working to advance your own leadership skills and become an active member of your own team, check out our article on Servant Leadership. This leadership style is often recognized by teams as a valuable foundation for engaged team members.