Staff retention is all about keeping the staff you have in your business and not having to constantly hire and train new employees because your existing staff members don’t stay in their jobs. On the face of it, the principle of staff retention seems straightforward; it costs money to post job ads and hold interviews, or use an employment agency, and it takes time for new employees to get up to speed and start being truly effective.
All that’s true, but it’s only scratching the surface of why staff retention is critical to business success.
What it means to take on staff
When your business needs to take on staff, you’re doing far more than simply employing people to do a job in the way you would buy new equipment to do a particular task. Unlike new machinery or computer systems, employees are complex individuals who have needs, goals, and a myriad of personality quirks that make each one of them unique.
Your challenge is to find out what makes each one of them tick; what are their motivations, and how can you take advantage of these to encourage staff to flourish and perform at their best. There are practical considerations to employing staff, like adhering to employment law and managing tax, all those administrative elements that are the same for everyone – but that’s just the beginning.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of the work and mental effort involved in managing staff, don’t despair. You can undertake training courses in staff management and communication skills, and there’s an abundance of information available online to help you learn the art of managing staff. Taking some time to learn the best ways to work with staff is more than worthwhile as you’ll be equipped with the tools and have the self-confidence to manage your team effectively.
Why does staff retention matter so much?
Retaining the staff you’ve invested in makes sense from a purely practical point of view to start with. When you have to advertise for new staff, it costs money and time, and productivity is bound to drop, at least in the first few months between one member of staff leaving and a new employee getting to grips with their role.
More importantly, the person who is leaving is taking with them all their knowledge and expertise; the insight, ideas, relationships they’ve built up with suppliers and customers, their unique perspective, and their place in the team. A new staff member may be a match on paper regarding qualifications and accomplishments, but they’ll have a whole new personality that is bound to make the existing team unsettled to begin with.
Over the time it takes for a new employee to learn, master, and start to make their own contribution to their role in the business, you’re going to be losing in relation to how the business would have operated if the original member of staff had stayed on. Your new employee is never going to slot seamlessly into place on the team; over time, they may match or in some cases do better than the person they replace, but that’s going to be a long-term investment.
How can you retain the staff who are worth keeping?
Not all staff are made equal, and some are more valuable than others; some you might even feel you’re better off without, although in that case waiting until they quit isn’t the best course of action. Those people on your team who make a valuable contribution are worth their weight in gold; both saving you money and making money for you. Therefore it’s worth investing in them to keep them with you.
Money isn’t the overriding motivation for most employees; you mustn’t underestimate its importance, because people naturally want to earn as well as they can so they can live more comfortably. However, salaries aren’t the be all and end all of staff retention. Making the working environment pleasant and welcoming is vital, because people would generally much rather be happy, fulfilled, and comfortable while they’re at work than earn a few extra cents.
Feeling valued and respected is a massive motivator, and one which is in many ways one of the easiest and cheapest retention methods you can use. Listening to your staff, giving them feedback on a job well done, and taking an interest in them as a person and not just a tool of the business are actions that cost nothing but reward your efforts enormously.
Taking this respect and appreciation a step further, you can play a part in keeping your employee’s interest piqued and help them advance their career by providing accredited training onsite or funding their attendance at training courses elsewhere.
You could pay for them to achieve further qualifications like an MBA from Walsh University Online, not only giving them a recognized status but adding to their value to your business at the same time. If you aren’t in a position to pay for such a course, then contributing, or at least giving the staff member study leave and ongoing support will be very much appreciated.
In tandem with their achievements in training and qualifications, giving staff new responsibilities and widening their job role keeps them engaged with their work and less likely to want to defect elsewhere. These investments in your staff are not just for their benefit, of course, as your business will do better if your staff are taking on more responsibility and are better able to manage their workload.
Finding the keys to unlocking each person’s potential may take some effort, but the rewards are more than worthwhile in terms of increased productivity and resulting profitability. Having found these great people to work for you, the last thing you want to happen is for them to get a better offer elsewhere and leave. You can’t always prevent people from moving on, but there’s certainly plenty you can do to keep the numbers to a minimum. Staff are the lifeblood of your business and deserve to be given every advantage and opportunity, both for their own fulfillment and to optimize their contribution to your business.