Motivation and satisfaction

Boost your employee retention without breaking the bank

Have you had this talent on your team that is ready for promotion, and just before you speak with the person, he or she deposits a resignation letter?

Well, you are not alone in this situation. In a survey conducted among 8759 senior leaders in Europe, 69% of the participants share the same problem for the past five years.  It is a pity that this same 69 % of the people do not know where the issue has come from and what they could do differently to stop this action of resigning before even the person started thinking in that direction.

I did not survey so many senior leaders, but in my small consultancy practice, I have helped more than 100 companies to restructure and rearrange their internal politics toward the employees, and this helped me build my list of things that can keep the best employees on your team, without any need to break your bank (budget). 

My list helped companies in my own country, and even my current employer keep the best and brightest talents on our team,  although  I work for a production company with a flat structure where advancement is represented as an expert knowledge and skills development than as vertical growth. Still, we hold a less than 2% turnover on an annual basis and manage to keep our best talents in the company, without the need to invest a vast amount of money in this

Provide training

While many people connect training with an investment of a sum of money, this assumption is wrong.  Training can cost less money than you think.  Also, you can manage to organize the training internally if you have an employee or group of employees who are masters in the skill or the set of skills you want to teach.  One mistake I often see is how people waste money and time in leadership training. Do not get me wrong,  these type of pieces of practice have their place in everyone’s development,  but before taking that step, everyone must try to learn the basics by relying on internal mentoring, coaching, etc. Training must allow new and seasoned employees to become better without feeling overwhelmed or creating negative emotions. Planning for a training activity can also make your budget stick in the norms without causing unexpected expenses for every new hire, or a regular employee, moving into a new role.

Soup up your benefits  

While trying to look attractive for new hires or keep the existing staff at how they call it “high level of engagement,” many companies and leaders add unique benefits to the packages they offer. There is nothing wrong with having the right package of perks, but what is the point of investing in such a package if only part of the people will use it.  Instead of expanding the package, you have to evaluate the benefits you offer and let those widely used with every new ask from employees. Also, the excellent point is to stop expanding and start communicating. According to the Gallup survey from 2018, 52% of the employees do not know the whole social package at their companies. For me, there is an alarming number. It should also be for you. If you continue adding new features to the package, you make an investment that you cannot measure as an impact for the company employees and just throw away company money without reevaluating the status. It looks like a lottery: you invest and invest, just hoping to get the jackpot at some moment.

Offer clear metrics

In the last ten years, the paradigm of not measuring performance has evolved.  This model’s authors are offering short-term coaching and straight-to-the-point feedback to help employees become highly productive.  But still, performance evaluation exists and is widely used for different purposes.  People need to measure themselves toward standards and others to say they are successful (or as Sigmund Freud said it “To feed they Alter Ego”). That is why to keep your people engaged and accountable, you need to offer a transparent model of measuring their performance and achievements.  And this model must relate to a transparent system of benefits, according to the level of achievement. Measuring only yourself is rewarding in a personal plan, but when you need to achieve results and position yourself in a group, team, or community, you need to know where you stand on a professional level. That is why,  if the leader wants to keep the best performers in the team, he or she must focus on formulating and communicating clear performance metrics that allow the person to position himself toward others in the group and company goals and achievements.

Be the best as a company

The leader who offers much but does not have time to communicate it correctly is not a winner.  Employees tend to leave companies because they do not know anything about the company’s benefits and the society they are part of.  Some leaders may argue that is clear from the company mission. A company mission without real examples is nothing more than a phrase in a document or on the company website to disappoint them. To be the best as a company means the leadership team to show up examples that makes the company different from others on the market,  how the strategy toward employees develops and satisfies employee’s needs,  how the community benefits from the company, and the particular employee work.  That gives sense to the weird-looking goals and puts meaning to every employee’s work.  And the purpose is what makes people think if they are at a crossroads to stay or leave.    

Open your door

I have met many senior executives who claim that they have established an open-door policy but still have scheduled hours for meeting with employees. Even at the largest companies, this looks weird, but it is not acceptable in small and mid-term companies. The leader who claims that he is open for discussion at every moment in time must follow this statement.  To have an open-door policy means to be close to your employees and be there when they need you.  If employees feel that they are supported, their questions receive answers, and their pains are shared or even resolved – well, they stay.  There is nothing cheaper than your time when you want to achieve results with a specific group of people.

I once had a team leader ready to do everything for my pains from 09:00 to 05:00. And then, my problem had to wait until tomorrow.  And once, I needed only 5 minutes with her to help me with internal uncertainty.  But I made a mistake to be at her office at the time she was ready to live.  I asked politely for 5 minutes from her time, and the answer was: “You know I am always ready to help you,  but your 5 minutes must go to tomorrow because as you see, I am leaving the office”.  I never asked for another 5 minutes from her time and found a senior leader above her level, which helped me grow further.

If, as a leader, you need your employees to succeed and understand that very well, then the open-door policy must be your priority in work. If not- well, you will need to keep your employees with something else that can cost you much more from your time and company budget.

IN CONCLUSION: There is nothing scary to start losing people from your company.  But good companies and great leaders learn from mistakes and fix them as soon as they can.  A good company can give employees enough space to grow and offer good perks that are useful for the whole population of employees.  Individual needs are something good, but they can easily break the bank.  Instead of breaking the company bank, leaders must focus on doing nontraditional things and opening their doors for employees to ensure better acceptance and a high engagement and accountability level


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