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Train and Retain . . . Critical Steps for Keeping Your Best Employees

Evan Hackel

With the cost of hiring at an all-time high, it is more important than ever to recruit the very best employees and make sure they stay with you for the long term.

As a possibly revolutionary thought, let me say that most employees want to stay with the companies that hired them for a significant amount of time. (That is not the case, of course, with employees in certain jobs where a high rate of turnover is expected.) They are not eager to leave. They invested effort to get hired and in most cases, they are hoping to stay around, build a career, and make a meaningful contribution.

Why then to they leave? It could be because they were a poor fit for a company, or because they were using your company as part of a larger, unspoken plan. But in many cases, employees leave because the company has not worked hard enough to keep them productive and happily employed.

Today I would like to share with you some retention strategies from my book Ingaging Leadership: 21 Steps to Elevate Your Business.

Invest Wisely in Training

Training creates a company where people have superior skills, yet it can pay even larger benefits. One of the biggest is that if you invest in training, your employees will realize that they have a future with your company. That creates an environment where your best people are much more dedicated, loyal and productive.

A Joke that Conveys an Important Lesson

A manager asks, “What if I invest a lot of money in training my people and then they leave me?”

Another manager retorts, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?”

The reality is, it’s critical to have a well-trained staff if you want better performance. Yet many companies unfortunately scrimp on training.

Create a Development Plan for Each Employee

Create a personal development plan for and with each employee and revisit it at short, regular intervals. Ask people about their dreams and professional goals, and find ways to make sure your company is the place they can happen.

Employees’ performance reviews offer a good setting to cooperatively create these individual career plans. What specific goals would employees like to reach in the coming year and beyond? What skills and experiences would you like them to add? What resources can you add to help employees reach them?  If you put those expectations onto a timeline, you will have taken a good step toward helping your employees grow, become more fulfilled in their work and become more valuable to your organization too.

Create a Culture of Ingagement

It is possible to create a partnership with your employees where they engage their emotions, minds and hearts in the process of working with you. Here are some ways to do that that have I seen work beautifully in the companies I have worked in and led:

  • Let people help develop your company’s vision. I like to begin meetings by asking attendees to describe the company’s vision in their own words. When people help shape who you are and what you will become, chances are much better that they won’t just come to work and do what is expected of them. They will fall in love with you.
  • Encourage, solicit, capture, develop and implement ideas. I favor open meetings where you capture ideas on whiteboards, discuss them, and put them into practice whenever possible. If you cannot utilize an idea, explain why and engage with its creator to come up with more. Above all, never let an idea go unnoticed or die.
  • Offer a high level of autonomy to employees. If they are passionate about something they would like to do, let them try them you possibly can – even if you suspect that things might not work out perfectly. Good leaders are willing to be proven wrong.
  • Hire people with the right attitude. Attitude is infectious. Good attitudes can spread throughout an entire organization. Unfortunately, a negative one can too.

Offer Benefits that Matter

Offering excellent benefits to the people in your company is expensive – no question – but it is critical to cultivating and retaining a strong employee base. And as we noted at the start of this chapter, your staff is your greatest asset.

Benefits keep people within your organization. If you are not providing comprehensive healthcare coverage and another company offers a better package, people in your company will look for work at that other company. The same is true in relation to funding a 401(k).

I have been a small businessperson and I have worked for large companies, too. I am fully aware of how time-consuming and expensive it is for small businesses to offer good benefits. But the reality is that doing so is worth it. The money you invest is money well spent – and the investment you make will be repaid many times over.


Culture Killers with Tabitha Laser

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