Four ways to increase employee retention

By Brenda LaMarche / Guest Column

In today’s competitive employment market, em­ployee retention is a hot topic. The key is em­ployee engagement, which has its roots in your company culture and vines its way into every as­pect of your business. The more committed and stimulated employees feel, the more likely they are to stay with your company.

Consider this: 47 percent of those actively looking for a new job say company culture is the main reason they are looking to change, accord­ing to a 2017 Hays study.

Lack of engagement can result in increased turnover, which is painful and costly. It has be­come more difficult to hire qualified candidates for existing job openings. While some turnover is good and to be expected, a lot of employee churn is bad and costly to a business. The cost of recruiting and training continues to increase, and time spent on these tasks can take away from other activities.

There are three types of employees: en­gaged, not engaged and actively disengaged. When an employee is engaged, they work with passion and feel connected to the company. A study completed by Aon Hewitt in 2017 found that approximately 24 percent of the American workforce falls into this category. Half of em­ployees are simply not engaged – they put in their hours, neither driving nor eroding busi­ness performance. And then there are the ac­tively disengaged employees, who make up 20 percent of the workforce. These individuals may actively undermine projects, coworkers and managers, creating a toxic environment.

Through improved communication and train­ing, your company can cultivate better relation­ships with its employees and reduce churn.

Employee engagement should be part of the company’s overall strategy for success. All depart­ments, managers and even employees can be­come involved – all they need are tools and guid­ance to take an interest in the company’s culture.

One challenge for diverse companies is adopting the appropriate communication methods for different audiences. Blue-collar workers may require a different approach than white-collar workers, who have regular access to email. Different age groups may also require different modes of communication. Are you communicating in a way that works for them?

No matter the makeup of your workforce, the goal is to build trust, and that begins from the top down. Give supervisors the tools they need to develop themselves and empower them to engage other employees more effectively. This will help in building a stimulating company culture that employees appreciate.

Ways to cultivate engagement

Empower employees. Give them more responsi­bility and freedom to make decisions and lead projects. Greater responsibility will engender greater trust in you, your management team and your company. Think about how giving employ­ees more control can contribute to the company mission. The results can be significant.

Get to know your employees. A culture of trust and open communication goes a long way toward stimulating engagement. Care about your employees’ interests and what drives them. Build relationships. Communicate your compa­ny’s mission, strategy and performance regu­larly and honestly. Help employees understand how their job fits into the big picture.

Share successes. Look at different ways to rec­ognize employee and company successes. Praise employees simply and often, using the appro­priate communication channels. Sharing kudos can result in significant positive outcomes, and, best of all, it costs nothing.

Provide training and development opportu­nities. Employees appreciate the chance to en­hance their skills. Look outside the company to find training that will stimulate employees and provide relevant skill-building.

Building a culture of engagement doesn’t happen overnight, but it will have a positive effect on your company. Take the time to help employees feel engaged in their work and con­nected to your company’s success, and you’ll in­crease retention and save on recruiting costs.

Brenda LaMarche is the president and founder of BRL HR Consulting, based in Coralville.