Trying to match the offers of others after those offers have been received by your employee is reactionary and rarely works. It’s already too late. Either the employee would be wondering why you didn’t think of giving him the raise earlier, or he would move into a position of control that would be unacceptable in the long run.
So, if you need to retain your valued employees – either you need to give them raises (including salary, perks, and benefits) before others give them better offers, or you can try to create a comfort zone for the employee that makes him or her think twice before leaving your organization. All strategies involving employee engagement, employee loyalty and etcetera, in connection with employee retention, boil down to these simple options.
As Susan Urquhart-Brown observes in her book The Accidental Entrepreneur: 50 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me about Starting a Business (New York: AMACOM, 2008), “From the day new employees walk in your door, you need to figure out how to keep them satisfied and productive.”
Besides compensation, professionals thrive in comfort zones and the following points are important for creating environments that are sure to make your employees think twice before leaving:
• Quick and fair recognition of performance
• Opportunities for realizing career objectives and ignored abilities
• Good rapport and bonhomie with colleagues
• Creation of productive teams where teammates come to depend on the presence of each other to deliver excellence
• Flexible work hours
• Policies that support work-life balance
However, doing all that may not be easy to the uninitiated, and Urquhart-Brown breaks down things into four simple strategies that help a small business owner or HR manager get things done:
1. Ask questions directly: Ask an employee directly “what would make you want to stay” or “what would make you want to leave,” or “what would somebody have to offer to make you leave?” Don’t be inhibited by your limited resources. It is definitely worthwhile to set the ball rolling and at least find out things that would help you to strategize retention.
2. Involve employees in setting your organization goals: This is very important for small businesses with few employees. The top people are too valuable to let go, and one of the best strategies to make them stay is to involve them in setting strategic business goals. Know one thing well, professionals are professionals because they hate to leave things unfinished. As long as their projects are running with goals which they had a hand in establishing, they would like to complete achieving those goals before they think of leaving.
This strategy also opens the doors to constructive criticism, and makes employees feel that their input is valued. Even if their ideas are not accepted, as long as the owner or the management listens to the ideas, employees accept that they have a say.
3. Focus on work-life balance and family-friendly policies: Flexible work hours and policies that allow employees to shoulder their family responsibilities more easily are much favored and valued. Most employees would think twice before leaving for a company that pays more, but would never allow them time to drop their kids off to school, or occasionally leave early for a family gathering.
4. Connect and collaborate: Make the environment easy and friendly. An office workplace should not be a prison camp. It should foster an environment where people could share jokes, chat with each other, and think of solving company problems together. Create a social environment – invite trainers, have company gatherings where people really feel well and feel like contributing, and publicly appreciate good performance.
These four strategies can work wonders for your company or small business for retaining the best employees without costing you much.