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Retaining Employees

Turnover is expensive.  Keeping a good staff involves much more than a suitable paycheck.  Our discussions with potential employees indicates the money is a more minor issue in the search for a new job.  Job Seekers are concerned about the work place atmosphere, the potential for personal growth, the opportunity to accomplish, their relationships with co-workers and with you, their manager.  Your approach to these concerns influences the quality of work produced, the atmosphere in the office, and your ability to retain your employees.  Encourage a happier, more engaged team and long-term employees with the following suggestions:

First Impressions Count

People don’t like change. The first days on a new job can be stressful, awkward, and challenging. The first days on the job often set the tone of how a new employee will fit in.  As an employer, you need to consciously take responsibility for the quality of your new employee’s first week.

Be prepared for the new arrival. Have the first day planned with a welcome meal of some kind, an orientation or facility tour and introduce co-workers. The employee will appreciate it and so will curious co-workers.   Prepare the new employees work space in advance with necessary supplies, tools and manuals.

Personalize the first experience.  Get a name plate and business cards prepared in advance if possible.  Not having a desk, a computer, logon, e-mail access, is unacceptable.  Arrange for other employees to accompany the new employee to lunch and breaks for the first few days and perhaps discuss the corporate culture.  Take time to introduce the employee to people they will need on a regular basis i.e.  The travel reservation staff, the petty cash handler.  Do not let your lack of planning negatively effect your new employee’s first impression of your organization. You want your new employee to feel that you are ready for them and have planned for their arrival. It might be wise to create a checklist of things to do for and with new employees.

Be engaged and responsive.  A first good impression isn't an end to the process.  Management must communicate.  Show the employee that you are accessible to them going forward. Tell employees how to reach you but reach out to them as well. Scheduled meetings are necessary, but are not the same as having a boss check in.  Communication goes a long way toward employee satisfaction and can in turn provide worthwhile feedback to the manager who listens.

Say what you do and do what you say. A major employee complaint about managers is that they make lip service commitments.  They make promises and then it is "out of sight, out of mind." Consistent follow-through is a must.  When you fail to do the things you’ve agreed to do, you establish a reputation for unreliability. Delivery of promises, or at minimum, a rational explanation of why the promise is undeliverable generates an atmosphere of respect and trust. Managers who follow through are respected .

Provide opportunity and reward results:  Giving all your staff the same opportunity for success then reward those who succeed. Do not fall into the trap trap of rewarding everyone regardless of their sucess.  Undeserved reward diminshes the value of genuine rewards and erodes the concept of competition. Healthy competition encourages progress and accomplishment.  Employees try to outperform their peers in an environment of healthy competition.  An outstanding college professor of mine, Ellen Shannon, did not buy into the "pass all" concept that is so prevalent today.  Her idea was "teach for the exceptional and they average will learn (accomplish) more."  It worked.  Her classes were challenging and her students engaged.

Encouraging outstanding performance of your more capable people, will inspire above average results in others.

Developing a productive process As a manager, listening is critical.  Too many managers believe in dictating and ordering without regard to the employees thoughts.   Listening to employee suggestions accomplishes two things.

1.  Employees will accept and assist with planned changes because they have a personal investment in the process.
2 An employees’ opinions and ideas may actually be better and something that you want to hear and maybe even implement.

Listening and hearing go together. Use your ears and your mouth in correct proportion, 2:1.

Appreciate Your Employees: Showing appreciation goes hand-in-hand with listening.  Hearing what they say is one form of appreciation.  Hearing what employees also helps you learn which type appreciation elicites positive response from each individual.  Some people like a hug, some a pat on the back or a letter of recognition. Good managers customize appreciation to individual preferences.  Many women, for example, want to feel needed while another employee may need to be a star more often.

Encourage Professional Growth: There is always room for improvement even in more mundane tasks. As a manger, it is crucial to give employees opportunities to take on greater responsibilities, broaden their skills, and cultivate teamwork.  Professional growth does not necessarily equal a raise and a promotion. Both employees and companies can profit from developing an employee’s area of interest through assignments and projects, and training.  Employee participation in conferences can be a motivator, serve as recognition, and helps develop professional relationships. Engage your staff members by giving them the opportunity to learn and grow to help them become better achievers.

Be True to Yourself:  Know your management style and its effect on your employees.  Consistency is important.  Predictable behaviors are critical to maintain long-term rapport if you want to maintain. employee confidence and trust.  Avoid surprises and encourage staff to do likewise.  Let them bring potential problems to your attention before they are fulfledged problems and do the same for them then engage teamwork to minimize problems.