How To Keep Good Employees

How To Keep Good Employees

Employees are the heart and soul of any company, no matter what business they're in. Keeping good employees is a challenge to many companies - especially small, growing companies, that may not able to pay high salaries or provide cushy working environments. But it's not just an attractive benefits package that keeps employees loyal and productive. Examine three key strategies to keep your good employees excited about coming to work every day.

First Key Strategy

The first key strategy for retaining good employees is to hire good employees in the first place.

  • When hiring, keep your employee retention goals in mind by asking yourself these important questions:
    • What do you look for in an exemplary employee?
    • What specific outcomes do you expect from an exemplary employee?
    • How do you want your employees to approach their job tasks?
    • What do you want your customers to feel and think when interacting with your employees?
    • What about the chemistry between the new employee and your existing employees?

  • Hire nice people. It is vital to ensure that candidates possess a combination of a good attitude and self-management skills, as these "innate qualifications" affect the way they interact with customers and the rest of your staff. Even if an employee has degrees from the finest universities and years of Fortune 500 company experience, if they upset customers or demoralize their colleagues, how will they ultimately impact your company? Such people are also likely to resist being taught to do otherwise. However, a candidate who's short on skill and experience, but who shows that he or she can work collaboratively, can be taught skills and will gain experience in time. Therefore, when hiring, do not focus only on the candidate's skills and experience, but always screen the entire person.

Second Key Strategy

The second key strategy is to regularly evaluate employees' performance, identify what's working (or what's not working), and be flexible enough to make accommodations when necessary. Committed employees appreciate gestures that show you value their career development and potential.

  • In addition to the traditional annual performance review, encourage your managers to keep their direct reports apprised year-round if they are on track towards achieving their annual performance targets. This ensures that progress is being adequately recognized/rewarded and any potential shortcomings can be nipped in the bud, so that there are no unpleasant surprises come the "real" performance review. (See more detailed information about developing an effective employee evaluation scheme.)
  • It is natural that your employees' interests and priorities will change over time, and they will want to try new things. "Job-hopping" is a common reason why companies lose key talent. Offer your employees the chance to "job-hop" around your company so they don't feel that they have to leave the company to pursue their interests. Your employees will feel appreciated when they know that their employer is willing to accommodate their changing interests. As a side benefit, you will gain employees who know more about the company and can handle more responsibilities.

Third Key Strategy

The third and most important key strategy to keeping good employees is, simply, communication. This is the single most effective way for managers to impact employees' performance and attitude towards the organization. Your employees want to know how the company is doing and how their roles contribute to ensuring its success.

  • Always remember to give constructive feedback or rewards (usually in the form of praise) to employees who perform well. A simple "thank you" for doing a good job - one on one, in writing, or both, still goes a long way in motivating employees. Acknowledging an employee's achievements in a public forum such as a staff meeting is great for the individual's morale and motivational to others.
  • Provide a feedback forum to find out what your employees think is right or wrong with the company, and more importantly, be prepared to act on the information received.

To maximize retention of good employees, begin by being clear about what you expect from a good employee, and hire accordingly. Second, identify and articulate what's working (or not) in your employees' performance and be flexible enough to make accommodations for their growth. And third, keep the lines of communication open so that everyone in your staff feels empowered and invested in the success of the company.