“Employers have to not only work on keeping and satisfying their employees, but keeping them engaged on a day-to-day basis,” says Laura DiFlorio, a regional director with HR software company Nobscot Corporation, where she specializes in best practices for retention management.
DiFlorio recently spoke with me over the phone about the challenge employers are having right now retaining top talent. She acknowledges that engaging employees on a continuous basis is easier said than done; however, trying to replace them after they’ve left is oftentimes much harder. DiFlorio says now is the time for companies to take action, otherwise, they’re going to find that, as the job market recovers and more opportunities open up, their employees are going to leave for greener pastures.
To help employers combat this challenge, DiFlorio offered the following advice for re-engaging employees, increasing morale and reducing company turnover.
- Give employees the freedom to speak their minds. The very first thing you need to do is create a culture where employees feel comfortable offering feedback. “If employees feel they have to stay quiet and keep their ideas to themselves, you’re going to find yourself in trouble,” says DiFlorio. “And that’s when they leave.”
- Ask them what’s on their minds. Surveys are one of the best ways to measure how your employees feel about the company and their jobs, and figure out what needs to change. When conducting surveys, DiFlorio says, it is crucial that you do two things: Make the surveys anonymous (so, again, people feel comfortable offering candid feedback), and actually use their feedback. “If you solicit employees’ feedback, they expect you to do something with it.” Not taking action on that feedback tells employees you’re not really listening, and that, DiFlorio says, is when they start looking for other opportunities.
- Don’t underestimate the power of the exit interview. While an exit interview will not “save” the employee who’s actually being interviewed, it may help you retain everybody else. By identifying the factors driving employees to leave, you’ll identify the factors that could potentially drive other employees out the door – and do something about it before it’s too late. “If one of your top employees is saying something in their exit interview, chances are, there are other people within the organization who feel the same way,” DiFlorio says.
- Employees got talent. Use it. “Your talent really wants you to know that they have skills, and they want to use those skills,” DiFlorio says. Career development – or lack thereof – is one of the biggest reasons employees leave companies: Employees want to be challenged, and they want to feel like there’s a direction for them. Oddly enough, sometimes the problem isn’t even that the opportunities aren’t there, but simply that the employees are unaware of them. “Senior executives might have a true path for a person, but if the person doesn’t know about it, he or she is going to leave. Companies have to communicate with their employees.”
- Get a fresh perspective from new hires. Want to retain that ‘new hire enthusiasm’? DiFlorio says more companies today are reducing turnover by surveying their newest hires – at anywhere from two weeks to 60 days into the new role (depending on the goals). “New employees will tell you exactly how they’re feeling, because they’re not scared of saying something wrong (yet),” she says. “So that whole early attrition can be nipped in the bud very, very quickly.”
Remember: the efforts you make to engage your employees are only as good as how well you communicate them. “If companies are sincere about their efforts in retaining people, they’ve got to publicize that,” DiFlorio says. “As long as companies are out there and telling their employees what they’re doing [to support them] - the more the communication channels are open – the better off they’re going to be.”Related