15 Tips for Keeping Your Best Employees

October 7, 2015

2:00 pm

Job hopping is the new norm these days, especially for millennials. In fact, 91 percent of millennials expect to stay in a job for fewer than three years, meaning they would have to hold 15-20 jobs over the course of their careers. That’s a lot of jobs, and for you, a lot of time spent training employees who do not plan to stay.

So now that you’re hiring the younger generation, how can you entice your employees to stay at your company for the long haul instead of leaving to work for themselves?

  1. Keep employees engaged. Keeping your employees engaged will help them feel fulfilled at work, which will make them less likely to leave. Once employees have been in one place for awhile, it becomes more common to lose focus on what brought them to your company in the first place. Make sure to take steps to refocus your team periodically and remind your employees of the importance behind what they are doing.
  1. Offer mentorship. Mentorship and career development are often more enticing incentives for truly talented employees than money. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, one of the top five characteristics millennials want in a boss is a willingness to mentor. Your best employees will be able to find high salaries anywhere, so offer them other benefits like solid mentorship and career advancement opportunities.
  1. Be flexible. 71 percent of millennials expect to spend time working abroad at some point in their career. If you want this to be with your company, you are going to have to figure out a way to increase flexibility in your workplace or open an office in Tahiti. It may seem like a huge step, but there are plenty of ways to make remote working work for you and your business.
  1. Be challenging and set high standards. Make your standards known and hold your employees to them. The people that work for you will appreciate your transparency, and if your employees feel challenged, the good ones will be less likely to jump ship. Your best employees will appreciate challenging work, so you shouldn’t feel afraid to give it to them.
  1. Build trust. Trust is important in any relationship, including the relationship of employers and employees. If your employees feel like they can trust you to take the company in the right direction, they will be less likely to leave. Nowadays, trust is seen as the new core of business. As the line between work and home life grows increasingly blurry, work relationships are becoming even more important for millennials. Many in the younger working generation want more than nine-to-five coworkers – they want a sense of trust and shared camaraderie with their colleagues and employers.
  1. Check in every once in awhile. Checking in on your employees, beyond work, shows that you care about them as people. One of the most influential bosses I ever had would invite each of my colleagues and I into his office or out to coffee once a month to check in on how we were doing. Our individual work was off the table, but our outside lives and feedback on the office environment were not. Small touches like this can show your employees that you really care.
  1. Prioritize work-life balance. It makes sense that you want your employees to focus on work, but understand that they have lives outside of the office as well. If you’re constantly keeping employees well past dinner time and expecting them to get in during the early hours of the morning, they will probably start looking for a change. Working long hours isn’t even beneficial for you or your business anyway. And with the increasing ease of staying connected, employees can handle office emergencies just as easily from home as they can from the office.
  1. Fire the bad apples. A few bad employees can create a negative work environment that your good employees will want to leave. Every single person you hire will affect your office culture, so make sure you are only hiring the best.
  1. Delegate more than grunt work. Every once in awhile, ask someone else to run a meeting for a few minutes if you have to step out to take a call. Or ask a trusted employee to take point on an important presentation. These actions will send small messages that you have faith in your staff.
  1. Don’t micromanage. Your employees may approach tasks in a different way than you would, but you can’t fault them as long as they get the job done. Instead, work to create an office environment that focuses on results. Many bosses are figuring out that the best way to manage millennials is by giving them a lot of space and a lot of feedback.
  1. Return calls and emails. This should be obvious, but many bosses do not prioritize responding to their employees’ messages, and when they do respond, it’s often just one or two words. Nothing is less encouraging than an “OK. – First Initial. Last Initial.” Even just adding a simple “Thanks!” will make emails friendlier and help you seem friendlier to your employees. And don’t try to get out of it with any time-wasting excuses. It barely takes one second to type “Thanks!”
  1. Give praise where it’s deserved. You don’t have to go around complimenting everyone all the time, but if an employee does a particularly good job on a project, let them know. Formal encouragement can go a long way. In fact, companies with strategic recognition report a mean employee turnover rate that’s 23.4 percent lower than retention at companies that do not have such a program.
  1. Conduct “stay” interviews. As you’re incorporating a new generation into the office, it’s important to keep track of the changes of what is working and what isn’t. Exit interviews are a common occurrence, and you can learn a lot from them, but “stay” interviews can be just as informative. Periodically have a formal interview with your employees and find out what it is that is making them stay. This will give you great feedback in terms of what is working, in addition to the feedback of what isn’t that you get from exit interviews.
  1. Listen. When you’re employees have feedback or something else to tell you, hear them out. Nothing shows that you are valued than having another person truly listen to you.
  1. Know where to find new employees online. No matter what you do, it is inevitable that some of your employees will leave. Know where to look for their replacements. Sites like LinkedIn can be a great place to find your next great employee, since you can sort potential candidates by desired skills or location.

Image Credit: Flickr, Creative Commons: M Yashna

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Ellie Martin is co-founder of Startup Change group. Her works have been featured on Yahoo! , Wisebread, AOL, among others. She currently splits her time between her home office in New York and Israel.

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