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Take Proactive Steps to Retain Your Key Employees

Human Resources

Both small and large businesses need effective employee retention tactics. Because it’s more important than ever to have top talent on your team, business owners should focus on identifying their top employees and find ways to retain them.

Why is this so urgent? Here's a look at key statistics that illustrate this point:

  • Nearly half of millennial employees say that if the opportunity presents itself, they plan to leave their jobs within two years.
  • Companies lose approximately $11 billion every year as a result of employee turnover.
  • Businesses that work to increase the rate of their engaged employees see, on average, a stunning 147 percent higher earnings per share than their competitors.

Having talented and dedicated employees on your team often means the difference between success and failure. How can you identify these valuable team members? Seasoned entrepreneur Andrew Cravenho urges business owners to measure top talent in these ways:

  • Examine an employee's aptitude and wish to grow, rather than performance alone.
  • Look for signs of his or her engagement with the business.
  • Identify those who take action and make change happen, as opposed to those who "watch and wait."
  • Single out employees who hold themselves accountable and who actively take on responsibility.

It's likely you already have a good idea of which employees demonstrate these characteristics. So what can you do to retain them and prevent their costly departure? These employee retention tactics can help:

Measure top talent in four ways: examine, look for signs, identify, single out.

Provide a competitive salary and benefits package. You can't expect talented employees to stick around without offering salaries that are competitive within your industry. The same holds true for a benefits package that covers areas such as health and life insurance, a retirement savings plan, and, increasingly, a flexible work schedule with the option of working remotely.

Acknowledge the importance of having a work/life balance. Respect an employee's need to balance his or her job with other demands in their lives. Truly engaged employees benefit from having time to care for their families, as well as caring for themselves.

Foster a culture of recognition and reward. Everything from offering a sincere "thank you" in person or conveying gratitude through a handwritten note to singling out individuals at all-staff meetings fosters a culture of recognition. Recognition programs that "offer awards, VIP parking spaces, small gifts, and other public acknowledgments of a job well done" mean a lot to employees.

Offer employees the chance to influence the business.  An "A" employee is likely to have some compelling suggestions of ways to improve operations and/or strategy. Rather than insisting that all direction come from the top, look for ways to encourage employees to speak up, identify obstacles to the company's growth, and otherwise provide an honest critique of the business.

Enable employees to grow in their jobs. This is probably the single most important element in a successful employee retention campaign. A recent survey showed that nearly 65 percent of employees polled said “the opportunity to gain new job skills is a critical consideration when making a job change." To make sure employees can grow in their jobs, keep these strategies in mind:

  • Identify specific employee growth objectives.
  • Make use of technology to create internal training opportunities.
  • Offer stipends or tuition reimbursement so employees can engage in business-related training and classes.
  • Invite employees to attend industry meetings and conferences.
  • Design a leadership development program aimed at expanding professional responsibilities and pinpointing avenues toward promotion within the company.

Although they do come with a cost, competitive salaries and benefits, appropriate recognition, and advanced training opportunities are just some of the ways that businesses can help retain a happy and highly motivated workforce.


This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.
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