August 15, 2022
Northstar knows that the employee you have today is one you want to keep and more importantly it’s far more cost effective to invest in the person you have working for you today then the new hire tomorrow.
We want to give you some tactics and strategies you can begin to implement today. In order to focus on retention, provide benefits employees now EXPECT. The upside is most of them will help your employees stay productive and develop professionally within your organization. A win win.
1. Consider flexible work schedules*
Over the past two years, COVID, social issues, and environmental and economic events changed the way we work forever and highlighted that flexible work environments are here to stay, as people are opening themselves up to new opportunities more than ever before. Having schedules that cater to the employee first–whether it’s a salaried worker whose position now allows them to work fully or partially remote or an hourly worker who has more control of their schedule–is a non-negotiable for current employees and candidates. Make no mistake, if employees can’t get flexibility from you, they’ll seek it elsewhere.
Flexible schedules should not be limited to hourly service workers. HR leadership needs to connect with salaried workers who may work a traditional “nine-to-five” schedule to determine if that model still works for them. Simply adjusting someone’s schedule by an hour so they can drive their child to school can go a long way in terms of employee happiness. It shows employees that their personal lives are just as valued as their job. This is a low cost retention strategy should also include regularly touching base to ensure that, as an employee’s situation evolves, their schedule can evolve as well. Be cautious that this should become a process and have an SOP, not simply an exception for specific roles but not others.
2. Develop career paths and structured growth opportunities
Often leaders believe more money, high pay and increases are the key for employee recruitment and retention and that is always high on a list, closely behind is employee development. Employees of almost all generations are eager to work at organizations where they have professional development opportunities. A key retention strategy should include developing clear career paths and mentorship programs. This not only helps your organization remain competitive to job seekers but also allows for succession plans for aging leadership.
Make sure that you understand candidates’ career goals during their initial interviews and continue this dialogue into their employment and have regular check-ins and reviews as time passes. (Easy to let that slip!). It’s important that candidates and employees know that their personal career goals are prioritized, as this will increase engagement and prove they are supported in their growth. Managers should have regular discussions about career goals and seek opportunities for employees that align with their goals. This could include cross-training programs to expand individuals’ skill sets or establishing mentorship programs with an experienced leader within the organization.
3. Implement thoughtful employee rewards and recognition
Employees are your organization’s most vital asset so it’s imperative that they feel valued. Organizations need to prioritize strong, fair and unbiased rewards and recognition programs that encourage a job well done. HR technology is an asset in the recognition toolbox. Employee engagement software can allow leaders to track employee behaviors that align with their goals. Consider establishing a rewards program that recognizes positive behaviors and awards employees who reach milestone anniversaries or do things like clock in on time or work consecutive shifts without a call-off. Objective criteria such as these are fairer and provide more value than a subjective “employee of the month” award.
Northstar can provide a structure and management training to help you create your own recognition and rewards program at your place of business. This process should be repeatable, consistent, and clear to understand. (Or it won’t be used or have the outcome you’re intending.) It’s important to look past the initial costs of rewards programs and think about how much turnover is truly costing your organization.
A Gallup Workplace survey notes that the cost to replace an employee is one-half to two times their yearly salary. Rewards programs don’t need to be excessively costly either. Even a simple email to staff thanking them for their achievements and sending a gift card can go a long way. Additionally, HR professionals should consider redirecting funds to their current employees by replacing sign-on bonuses with recruitment, referral and retention bonuses.
4. Prioritize and amplify mental health and employee assistance programs (And the crowd goes wild!)
Countless employees worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and faced the challenge of balancing both personal priorities and work responsibilities during a turbulent time. In response, this placed a focus on what organizations are doing to ensure employees feel supported. HR departments need to make sure there’s a communication plan in place so employees are aware of any employee assistance programs or mental health resources available to them. It’s important to not only invest in these types of programs but encourage an open dialogue on topics like mental health and financial wellness.
Consider offering educational sessions to discuss these resources and answer questions. This is the cornerstone of what Northstar EAP offers and we are happy to answer questions about these services and ensure our partnership is meaningful and adds value to your group and lives of your employees and their families.
5. Keep two-way communication lines open
Transparent communication among staff and management needed to increase during the pandemic. HR professionals were tasked with constantly communicating safety, policy and business updates. This level of communication is now the expectation, which provides a great opportunity to build a stronger company culture. Ensure your HR department maintains processes that encourage open and honest communication. This can include anything from satisfaction surveys on a regular cadence to establishing open office hours for any questions or concerns.
By creating opportunities to provide more frequent and even anonymous feedback, employers can glean much-needed information about how their programs are resonating. Use EAP reports as informal surveys to understand the emotional and mental wellness of your team, as well as what they are searching and texting to our Northstar tools and employee portal. The person and details remain confidential, but the macro data is yours to make more informed decisions.