It is expensive and resource-draining to replace great people when they leave. Hiring new staff takes a lot of time, energy, and money, all of which could be better spent on driving the business forward.
Turnover is a fact of life, but there are a couple of key things leaders can do to improve employee engagement and retention — and these things only take a few minutes every day. We’re not talking about a massive investment, but we are talking about big results.
Here three of the most effective, yet simple, tactics for improving engagement and retention I’ve seen during my career as an executive recruiter:
1. Give Everyone a Stake in the Company’s Success
One of the first companies for which I consulted offered employees a company-wide bonus for hitting sales goals.
Now, this was a very sales-oriented company. The CEO came from a sales background. However, the tactic worked extremely well. Every team member from every group wanted the bonus, and they did everything they could to support the sales teams. The result was more buy-in from employees, and everyone was excited to share the reward when the company succeeded. Motivation levels were high, and fewer people wanted to resign because there was always the potential for another bonus around the corner.
If your company isn’t as sales-oriented, you can still use this same general idea to your advantage. You just have to structure the reward a little differently.
You could tie rewards to the completion of large projects. You could also offer bonuses to celebrate significant milestones for the firm as it grows — for example, reaching your first 1,000 customers or serving 5,000 clients in a year. This is something I observed in a firm I previously recruited for, and the result was that practically every employee was watching the company’s growth and taking an active role in trying to move the needle. There was an overall feeling of excitement, and very few people wanted to leave.
2. Create a Culture of Promoting From Within
The first recruiting firm I worked for did a fantastic job of this, and it all started with the CEO. She went out of her way to ensure every team was promoting people from within the organization as much as possible. At one point, every manager in the company had started as an entry-level employee!
Now, this was a small startup, and this level of internal promotion may not be possible in a larger organization. However, the basic idea holds true: By showing employees that you promote from within whenever possible, you’ll encourage them to stick around. When employees see a clear path forward within the organization and watch their colleagues be rewarded for their efforts, they’ll be motivated to stay for the long term.
Internal promotion is a great way to you get your employees to stay with your organization, work harder, and say, “No thanks — I’m happy where I’m at,” when recruiters call.
3. Spend a Couple Minutes in the Trenches Every Day
In my experience, the companies with the healthiest cultures and best employee engagement all had CEOs and executives who made themselves accessible to all employees. These senior leaders regularly took the time to walk around the office, chat with workers, and demonstrate that they, too, were part of the team.
The last company I worked for full-time had around 250 staff members, and the CEO knew everyone’s name. In fact, the CEO met with each new employee right after they were hired. This had a significant impact on the new employee’s investment in the company. From day one, people (including me) came in energized and supported. This went a long way in motivating employees to go above and beyond to make sure the company succeeded. It also made employees feel comfortable enough to voice concerns so that small issues didn’t turn into larger problems.
While meeting with every new employee might not be feasible for the CEO of a company of 10,000 people, any step you can take in this direction will be beneficial.
Small changes at the executive level can have a powerful impact on employee engagement and turnover. By following the tips above, you can make an immediate improvement in these areas — and you wouldn’t even have to spend too much time doing it.
Biron Clark is an executive recruiter, career coach, and founder of careersidekick.com.