Employee loyalty is a valuable asset for any growing company. Without the full support of your team, you will be hard pressed to keep your growth going.

Furthermore, hiring new employees is often a costly endeavor, and overlooking your veteran employees can potentially drive up your turnover rates.

So the question becomes: Once you’ve identified your best employees, how do you retain them in an increasingly more competitive economy?

Performance reviews can offer insightful information about employees, but they usually contribute more to attrition rather than retention rates.

Here, then, are four things you can do to retain your best employees before you reach the performance review – or, worse, exit interview.

1. Conduct ‘Stay’ Interviews

Stay interviews can be thought of as “pre-exit” interviews. You conduct them before there is any indication an employee is looking to leave their position.

You might think everything is perfect in the office, but the fact is your employees may feel like they’re operating in a challenging work environment, which might drive your best employees away before you even know what’s going on.

By conducting casual, unimposing stay interviews, you give yourself the opportunity to ask your excelling employees what they like – and dislike – about the work environment. After all, they’re the ones in the trenches who are actually doing the dirty work, so to speak. Armed with this information, you can address issues before they lead to higher turnover rates.

Make it a priority to carry out short – but recurring – stay interviews. If you ask the right questions, you might be amazed by what you find out about your company.

2. Avoid One-Size-Fits-All Solutions

BooksYou can also boost retention rates by accommodating your employees’ individual needs – but remember: The same incentives don’t motivate all employees. Some employees might like to work from home for a set number of hours per week. Others might need a later start time so they can get their children off to school. Still others might need assistance or additional guidance with larger projects.

For large companies, employee experience surveys can offer empirical insights into individual employees’ levels of satisfaction and commitment.

You can conduct employee experience surveys by giving your employees questionnaires that contain a series of statements. The employees then pick whether they agree or disagree with each statement – at varying levels of decisiveness (e.g., “mostly agree,” “partly disagree,” etc.).

Sometimes, one-size-fits-all, common solutions – like increasing everyone’s pay – are of little interest to employees. They don’t want generic responses – they want companies to care about their needs on an individual level. In one case study, employee experience survey data provided actionable data that helped a retailer address problems to which the organization was previously oblivious. Blanket solutions, on the other hand, would have been less effective – or even actively harmful.

3. Don’t Skimp on Skills Development

In a survey conducted by Answers in 2014, 88 percent of American participants who intended to remain with their employers had received job-related skills development. Conversely, 30 percent of those with less intention to stay had not received any skills development opportunities.

Employee skills preparation is one component of your company forecast. Your best employees want not only to know the direction in which the company is going, but also be prepared to proficiently contribute to the company, no matter where it goes.

Some important skills areas to develop for your employees include:

- critical-thinking skills;

- problem-solving skills;

- communication skills;

- creativity and innovation skills;

- and collaborative skills.

4. Supportive Supervision and Company Leadership

You can also retain your employees by fostering trusting relationships with them through recognition, consistency, solid guidance, and fairness.

SunsetA WeSpire white paper from July 2015 outlines how managers can set the tone for their departments. A manager’s own level of commitment has a major influence on their employees’ levels of engagement.

Because managers are directly involved with their employees, they can build trusting relationships with them and enact subtle changes that support employees’ individual strengths. This makes the employee feel more valued as an individual – and when employees feel valued, they tend to stick around.

Retain the Best

It doesn’t take much to retain your best employees and encourage new hires to stick around. By taking a few simple, but powerful steps – such as the ones outlined above – you can figure out what your employees need and how to effectively provide it.

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