Retaining Talent: 4 Ideas you can Implement Immediately Retaining employees, particularly well-performing employees in key roles, is vital to an organization’s success and growth. Losing a high-performer can cause delays in critical initiatives, as well as upset the balance of your culture and workflow. While employee retention and engagement is, and should-be, a continual long-term effort, here are four ideas you can implement starting tomorrow that could make an immediate impact on your ability to retain the best talent for your organization. 1. Set Your Fears Aside Fear is the most prevalent reason leaders delay or altogether avoid addressing retention issues head-on. Leaders fear that an employee will ask for a raise, bring up an issue the leader doesn’t have a solution for, ask for something the leader doesn’t have the authority to grant, or simply continue to talk about the same problem or annoyance over and over. The reality is, however, that these desires, problems, and annoyances exist even if a leader doesn’t make the space and time for an employee to share them. Wouldn’t you rather know about a problem on your team than be blindsided later? Consider the opportunity to learn about a problem and address it as a gift. Get comfortable with the fact that you’ll never have all the answers and won’t be able to resolve every problem. Be brave. Be bold. Be open. Ask questions not just of your team, but of yourself. 2. Conduct Stay Interviews You’ve likely heard of an exit interview, but have you ever heard of a stay interview? Conducting a stay interview can be a wonderful way to dig into how you can help an employee grow, develop, and stay engaged. You’ll find a list of a few of the benefits of stay interviews below. If you’re worried about drawbacks, re-visit the previous section about fear! Stay interview questions solicit information about why an employee stays with your organization, what might make them leave, whether they are considering leaving and why, and their passions, annoyances, challenges, and goals. Benefits of Stay Interviews Find out why employees stay at your company. You may be surprised by what you discover! Identify, re-engage, and monitor employees who are considering exiting your organization. Achieve quick wins by resolving small problems and annoyances. Evaluate the impact and effectiveness of organizational changes, benefit programs, leadership, communication, etc. Build trust and demonstrate care and support. Learn about individual employee motivations, passions, and what bothers them. Then adjust your management style accordingly. Identify those who aren’t a good fit for their role and would be better served by moving to another role or exiting the organization. A stay interview doesn’t have to be conducted by the employee’s direct supervisor. At times, having another leader or an executive conduct the interviews can be beneficial and lead to a more open conversation, particularly if there may be communication challenges between the employee and their direct supervisor. 3. Have Regular One-On-One Meetings How often have you heard that employees need regular feedback? If you’re not already having regular bi-weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings, you may need to hear it one more time! But turn things around and consider how valuable regular feedback from your team would be to you. Feedback goes both ways, and two-way respectful feedback allows trust, efficiency, and productivity to bloom and grow. Normalizing a regular, open conversation around achievements, challenges, efficiencies, improvements, impediments, annoyances, and ongoing development can truly accelerate the performance of your entire team and organization. Regularly asking employees about ideas for improvement provides them the opportunity to add value and contribute meaningfully to the continuous improvement of your business operations. Employees who feel heard and cared for are more likely to gift you with heartfelt effort, loyalty, great ideas, and trust. Above and beyond contributions originate from the heart, not the head. We feel compelled to provide a cautionary note here, however: Leaders, this is a commitment you can begin immediately, but it’s one you should be prepared to honor indefinitely. As with any organizational initiative, if it runs out of steam or you regularly cancel or put off meetings with your team, you’ll lose trust and traction rather than gain it. Your time is certainly precious, so set a schedule you can commit to. Make the agenda and follow up tasks the responsibility of your employees – they will be more accountable and prepared and your time investment for multiple meetings won’t be as significant. 4. Continually Evaluate Compensation Fair compensation, along with meaningful work, are among the top reasons people stay at their job. One without the other is often a recipe for disengagement and shorter tenure. One of the most important roles of a leader is to connect employees with the meaning, results, and beneficiaries of their work, which takes time, intention, and planning. Compensation, however, can be evaluated starting today. An employee who is feeling underpaid, undervalued, and unrecognized is almost certainly actively seeking employment elsewhere. In some industries, competition for talent is rapidly increasing the market value of your current employees, and other companies will happily pay them significantly more than you do. Monitoring compensation trends in competitive industries is critical to retaining your talent. Evaluating compensation is an undertaking you can begin immediately. We recommend starting with reliable data, which often comes with a price tag, either by paying for membership to an industry association or by purchasing from a reliable source. In addition to sourcing industry associations or non-profit groups for available compensation data, the federal government publishes national and regional pay data, which is searchable by position at www.onetonline.org. As you evaluate compensation, keep in mind that you may need to or want to pay your highest contributors over and above the going rate or your stated pay range. Your superstar employees may deserve superstar compensation, and will return your investment by delivering results for you instead of your competitors. Can your organization work on implementing any of these tips? Sarah Charlier As a HR Services Supervisor for Oasis, a Paychex® Company, Sarah Charlier engages directly with Presidents, CEOs, and Executive Leadership in organizations to identify and execute strategic human resources initiatives. She serves as a business partner by leading executives and managers through employee relations issues, technical labor law compliance, preparing managers to effectively manage employee performance, and creating and adapting HR processes to best serve the organization.