How to Hold On to Top Talent

Even in less trying times, labor has always been a challenge for business owners. From recruiting the best candidates, to training, to retention, labor costs are one of the largest costs you will face in your business. Turnover makes that cost even higher; according to the Center for American Progress, the cost of replacing an employee will cost an average of 21 percent of that employee’s salary, and that number is only increasing. In the wake of COVID-19, millions are leaving their current jobs to find new ones that offer better environments, more benefits and greater flexibility. How can you avoid losing your best workers, whether they’re in a corner office or the plant floor? To find out, the first thing we need to understand is why employees leave in the first place.
Why Do Employees Leave?
According to a survey conducted by the Work Institute, the top three reasons workers left a job were career development, work-life balance and manager behavior. The pandemic further highlighted these workplace issues, with many people having to switch to a work-from-home or hybrid work model. Now more than ever, employees are less and less willing to stay at a job where they feel mistreated or undervalued. 
Why Do Employees Stay?
 In the manufacturing sector, employees tend to stay in a job where they enjoy the work they do and have job security. Other important drivers of retention are an employer’s family-oriented culture and ability to fit well with other life demands. Appreciation, recognition and fair compensation packages are top drivers for corporate and sales employees. One study showed that 88 percent of respondents would stay at a job where they feel appreciated and heard. While you can’t control whether an employee likes the work they do, you do have control over what their work environment is like.
Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t: Throw pizza parties as a band-aid solution. While your workers are unlikely to turn down a slice from their favorite local pizza joint, don’t expect that alone to keep them from leaving the job. Showing appreciation in more concrete and genuine ways will mean more to your team in the long run. Letting your employees know you care about them is free and means a lot more than empty gestures. The occasional free lunch is a nice treat, but it doesn’t make up for an unsupportive environment. 
Do: Reach out to your employees for feedback. Employee surveys can provide management with important insights into why employees are satisfied or dissatisfied in the workplace. Giving your team an opportunity to rate and describe their experience will also show them that their input is valuable, especially when the results of the survey affect workplace policies. Conducting exit interviews can also give you insight into reasons employees are leaving. These insights are a gift you can’t afford to waste.
Don’t: Play favorites. Good performance should be rewarded, and often the top talent at your company will consistently have good performance. However, be mindful that performance is actually what is being recognized. Some managers and business owners fall into a trap of giving certain people unfair advantages and promotions in the workplace due to friendships and other connections, and that can lead to a sense of resentment among the other workers. This also leads to employees with high potential falling through the cracks because their manager was so focused on someone else that they didn’t value them properly. 
Do: Offer training, upskilling and re-skilling programs. Career development and the potential for advancement are important to employees at all levels, and offering them training classes or helping pay for outside classes can be a great incentive to stay, especially for those under the age of 25. Not only are you helping them gain important job skills, you’re also showing that they are worth investing in, and that can make all the difference.
Overall, what keeps employees in a job comes down to fair compensation, a supportive environment and proper recognition and appreciation. When you care about your employees as people, you will naturally appreciate them and welcome their feedback. Act with these principles in mind and you will hold onto your employees much more easily and avoid high turnover costs. 
Author: Jessica Chizmar