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Retaining Your Top Employees

(October 2011) posted on Tue Sep 20, 2011

How to construct a positive work environment to ensure employee retention.

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By Marty McGhie

My third key to employee retention is management. Behind every happy staff is a great management team. As Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman wrote in First, Break All the Rules, “People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.” Developing your company into a place where your employees can be successful starts with their managers. When your management effectively communicates the company philosophy and projects genuine appreciation for the workplace, their attitude will have a trickle-down effect onto the rest of the company. It starts from the top with training, mentoring, positive feedback, constructive criticism, and so on. Focus on being an excellent manager and those same attitudes will be pervasive among your entire team.

A financial reason to stick around
Beyond providing employees with “contentment considerations,” you also must make sure you’re offering them a financial reason to stick around. If you want to keep your best employees, you must pay them a competitive salary.

Aside from that, providing some fringe benefits can tie them to your company for the long term. For example, a 401(k) plan or a like-kind retirement plan is essential in attracting stable, lasting employees. A company match to your employees’ contributions will be a valuable benefit. You might also want to evaluate the amount of personal time or vacation/sick leave that you currently allow. Younger-generation employees especially value their time away from the office. Flexibility with work schedules, vacation, etc., can be just as important to an employee as the amount of money they’re making. Extra benefits that don’t cost the company significant amounts of money can often make the difference in keeping a valued employee.

This next suggestion might be the last, but it is by no means the least important: Provide room for growth. If the members of your team don’t feel that there’s a chance to grow and improve in their positions within the company, the good employees will search for these opportunities elsewhere.

Now, this becomes tricky because not all of your employees can ultimately be promoted to management. There may be an occasion when an employee asks you whether they have a chance to become a manager and your answer will be no. Of course, not every employee has the aspirations to move to upper management. But, sometimes, even a promotion within a department to a shift supervisor, etc., can be very meaningful to a good employee. Most importantly, provide a work environment where your employees know that if they excel at their job there is inevitable opportunity for growth.

Developing your environment
Taking the steps I’ve outlined here should help you develop an environment that enables your employees to enjoy their time in the workplace – while fostering an atmosphere of growth and opportunity. As you construct a positive work environment, you’ll succeed in retaining the best employees and, in turn, build yourself a much stronger business overall.

Marty McGhie is VP finance/operations of Ferrari Color, a digital-imaging center with Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Sacramento locations. The company offers high-quality large- and grand-format photo, inkjet, fabric, and UV printing.

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