A business never wants to lose a good employee. Especially now, when it’s extremely challenging to find a suitable replacement. Throughout the second half of 2016, Florida’s unemployment rate remained under 5 percent. Which means empty positions aren’t easy to fill, especially in hot local industries like hospitality, health care and construction.
“The market is very competitive right now,” says Jamie Conley, a regional president for staffing agency Robert Half, who oversees the company’s operations in Fort Myers, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Jacksonville. “In Fort Myers we have thousands of companies looking for people on any given day. So retaining top talent is very important.”
A recent study conducted by Kronos Incorporated and Future Workplace found that 87 percent of the human resources leaders surveyed considered improved employee retention a critical or high priority over the next five years. “When you have a top performer leave a company, it leaves a big hole,” says Conley. “The cost of replacing someone far exceeds the cost of doing something a little extra to retain the person.”
What should business owners do to ensure their valued staff members stay put? Here are Conley’s top retention tips.
Give your employees a career track
Job stagnation can lead people to start looking at the job listings. “One of the top reasons people leave companies is they feel like they hit a ceiling,” says Conley.
Providing staff members with a clear career path helps them improve t heir skills and increase responsibilities—and helps keep them on your team. “I’m constantly sitting down with my employees on a quarterly basis, resetting or readjusting what their career track might be and seeing what they want,” says Conley.
Keep an eye on compensation
While pay isn’t the only factor that keeps an employee from jumping ship, it’s certainly a big one. An awareness of what similar positions pay elsewhere in the area is key. “Make sure you’re in line with the market and what your competitors are doing out there from a compensation standpoint,” says Conley.
Conley is seeing bonuses come back, something that had gone away during the Great Recession and the post-recession recovery years A recent report from Robert Half found that 75 percent of employers plan to increase wages in 2017, with 34 percent looking at variable/bonus pay. “As the market is getting more competitive, we’re seeing salaries go up and companies inserting those bonuses again, which goes a long way with the staff,” he says.
Getting creative with your benefits package can also help keep employees on board. Conley points to employers who pay for tuition for continuing education or help staff get needed certifications. “It not only attracts employees but also tells the people in the seats that the company is invested in their career,” he says.
“People are screaming from the mountain tops these days about work-life balance,” says Conley. The Robert Half report also found that for 79 percent of employees, flexible hours ranked as the family-friendly perk that would most affect their decision to join a company. By the same token, allowing employees to work from home periodically or giving them some flexibility with their schedules can help with retention. “I do see companies embracing technology to make that happen,” he says.
Understand that different generations want different things
What keeps a millennial (born 1981-1994) connected to a company might not matter as much to a Gen-Xer (born 1966-1980). “Millennials want to feel like they’re a part of the business, like they’re contributing and doing something meaningful,” says Conley. “When we hire that generation, we have to think as an employer how to tap into those desires. For Generation X, where you get the biggest bang for your buck are the thanks yous and pats on the back. Those types of things go a long way for that generation.”