How To Retain Employees in a Competitive Work Market

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A high turnover rate can be detrimental to your firm. Instead of focusing on growth, a firm with high turnover is bogged down looking for replacements for workers who leave in search of greener pastures. It can even be personally painful when your most valuable team members make an exit.

To avoid these problems, focus on retaining your employees.

How Does Your Compensation Structure Compare?

Before you can stand out, you need to research what other firms are offering their employees. If your competitors are paying their employees more, providing better bonuses, or providing a much less stressful work environment, you should take a page from their book. Two major complaints employees have is that they are overworked and underpaid. When employees feel this way, they will likely leave your firm or perform poorly if they stick around.

Don’t Place All the Focus on Compensation

Compensation does matter, but employees also value advancement potential, a stress-free work environment, and clear expectations. Other ways to improve morale include some of the following:

  • Write a clear job description. Keep employees from feeling as if they are unable to meet their expectations by clearly outlining what they need to do.
  • Provide a bonus structure that motivates employees. This benefits you as much as it drives your employees to perform. You can provide competitive compensation on the condition that they meet your expectations.
  • Consider a comprehensive benefits package. Some employees value benefits more than their salaries. Providing health insurance, a matching 401(k) plan, flextime, and the option to telecommute can retain employees who would otherwise look for these perks elsewhere. Competitive benefits packages are becoming more popular among law firms looking to retain their talent.
  • Implement a wellness program. Coming up with a wellness program will keep your employees in good health and let them know you care. Examples of wellness incentives offered by some well-known businesses include providing a monthly reimbursement allowance for services like nutritional counseling, training services, and massage therapy. Some businesses even provide 2–3 hours of paid workout time each week. If you have your doubts about the effectiveness of these programs, consider that healthy workers are happier, more productive, and more loyal.
  • Value skill development. Employees want to feel like they have advancement potential and that their contributions have merit. There is no greater way to convey this than to offer training programs or tuition reimbursement programs for those looking to continue their education.
  • Take a flexible approach. Flexibility goes a long way towards retaining employees as shown in a study by the Boston College Center for Work & Family. In this study, 80% of employees admitted that flexible work arrangements were the primary factor in their decisions to leave or stay. 76% of managers felt the same way. 70% of those managers and 87% of employees noticed that flexibility had a positive impact on productivity and work quality as well.
  • Don’t be stingy with vacation time. As more American workers suffer from physical and psychological stress due to long work weeks, European companies are testing out shorter work days. The data has shown that the added rest and relaxation results in massive productivity boosts. Therefore, making sure that your own employees have the ability to take the occasional getaway can have positive benefits as they will return fully rested with a clear mind.

Communication is Key to Understanding Your Employees

Do not estimate the effectiveness of what will retain employees when you can simply ask them. Many firms conduct exit interviews to determine what motivates their employees to search for opportunities elsewhere. But you can do much better than this. Prevent your favorite employee from turning their two weeks in by conducting stay interviews. These interviews will tell you what makes your valued employees stay around.

Here are some questions you might want to ask during one of these interviews.

  • What made you decide to come to work for this firm? Understanding your employees’ goals from the moment they arrived can help you accommodate their ambitions and keep them loyal.
  • What factors have influenced your decision to stay? This is an opportunity to determine where you have succeeded in your retention strategy so that you do not eliminate benefits that are critical to keeping your workers happy.
  • What would make you leave? Here is where you can detect any weaknesses in your strategy. Do workers feel they could earn more if they worked for someone else? Do they desire a more flexible work schedule? Is vacation a factor? How satisfied are they with their benefits package? If you find that they could be lured away with better benefits or more vacation time, strike preemptively by revamping your own benefit structure.
  • What would you change or improve about your work experience? When employees answer this question, they are revealing important information about their ideal work environment.

Before you conduct stay interviews, you need to prepare yourself to act on the information you receive. Your perception of your employees’ satisfaction may vary from reality and the entire purpose of these interviews is to obtain information that you can act on to improve retention.

The Small Things Matter

Finally, consider how important tiny gestures can be to your employees. Providing that free breakfast on Monday or offer free dry cleaning pickup once a week. Anything that can enrich an employee’s day will ultimately result in higher productivity and satisfaction, even if you believe it is miniscule. When considering the small things, it is also important to consider how flexible you are with your workers.

Retaining talent requires providing a combination of incentives, benefits, and perks that will make your employees glad to stick around, but it is important that you are on the same page about which of these incentives your employees value. If you are experiencing a revolving door at your firm, the first step you can take is to listen to your workers and use their feedback to make your firm a more attractive place to work.

Featured image: “ Retain written on a wooden cube in front of a laptop” from Shutterstock.

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