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3 ways you can win your employees for life

3 ways you can win your employees for life

If you’re reading this article, I’m assuming you already know how valuable and important it is to retain your employees. It can be costly losing great people.

The question is, how do you keep hold of them forever?

People are complex and always seeking more. In many cases, there’s not always the chance for more, especially when you’ve got a small budget. It can be frustrating!

Combatting the risk of losing people, managing costs, and avoiding just throwing money at your employees to keep them can be difficult to balance for even the most seasoned of leaders. It’s no surprise that it’s one of the biggest pain points our clients want to solve.

At POD HR and Training, we know every company is different, as well as every employee. We work with leaders to understand their specific team and find new ways to engage and motivate them on an individual level. What works for one company may not work for another, so we wanted to show you the common reasons for losing employees and our techniques to understand the best ways to keep all of your employees engaged.

We’ve also made sure they’re all cost effective, so you don’t need to worry about finding even more scope in your budget!

employees talking to customers happily over headsets

How to keep employees for life?

We all know that things in business can change in an instant. In fact, keeping anything in life can take a lot of effort.

Relationships, friendships, family connections, the list goes on. Everything that you want to keep can require nurturing to keep it fresh and fulfilling.

The same principles can be applied to your employees. If you want them to stick around, your relationship has to be nurtured into something special. You need to weather the storms together and get through the ups and downs using mutual respect, appreciation, and fulfilment of each other’s needs.

That’s the only way for the employer-employee relationship to be long lasting. If their fundamental needs are met consistently.

Aside from the terms you agree at the beginning of the employment and the physical contract, there’s an unwritten psychological contract.

A psychological contract is based on expectations that create a balance of give and take, such as:

  •       An Employer gives a salary and wants hard work and commitment in return.
  •       An Employee goes above and beyond and wants to feel valued and appreciated.
  •       In the majority of cases, employees leave because of a breach in the psychological contract.

Here are some common breaches that will open up the risk of losing people:

  •       A lack of accountability and consistency: One rule for one and not for others.
  •       Ignorance: Not noticing or being grateful when employees give over and above what is contractually expected.
  •       Unbalanced: When you expect employees to stay late and help you out without giving them some flexibility for family or personal reasons.
  •       Making promises you don’t keep.
  •       Breaking trust: Dishonesty or hidden agendas
  •       Blame culture: Judging employees and giving them criticism without knowing the facts and getting their view.
  •       Changing targets: Dangling a carrot and changing the goal posts.
  •       Always outsourcing: Making recruitment decisions that do not give fair opportunity for people to progress internally.
  •       Favouritism: Be seen to be rewarding bad habits and penalising hard working people .

I could go on! Risks for losing employees can be found almost everywhere within a business if you’re not careful.

You might be keen to get straight to the tips for improvement. Me too. This is my favourite bit – helping businesses to avoid mistakes! Let’s go for it.

Here are your 3 tips to keep your employees for life:

employees sat together in a line laughing and enjoying work

1.    Understand your employee needs

For a relationship to work, you need to understand what people want, need, and expect.

This is a theme that needs to run through all of your interactions with your employees. If you keep in touch with this, you’ll know how to keep them for life.

As I’m sure you know, over time needs and aspirations can change. Knowing what they needed once won’t do the job.

You need to stay close to how their needs and expectations evolve. This starts before you even recruit them!

During the interview, ask them.

Often people will adapt in order to impress you. You need to tackle this head on.

Say something like…

‘Having a fulfilling career will only happen if your employer knows what you want and need to be engaged and happy. We’re keen to know what you want out of this role so that we can look out for you and check that we’re right for you, as much as we consider if you’re right for us. What you need matters.

So, tell us, what’s important to you about your career?

What happens when you’ve been doing this job a while, how will you feel? What will you need to stay interested?

What would a company have to do / be to keep hold of you for a life-long career?’

When you understand this from the start, you can recruit people that you know you can satisfy. You’ll know where you stand.

This doesn’t mean that if someone wants progression and you don’t see that happening right now that you don’t choose them. Of course not! It means considering whether they’re talented and whether you could meet their need for progression in a creative way that adds value to your business?

It has to be a win-win, but the more creative you are in meeting needs, the more of your workforce you will keep long term. I’ll come back to that later.

So we’ve talked about finding out what’s important during the interview. Following on from that, you need to cover this again during inductions, 121’s, probationary reviews, regular performance reviews, and formal appraisals.

At every touch point of the employee journey, re-visit what they need and how closely you’re fulfilling their needs at the time. If anything is missing, what is it?

What do you need to do to bridge any gaps?

The more you care about what they want and need, the more likely they’ll understand that it’s in their best interests to stay with you rather than disappear off elsewhere where they are walking into the unknown.

It’s incredibly powerful. They’ll feel important when you genuinely care about what matters to them.

When they feel important, their self-worth increases. They’ll feel like they’re a key player in the organisation, instead of being the newbie elsewhere.

That’s it for point number one. Understand their needs.

employees collaborating on a project and having fun

2.    Leave nothing unsaid

Communication is everything.

Seriously. It can be a help or a hindrance and it’s entirely under your control.

It all starts with you.

If communication breaks down, employees are likely to lose confidence either in you or the company. That’s when mistakes happen.

There’s vast amounts of communication needed in an organisation for maximum efficiency.

Aside from team and departmental relationships, you need to communicate with your employees:

Frequently.

Honestly.

Sincerely.

If you leave important things unsaid, I promise you this will niggle away. Small things become huge and guess what; either you or the employee decides enough is enough.

How can you expect employees to know what success looks like if you don’t tell them???

Communication and feedback is vital if you want to keep hold of your employees. Especially the good ones.

Anyone in leadership positions within your organisation needs the ability to deliver feedback effectively. This is so vital we include it in every leadership training session that we run. It’s not an exaggeration when I say it’s business critical.

By using effective feedback you can make sure nothing gets left unsaid from either side. This means that you’re always getting better and your employees are always getting better. Every time you communicate well, you’re nurturing the relationship and improving your chances of keeping them for life.

Communication is a massive subject. It’s far too big to write about in this article alone! If you’d like to find out more about communication techniques for leaders you can find out more here. 

For now, I want to encourage you to express yourself. Frequently, honestly, and as sincerely as you can manage.

Make meaningful conversations so that your employee never has to try and guess where they stand with you.

Because when they don’t know, they will be making their own conclusions. With that I have no doubt. I’ve seen it happen enough times to know it’s an inevitable outcome. Employees don’t know how valued they are and they leave.

Recruiting all over again and training is far from ideal so I cannot emphasise this point enough: Don’t sweep important thoughts under the carpet.

ALWAYS tell them what you want and need and always find time to ask them. Give them chances to communicate with you.

This can be achieved in various ways, the most obvious being through regular performance reviews or 121s.

I’d always advise that you have a system in place so that if an employee has something important they want to discuss that can’t wait for a 121, you can make the time for them.

Making this time for them speaks volumes. It makes them feel significant and supported. It will encourage them to communicate honestly with you and get things off their chest.

If it’s niggling away it will end up in a resignation somewhere down the line.

As soon as you give them a platform to tell you what they think you’ll be amazed at the amount of power that has.

Expression is deceptively important to us as human beings. You don’t realise how much it affects you until you don’t have that outlet. Help them to feel comfortable enough to express themselves and they will feel human, allowing you to have a deeper connection.

Don’t leave anything unsaid. You will lose them.

employees working together and smiling

3.    Create career paths

If employees feel stuck and limited in what they can achieve, their mind will start wondering ‘What if…?’.

Just because you don’t currently have a higher job available for someone it doesn’t mean that you can’t give them a chance to expand on their duties, apply new skills, and learn new tasks that provide fresh challenge.

Keeping it fresh doesn’t always mean a bigger job and pay packet. It can simply mean new projects, new challenges.

When I work with leaders, I always encourage them to be creative with this. If they’re serious about keeping people for life then the key is being versatile as employee needs change.

Think about what you need to improve within your organisation and what will add value.

Then consider what the employee wants and needs and look for how the pieces of the jigsaw could fit together to create a new idea.

If you want to keep people for life, they need to know from the start that you’ll create careers for them.  They may not be aware of what’s possible and therefore there is a risk that they may be short sighted.  If they don’t see a way forward, they will look elsewhere.

You need to spell it out from day 1 that even if a position doesn’t exist, it doesn’t mean it cannot be created if there is the right business case for it.

Show them that commitment and high performance is rewarded with development opportunities and this will go a long way to keeping them for life. Not only will it stop them getting bored in their current role, but it’ll also help stop them being tempted by more alluring job titles and opportunities elsewhere.

The great thing about this is it’s far more effective if you include them. This means you don’t even need to necessarily put in the hard work of creating a position out of thin air.

Ask for their ideas on how the business can move forward with them and what skills they could offer to achieving that. Get their input on their vision and how they see it working out. If they’ve come up with it themselves then they will be more likely to be excited about it and put more effort into it.

Include discussions in all performance reviews about progression and what they see for themselves in the future. This gives them a chance to feel they’re moving forward rather than being stuck in the same job.

You’d be surprised at how important that is. Even if employees don’t want promotion or responsibility it doesn’t mean they don’t have desires for movement; either in pay or skill-set.

Keep communicating and be creative.

employees high fiving after a successful meeting

Well, there you have it!

3 tips to help you keep your employees for life, without having to invest in anything but time!

This is a subject I am really passionate about so I am ALWAYS happy to answer questions on this. Let me know if you’d like to find out more by emailing me directly at natalie@podhr.co.uk. Don’t worry – we don’t charge for the consultation period so you’ll get free advice whether you choose to invest in our services or whether you implement our advice yourself.

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