The Five Rs of Employee Retention

Topics: employee retention, boomerang recruiting

Posted by Lori Vrcan on May 31, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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In a perfect world, employee turnover would not be a problem. But as HR professionals can attest, the world is far from perfect. Turnover is expensive, hurts organizational growth and can negatively impact overall company performance. Although turnover is inevitable, it can be controlled – and that control is especially important when it comes to high-performing associates who are looking for greener pastures. That’s where the five Rs come in. A simple retention strategy? Perhaps. But when executed effectively, it can be a lifesaver.

Respect
You’ve heard it many times before: Treat others as you wish to be treated. And who among us does not want to be treated with respect? Respecting others means showing courtesy, kindness and empathy; listening, not just hearing, to what others have to say; appreciating each individual’s unique skills and talents; and enabling associates’ ideas to take root and grow as policy and procedure improvements.

What indicates disrespect? Making major changes without getting input from those who will be impacted, as well as berating associates, especially in front of co-workers (and yes, there is a big difference between constructive criticism and berating). It’s important for organizations to take stock of managers’ and employees’ interpersonal and communication skills. These soft skills can be culture builders or culture killers.


Responsibility
When you give associates meaningful responsibilities that makes an impact on organizational success, it is a definite morale booster. Everyone needs to feel a purpose and passion for what they do. When you give people “busy work,” it does the exact opposite. Associates should not have to be micromanaged. Instead, they should receive the training and support necessary to ensure that have the confidence and knowledge they need to perform the job at hand.

In addition, employees should also be provided with the freedom to take responsibility for the direction of their career paths (within reason, of course). There is no point in trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.


Rewards
Clearly, this is one of the major Rs. If you can’t compete with your competitors, turnover is likely. As the saying goes, “cash is king.” Being above the industry standard in compensation gives you a leg up on the competition, as do strong benefits, bonuses and performance raises. But what do you do if providing highly competitive compensation is not economically feasible for your organization? Switch to Plan B: provide great rewards that are not monetary.

Work/life balance is a highly valuable reward. You may be making the big bucks, but if you’re killing yourself in the process, it’s counterproductive. Building rapport among colleagues is also key. If you like the people you work with, you’re more likely to stay put. Flexible scheduling is another strong perk (when feasible). Life is not regimented, so why must your schedule be set in stone?

Take time for fun. Plan activities and engage in spur-of the-moment down time to keep associates refreshed and focused. Also, if possible, offer wellness, childcare and other benefits that show that you truly care about your employees.

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Real engagement
Employee engagement is a strong retention tool as long as you walk the talk. Your people should feel a real investment in the work they do and a connection to co-workers, as well as have accessibility to management and transparent, open communication throughout the organization. Build teams, eliminate silos, provide career mobility/advancement and help associates see their importance in the big picture of your organization.

Community engagement is also a plus in retaining your employees. Volunteer hours, fundraising activities, outreach to community youth, disaster relief, etc. help your employees make a satisfying connection to the community, as well as each other.

Re-recruiting (boomerang program)
One of your star performers has left and is working for one of your competitors. It happens. But is that the end of it? Not necessarily. In some cases, when employees leave they have great expectations for their new position, and those expectations may not be realized. As many people learn, the grass isn’t always greener and buyer’s regret can be a bitter pill to swallow.

That’s where a boomerang program comes in. The name is what it implies. Employees leave but then make a u-turn and come back to your organization with your prompting; it’s important that you make the first move. Set the stage early on in the process. When someone you would prefer to retain leaves, send them a thank you note for their years of service, dedication and importance to your organization. That communication sets the tone for the next step: a postcard or email inviting the person to consider rejoining the team after a few months. At times, former employees may feel awkward about making the first move toward returning to the fold. Your outreach can make all the difference.

Why you should embrace boomerangs

How to bring boomerangs back

Lori Vrcan

With more than 25 years of experience at NAS, Lori Vrcan, Senior Creative Strategist, has extensive knowledge and understanding of recruitment challenges and solutions. Her expertise includes interactive, print, video and radio projects across all disciplines, including several national award-winning campaigns.

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