Today, the average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times during their career. This is a far cry from the days where employees worked for a company for 40 years and got a gold watch with their pension. In this highly transient culture, is it possible to retain skilled employees for more than a few years?
Yes, if you give them what they’re really looking for. We’ve listed five of the best ways to attract and retain skilled employees below. Your challenge is to read them thoroughly, and then pick out at least one to implement this week in your company.
1. Provide upward momentum
A primary motivation of a highly skilled employee is career advancement. Skilled employees are that skilled because they’re ambitious. Ambitious employees have plans for their future and want to work for a company where they won’t be stuck in one position for five or more years.
If you want really skilled employees, your company will need to have a pay and promotion ladder on par with the employee’s value. Having this information on hand when a prospective employee is being interviewed will show them that your company cares about its employees’ futures.
2. Conduct ‘stay’ interviews
Many companies have a policy of conducting ‘exit’ interviews after an employee quits. The purpose of these interviews is to find out why the employee is leaving in hopes that the problem can be corrected before another employee quits.
Exit interviews are a good idea in theory, but leave much to be desired in practice. The two biggest problems with exit interviews are that they happen too late, and don’t necessarily get the desired information. During an exit interview is actually when employees are least likely to be honest with a company. The employee is already leaving, so they know that they won’t benefit from bringing up issues. Additionally, the employee could be worried about whether giving honest bad feedback could ruin their positive reference from this job.
If ‘exit’ interviews aren’t doing the trick, why not start conducting ‘stay’ interviews? Take one day a month and schedule time with your skilled employees to ask them how they’re doing and what they think of the job. Sample questions you could ask include:
Are you happy with your job here at the moment?
Is there anything you wish was different with your job title or duties?
Do you have any concerns about the company you’d like to bring up?
During this meeting, make sure the employee knows that being honest won’t get them in trouble. Additionally, you should be willing to be honest as well. If there’s no solution to the employee’s problem then tell them so. If there is a way to solve any issues, then you’ll have caught a problem that might have made your skilled employee quit before it was too late.
3. Consider offering a flexible work arrangement
Millennials responded to a recent survey on work preferences, and a surprising number would actually take a pay cut for a flexible work arrangement. Considering the financial state of many millennials, that’s extremely significant.
A ‘flexible arrangement’ usually means one of two things:
The employee is allowed to work remotely, or
The employee is allowed flexibility on the hours they start and end work (within reason).
The benefits of one or both of those two arrangements are too numerous to count. Employees who are given control over their work schedule feel more empowered. They are also able to handle life situations that come up with much more ease and less productivity lost. Finally, employees with a flexible arrangement know that their employer is placing a lot of trust in them and will generally work much harder to keep that trust.
4. Give sincere praise
Dale Carnegie famously said that the desire to feel important is as deep as the desire for food and water. People hunger for sincere appreciation and acknowledgment that what they do all day is important.
Unfortunately, most workplaces don’t realize this until it’s too late. It’s extremely common for employees to receive endless criticism when they make a mistake but nothing at all when they do exceptional work. If you want to get the loyalty of your highly skilled employees, take the time to give them sincere praise for their contributions.
5. Professional development
Highly skilled employees became that way because they’re ambitious and constantly improving their skills. These employees want to keep adding to their skill set and will look for companies who provide their employees with that opportunity. If you don’t provide opportunities for professional development, that’s a deterrent to most truly high caliber employees. On the other hand, if you invest in your people, they’ll invest in you.
In short, attracting and retaining highly skilled employees in today’s world is tough, but definitely possible with creativity and hard work. Leave a comment below telling us what strategy you’ll try in your company!