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Employee Retention: Engagement Through Opportunity

Keeping good employees is no doubt complex. Avoiding a letter of resignation often requires blocking and tackling by managers, HR and executive leadership. Last week, I talked about whether learning and development is more important to employee retention than pay. This week, I talk about how focusing on engagement through opportunity can help keep good talent from looking. Here are a couple of ideas on how to retain your employees:

1. Utilize non-monetary means to reward employees.

Develop a first-in-class, ongoing communication plan to help employees understand ancillary benefits and keep talking about them as a reminder of the organization’s investment in employees. In PayScale’s 2016 Compensation Best Practices Report, 47 percent of top-performing companies provided a total rewards statement. #hellototalrewards

2. Build engagement loyalty through learning and development.

Partner with the Learning and Development team and find out what opportunities can be leveraged. This should not be busywork — it should be meaningful to both the employee and the organization. Set milestones, give timely feedback, and have actual conversations that keep employees on the path and help them build their personal net worth. Employees who feel like their company is invested in their development are generally more engaged. #mycompanylovesme

3. Retention spend should be a last resort — and reserved for top talent.

Don’t spend unnecessary budget dollars on a warm body who is going to perfect their resume and interview shtick over the next 90 days and leave anyway. If you must make the bonus play, make sure it’s on someone who is essential to your team. Employees watch each other; if you give a retention bonus, others will try and follow suit. Make sure your retention spend is for good reason, otherwise you will have a small herd asking for their “one-time adjustment.” #budgetblown

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4. Promote employees who are promotable, not those who are trying to exit.

Employees can be so over-promoted that there is no real authenticity in a career path. When everyone’s a vice president, who signs the checks? I love Tracy Maylett’s article in Entrepreneur, Where Have All the Good Employees Gone? Oops, You Promoted Them. His four points on how and when to promote are on point. These are some great ways to keep the entitlement attitude at bay, and to keep from overpaying for sub-par talent. #noteveryonesamanager

Most employers look at learning and development as an expense only. I would argue that it can be considered an investment in employees, from an employee satisfaction and turnover perspective, if leveraged appropriately. It can certainly allow leaders to utilize their compensation budget more creatively, reward top talent more effectively and perhaps keep them much longer.

Brooke Birdsong
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