Your best employees are a valuable asset that is not easily replaced. Their value may be noticed by other companies, too. Here are the top five ways to retain your top employees. 

1. Compensate Appropriately

Good workers deserve generous salaries – and also generous benefits and public recognition. Communicating your satisfaction with performance will go far to encourage your best employees to keep up the good work – and even improve upon it.

Some fields grow more quickly than others. Rather than grouping all employees in a regimented review-and-raise cycle, keep an eye on specialty fields (such as computer science) that may be growing more quickly than others. To retain your top employees in these fields, make sure you are keeping up with market rates of compensation.

2. Be Flexible

While not all employees have family responsibilities, a flexible, generous and understanding approach to those who do will help gain employee loyalty for the long term. Permitting employees to leave in case of emergency, telework or work flexible hours can benefit those who otherwise could not balance their home and work responsibilities. Allowing workers to decline overnight travel and making it easy for them to take vacations will also promote a healthy work-life balance. Finally, having generous and flexible paid paternity and maternity leave can help families adjust to a new member while making it clear that the company values parents as employees.

3. Train Managers

There is nothing more discouraging than spending time on a project only to be told, “That’s not what I had in mind.” Managers need to be experts in communicating expectations and setting deadlines and requirements. They also need to be approachable and available to clarify and answer questions as needed. Not all senior employees should be managers. Instead, managers should be chosen with care, based on communication and social skills rather than seniority.

Having managers act as mentors or coaches will also encourage career growth, teamwork and company loyalty among employees. Learning how to mentor and coach also requires training. It might be prudent to find formal training for managing and coaching outside of the company.

4. Be Creative with Benefits

It pays to be generous with traditional benefits such as vacation, health insurance, sick days, and professional development. Having a creative set of additional benefits – such as onsite gyms, half days on Fridays in the summer, free fruit and coffee, educational funds or student loan repayment benefits – can go a long way, too. Do you have an office full of employees with young families? Host regular family-friendly events or offer discounts at local venues. An office full of young professionals? Organize happy hours and kickball leagues. (See also: Job Hunting: Higher Pay Vs. Better Benefits.)

5. Promote a Positive Workplace

Regularly and publicly praising the achievements of high-performing employees and improvement in less-than-stellar workers will contribute to a motivated workforce. This requires continuous feedback from managers, but employees will succeed and be more satisfied with career guidance. Encouraging teamwork and cooperation, rather than competition, will also foster a healthy work environment where employees will not feel penalized for taking advantage of vacation time or flexible hours. Studies have shown that cooperation leads to higher productivity than competition, so promoting a culture of teamwork will benefit your bottom line, while simultaneously lowering stress and making the workplace a more pleasant place to spend time.

The Bottom Line

There are multiple ways to ensure your workplace is one where good employees will want to stay. Some approaches to increase retention focus on compensation and recognition, others focus on work culture, still others on leadership. What each employee needs or wants from work may vary, so to retain the best workers, managers should discuss with the employee his or her goals and priorities. (See also: What Makes a Great Workplace?)

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