Episode #20 – Simple Steps for Retaining Your Best Employees

Simple Steps for Retaining Your Best Employees

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help organizations acquire top talent, while helping professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about simple steps for retaining your best employees. Stacy, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, I’m glad to be here.

Sharita: As a recruiter for more than 20 years, you’ve helped hundreds of professionals find new jobs with other organizations. On the flip side of that, you help organizations find the talented people they want to hire. But there’s another dimension involved with how you help companies. What is that dimension?

Stacy: It’s retention, or an organization’s ability to keep its employees, especially its best employees.

Sharita: You’re certified as a recruiter. You have something called a CPC, is that right?

Stacy: Yes, that stands for Certified Personnel Consultant. It’s one of the certifications for the recruiting industry.

Sharita: But you also hold a certification called CERS. What does that stand for?

Stacy: That stands for Certified Employee Retention Specialist.

Sharita: Now correct me if I’m wrong, but not all recruiters hold a CPC.

Stacy: That’s correct. In fact, the majority of recruiters do not hold a CPC and even fewer hold the CERS. You have to hold the CPC before you can pursue the CERS.

Sharita: Let’s talk about the CERS for just a minute. Does that mean you have a certification or a specialty in terms of the knowledge it takes to retain employees?

Stacy: That’s right. A recruiter should do more than just help a company find new employees and help professionals find new employment opportunities. A recruiter should try to serve as a consultant for both organizations and professionals. One of the ways that a recruiter does that is by advising companies on the most effective ways to retain their best employees.

Sharita: So not only have you pursued a certification in that area, but you’ve also witnessed how companies retain employees during your career. Actually, you’ve also witnessed how companies do not successfully retain their employees.

Stacy: That’s right. I’ve seen just about everything that companies can do both right and wrong when it comes to retaining employees.

Sharita: Why is retaining employees so important right now?

Stacy: Well, as we’ve discussed on a couple of occasions, this is a candidates’ market. That means professionals, especially top professionals, have a lot of options in regards to their career. Their services are very much in demand.

So if their current employer isn’t doing what’s necessary to keep them, then they’re likely to start looking elsewhere. They aren’t just “happy to have a job.” They want more than a job. They want a great career.

Sharita: I’ve heard that the Millennial Generation is also likely to change jobs more often than previous generations. Is that true?

Stacy: It is! According to a 2016 study by LinkedIn, Millennials typically “jump jobs” four times during their first decade out of college.

We’ve discussed this before on our podcast, but people who change jobs every three to five years often earn more in compensation and benefits than people who stay at the same employer for 10 to 15 years. That’s because employers must entice professionals they want to hire with more money, compensation, and other benefits.

So with all of this in mind, are top candidates more eager to “jump ship” these days? The answer to that question would seem to be “Yes!”

Sharita: What can employers do to help retain their best employees?

Stacy: Well, there are a LOT of things that organizations can do, but today I want to talk about some simple ways that they can retain employees. Effective retention does not have to be a complicated thing. There are simple things that companies can do. Unfortunately, some organizations overlook these things.

Sharita: What are some of those things?

Stacy: The first thing I’d like to discuss is based on a recent study by Appirio, an information technology consulting company based in Indianapolis. As part of that study, the company asked workers to reflect upon the qualities of their worst bosses. The top two responses were:

1. Never gave credit where credit was due at 32%
2. Rarely gave verbal praise or support at 28%

Combine those two responses, and that’s 60% of workers who indicated that their worst bosses did not appreciate them or their work in one way or another.

Sharita: So what professionals really want is to be appreciated.

Stacy: That’s right, but the study didn’t stop there. The company’s survey also asked what workers would care about the most if they were interviewing at a new company. Once again, the top two responses were:

1. Whether people felt appreciated at 60%
2. How the rest of the team felt about my would-be boss at 27%

Sharita: So it’s pretty much the same thing?

Stacy: That’s right, the correlation is unmistakable. A combined 60% of respondents indicated that their worst boss either “never gave credit where credit was due” or “rarely gave verbal praise or support.” Then 60% of respondents chose “whether people felt appreciated” as the thing they would care about most when interviewing with a new company.

So it follows that the #1 thing that an organization can do to retain its best employees is to say “Thank you” and to show appreciation. And doing that really isn’t that complicated.

Sharita: It would make sense that if a company is going to show appreciation, they should show it to their best employees. After all, they’re the employees that are the most valuable.

Stacy: That’s absolutely right! Those are the employees who are working the hardest, being the most productive, and providing the most value to the organization, especially in terms of the bottom line.

Sharita: That certainly does seem like a very simple thing that companies can do to retain their best employees. What other things can they do?

Stacy: The next thing they can do is based upon two truths.

1. First, organizations should know their employees’ career goals and ambitions, especially those employees they value the most and who contribute the most to the organization.
2. Second, those same organizations should take a proactive approach in helping their employees achieve those goals.

The reasons for these truths is this: People leave their employers because they believe those employers do not care about their careers. Or perhaps it would be better to frame this statement in another way:

People leave their employers because of the perception that those employers do not care about their careers.

Sharita: So what can organizations do to show that they care about their employees’ careers, especially their top performers?

Stacy: Well, as you can imagine, employees rarely just walk into their boss’s office and start talking about their long-term career goals. That’s why employers must be proactive in what they do and how they do it.

The first thing an employer should do is meet individually with top employees.

This is time-consuming, but it’s also necessary if you want to decrease the chances that one of those employees is going to leave. First, broach the subject and get them to open up. Then, once they have, brainstorm ways that the company can help them achieve their career goals.

Second, help the employee put together a plan of action.

Your brainstorming session should lead to a concrete plan. Don’t be vague or general. Talking in terms of specifics will convey to the employee that you’re serious about the plan and about their career.

Third, carry out the plan with the employee.

While you might be wondering where you’re going to find the time to do this, think about where you would be without your top employees. This is an investment not only in them, but also in the future of the organization. Giving your time and attention will make them feel more wanted, which will convince them to stay with your organization.

With this plan and exercise, what you’re doing is cultivating loyalty with your employees. When you’re able to do that, those employees are less likely to leave.

Sharita: It would seem these meetings would also help a company find out if their top employees are unhappy at all.

Stacy: Yes, and if they find out that one of their A-players is not satisfied, they need to find out why that’s the case and take whatever steps are necessary to make things right. And they should consider themselves lucky that they found out in time.

Sharita: What are some specific things that employers can do to show appreciation to their top employees?

Stacy: Employers should always compliment good performance, and it does not have to be elaborate. In addition, it can be verbal or non-verbal. Send an email, shake a hand, pat a back . . . whatever will express your appreciation.

Sharita: Should an employer show appreciation in secret or out in the open?

Stacy: It depends on the situation. For smaller accomplishments, an email or a pat on the back is just fine. However, if an individual employee has done something significant, then rewarding them publicly, in front of their peers, is more appropriate. Once again, this does not have to be elaborate. It can be just a verbal recognition for a job well done during a regular staff meeting.

And if the employee’s performance merits it, you can always reward them in a more tangible fashion. This can include a plaque, a trophy, a gift card, or something similar.

Sharita: What about the employees who are not considered to be top performers? There are A-level people, but what about B-level people? They’re still considered valuable, right?

Stacy: They are, and they should be rewarded for performance, as well. As far as everybody in the organization, you can reward them by creating a more fun work environment. You can hold a “food day” or a pizza party for having met team goals or allow employees to dress up for a holiday. The more fun you make the environment and the company culture, the more satisfied ALL employees will be.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!