Seven Tips To Improve Employee Retention At Your Enterprise The key to achieving this boils down to one key mantra: putting people before the process. When a process is not people-friendly, we alter the process and become open to change.

By Hyther Nizam

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Employee retention is a crucial subject for businesses, especially in today's changing workplace dynamic. I have been with Zoho Corp for over 23 years. In my experience, employees stay when they experience fulfilment, which is created when a company identifies and nurtures talent, challenges them, and then recognizes and celebrates their efforts.

This year, Zoho Corp celebrates 25 years of operations, with over 9000 employees working remotely across continents. Looking back, the company has consistently put its people and work culture at the forefront of its growth strategy, managing to retain more than 1000 of its workforce for over a decade, of which 10% stayed for more than 20 years.

The key to achieving this boils down to one key mantra: putting people before the process. When a process is not people-friendly, we alter the process and become open to change. Zoho Corp capitalizes on its human resources, viewing them as the real asset of the company, rather than as financial capital. In doing so, the organization will do whatever it takes to retain its most valued capital.

This is just one of the many factors that explain how Zoho Corp managed to retain employees and maintain loyalty over the years. Here are seven tips on what works and what doesn't:

1. Establishing a horizontal organizational structure An organizational hierarchy is crucial in setting clearly defined roles for employees; a flat organization allows employees to freely approach managers and directors with whom they can communicate openly. Aside from simple hierarchies, there are many ways to diminish the communication barriers including reducing middle management, having frequent town hall meetings, and developing an empathetic approach.

2. Engaging in decision-making and setting company goals It is vital to not only convene your team for a yearly business update, but also engage their views and perspectives in an open discussion on what worked and what could be improved. Employees feel valued and heard, and in return put forward great ideas that propel the business. This can be achieved through a dedicated space -virtual or physical- for employees to express their ideas and opinions.

3. Micromanaging kills productivity A sure-fire way to lose employee morale is micromanagement. Employees feel pressured and uninspired because of excessive supervision, and managers soon grow weary of keeping up closely with their team members. It is a lose-lose strategy that hardly yields positive outcomes. On the other hand, showing trust, providing constructive feedback, and positive reinforcement ensures improved performance without compromising employee satisfaction.

Related: A Company's Goal Should Be To Nurture Inspirational Entrepreneurs (And Not Just Efficient Employees)

4. Training builds loyalty What companies often do is seek top talent with qualifications and credentials- understandably. Zoho takes a slightly different approach when it comes to hiring. Talent is everywhere, but what lacks is the opportunity and means to develop and upskill oneself. So, instead of hiring only from the "cream of the crop," Zoho takes passion-driven candidates who show a deep willingness to learn, and invests in their training and development, thus, instilling loyalty. The company established the Zoho Schools of Learning (ZSL) in India, a training program in which high school and diploma graduates are trained for 18 months before joining as full-time hires. Currently, around 10% of the company's total workforce is made of students who were hired through this program. There are future plans to expand the ZSL footprint across the MENA, to nurture untapped talents who will be future Zoho engineers, developers, and managers.

5. Adding playtime to work hours Work hours should not just be for work. In enjoying an hour for celebrating an achievement, team success, or merely as a team-building initiative, employees can associate good times with work time. The remote working dynamic should not make this strategy any less relevant. Infusing an hour or more a week for wellness team activities such as at-home yoga, workouts, or simple virtual team lunches goes to show a company cares.

6. Autonomy and flexibility are key This does not only pertain to allowing employees to work remotely, but also in giving them the freedom to work at their pace and with more flexibility in managing their time. It also entails allowing room for mistakes when experimenting with ideas by giving ownership of the tasks at hand.

7. Providing the tech resources Now, more than ever, investing in agile tech resources for seamless workplace collaboration and remote workforce management is almost inevitable, whether you are a large corporation or a small to medium enterprise. Employees must have the tools at their disposal to perform tasks efficiently and remain connected to their peers and subordinates. In 2020, Zoho Corp launched the Zoho Workplace software that combines collaboration, productivity, and communication tools, and integrates them into other business processes.

All in all, a company should be able to manage its people with a more laid-back approach that is driven by work flexibility and greater autonomy, while creating a positive work atmosphere that brings employee spirits up and makes them feel appreciated.

Related: Five Ways To Keep Your Employees Motivated

Hyther Nizam

President, MEA, at Zoho Corp

Hyther Nizam is President, MEA, at Zoho Corp.

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