10 Tips for Retaining Top Talent

Planning for shorter employee tenures is the new normal.

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By Harry West


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We're living in a time where company loyalty doesn't mean what it used to. Millennial workers have a reputation for moving from job to job, being constantly on the lookout for the next best thing. Businesses have realized that they must promote their workplace as an ideal location for top talent to do great work -- and that even when workers transition from full-time employment, they can still be an advocate for the company's brand. Planning for shorter employee tenures is the new normal.

This doesn't mean that retention of key talent isn't still critical. When it comes to employee retention, tech companies have some of the highest turnover rates of any industry. Retaining top talent is a struggle for many businesses, but there are several things you can do to increase the likelihood of your young, talented tech team sticking around a little longer than average.

Keep reading for 10 helpful tips on how to retain top talent today.

1. Encourage flexibility.

Today's workers want mobility and flexibility in the workplace. Gone are the days of strict 9-to-5 hours. In their place are remote working options, flexible hours, sabbaticals and fluid PTO policies. Flexible workers are not only happier; they're more productive. Allow your employees the mobility they desire and they'll likely stick around longer and have a more positive impact on your business.

Related: Why Entrepreneurs Should Prefer Remote Teams Than Ones In-House

2. Level up your employee engagement strategy.

Only about 33 percent of new employees are fully engaged in their new role. That's a disappointing statistic considering the great lengths many companies take to try and create a positive onboarding experience and ensure open, frequent communication. Invest time and money in developing the right strategy and implementing the right technology to ensure your engagement is both up-to-date and impactful.

Emerging trends in employee engagement include collaborative software that prevents managers from wielding power by selectively withholding information and complete transformation of day-to-day processes such as bad email habits.

3. Create an enticing program for recent college grads.

An impressive 77 percent of students stay at their first job for less than one year. In an effort to remedy this issue, many tech companies are creating and implementing programs to nurture student talent.

Some organizations offer long-term fellowships to provide students with immersion opportunities at various departments throughout a company, while other organizations create short-term intensive programs that offer recent grads an opportunity to fine-tune their business skills and learn how to lead.

4. Ensure your onboarding processes are as streamlined as possible.

Seventy percent of workers say they are more likely to stay at their new company for three years or more if they experienced a favorable application process. The application process is the first critical touch point you have with your future workers. By making the process as smooth, quick and painless as possible, you'll be sending a message of efficiency and straightforwardness to your talent.

Once you've brought a new employee on board, the hiring process is not over. Ensuring your employees have a positive, engaging onboarding experience is just as important as making sure your application process goes well. If typical worker tenures are getting shorter and shorter, it's not acceptable to require one to two years for people to get acclimated to their work environment anymore. The onboarding process is your first impression with a new employee. You want to put your best foot forward, and get them fully productive quickly.

Related: 6 Steps to Create an Effective Employee Onboarding Experience

5. Provide frequent constructive criticism and praise.

Negative criticism can kill motivation in even the most productive of workers. There is a time and place for constructive criticism, but be wary of how you present it and communicate it to your employees. Year-end reviews are too often a rushed and ingenuine process. Consider revamping or replacing your year-end reviews with a more direct and honest way of communicating. Consistent, in-person, one-on-one meetings are a great way to provide your talent with constructive criticism, feedback, advice and praise.

6. Invest in the consumer-grade tools and technology for all of your employees.

One of the top complaints today's workers have is outdated hardware and technology that creates redundancies and inefficiencies in their work flow. Not only does faulty tech slow down your employees, it sends the message that your business isn't interested in staying up to date with the latest, automated tools. Show your employees that you care about them and their ability to do their jobs well by arming them with tools and technology delivered through multi-tenant, public cloud systems -- the ones that do the best job of keeping current with consumer-grade standards.

7. Eliminate unnecessary barriers in the workplace.

Workers spend an average of four hours per week simply searching for the right information. This is not only frustrating, but a poor use of their time. Eliminate unnecessary barriers to information within the workplace by arming your employees with the right tools, devices and access.

Tie business metrics to business outcomes in a way that helps tell a story, and provide decision-makers in the business with proactive insights that will help them be more effective and intentional in their jobs.

8. Offer opportunities for professional development and continuing education.

Keep your employees updated, and make sure they're fully aware of the different certification, training and education options available to them. To encourage employees to take advantage of additional education programs, many organizations offer partial or complete tuition reimbursement and/or time off work to complete courses and schooling.

Providing your workers with consistent access to professional development opportunities will create an environment where education and learning are valued.

Related: Focus on Education and Training to Retain Your Workforce

9. Create bi-directional channels to engage with employee feedback.

Communication is the root of many employee frustrations. Make sure your business is creating channels for honest, specific feedback from and to your employees and taking advantage of ways to provide praise and constructive criticism in real time. Top-down communication can quickly become messy and convoluted. Instead, focus on direct, one-on-one conversations when possible. And provide digital spaces like employee communities to allow workers to come together and solve issues without management always being in the middle.

10. Continue to nurture your employer advocates.

If your business does a good job retaining its employees, you'll eventually develop employer advocates who become positive internal influences and community champions for your organization. Your work retaining these employees is not over, however.

Continue to nurture and support these assets to your business by offering them ongoing opportunities for professional growth and development, continuing to provide constructive feedback and showing them that their opinions and efforts are heard and valued.

Harry West

Vice President of Services Product Management, Appirio

Harry West is the Vice President of Services Product Management at Appirio, a professional services firm based in Indianapolis. Harry focuses on defining and delivering new offerings that allow Appirio to blend traditional consulting as well as Crowdsourcing to create breakthrough results for clients seeking a better way of enabling world-class worker and customer experiences.

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