5 Companies Tell Us How They Retain Their Best Talent

World Travel Holdings, Aetna, Intuit, Kaplan and Fitwall share their secrets.

learn more about Sara Sutton

By Sara Sutton

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The 2015 job market outlook is unequivocally positive. Even with a dip in February employment numbers from severe weather across the nation, the overall prospects for job seekers are the best they've been in over a decade, with job openings at their highest level in 14 years. That's why employers need to improve their old strategies to retain the best and brightest in their workforce.

With 5 million open jobs in the market, professionals -- even those who seem happily employed -- may be tempted to seek greener pastures in a new job. When looking at why people are leaving their jobs in 2015, the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey finds that "voluntary quits" are far outpacing layoffs. Fifty-eight percent of those leaving jobs right now are doing so voluntarily, compared with only 35 percent being laid off. From 2007 to 2011, these numbers were almost identical.

What does this mean for employers? Retaining your workforce will be harder this year but adopting new retention strategies can ensure your grass is just as green as what lays on the other side of the fence.

Related: How to Attract -- And Retain -- Staff When You Can't Pay Big Bucks

Representatives from five companies discuss the interesting ways they attract and retain employees.

Equip your teams to collaborate seamlessly from anywhere.

What is the daily experience of your typical employee when it comes to collaboration? Whether in the office or working remotely, communication delays, malfunctioning software and less-than-intuitive systems, leave employees feeling frustrated. Companies should focus on upgrading and streamlining communication processes to make collaboration fun, not frustrating.

Terilyn Monroe, director of global employee and community engagement at Inuit, says the goal of collaboration support should be "to foster high-performing teams by enabling them to collaborate from anywhere...increasing engagement and satisfaction."

Kaplan Test Prep's COO, Lorin Thomas-Tavel, recommends putting forth a "greater effort in fostering communication, developing and keeping teams connected and cultivating our culture. The effective use of technology is critical, as technology platforms, channels and tools serve as the underpinning for enabling these connections."

Focus on training and equipping your managers as coaches.

A common HR theory is that employees don't quit jobs or companies, they quit managers. How does your management team compare to your competitors? Having well-trained managers will go a long way towards retaining your best employees. Focus some of your retention efforts on helping managers be the kinds of leaders that people want to work hard for. This may be a shift from managing to coaching.

Related: Want Your Team to Perform Better? Try Positive Reinforcement.

"A manager shows someone how to do something, such as the day-to-day tasks for his job and a coach goes a step further to help an individual realize his full potential and maximize positive outcomes," says Clifton Harski, the director of training and national head coach at Fitwall and an Entrepreneur contributor. How does this help with retention? Says Harski, "People's self-worth is often derived from the importance of what they do for a living, and the ability to positively affect others is hugely important and rewarding."

Offer work-from-home options for your current employees.

Once viewed as a perk, remote work is becoming a normal way of doing business. With much of the Northeast still buried under snow, tornado season beginning in the South and hurricane season following shortly thereafter for the Atlantic states, working remotely is an emergency preparedness requirement for many companies. At the same time, from an employee's perspective, the option to work from home is a hugely desirable benefit. Data from Intuit found that 79 percent of full-time workers want to work from home at least part of the time. And in 2011, 59 percent of companies offered telework options to employees, up from 13 percent in 2006. That's a huge increase--is your company keeping up?

World Travel Holdings, a leading cruise company, allows a reported 70 percent of its employees to work from home full time. "We place a strong value on creating an environment where our employees can work from home, which has been instrumental in us being able to hire and retain top talent," says Debbie Fiorino, senior vice president of human resources. And healthcare company Aetna says, "Aetna has used telework to retain valuable employees for roughly 20 years."

As the balance of power in the job market shifts from companies to professionals, employers should proactively make changes within their companies that will directly impact, and improve, retention efforts. The cost of implementing these strategies is far less than the cost of replacing one of your top performers.

Related: You Need a Real Vacation (And So Do Your Employees)

Sara Sutton

CEO & Founder of FlexJobs

Sara Sutton is the CEO and founder of FlexJobs, an award-winning, innovative career website for telecommuting, flexible, freelance and part-time job listings, and founder of Remote.co, a one-stop resource for remote teams and companies, and the 1 Million for Work Flexibility initiative. She was named as a Young Global Leader (class of 2014) by the World Economic Forum for her work in technology and the employment fields. Sutton is a graduate of UC Berkeley and currently lives in Boulder, Colo. Sutton is also the creator of The TRaD Works Conference, dedicated to helping companies leverage the benefits of telecommuting, remote and distributed teams.

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