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When Your Goal Is Talent Retention, These Ingredients Make up the Only 'Recipe' You Need

Mentorship, compensation and transparency are some of the strategy items you'll need to stock in your pantry.

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Talent retention is difficult for most employers; in fact, a lot of them don't even have a retention plan. Marlin Hawk's Talent Retention and Poaching study from October 2016 found that fully 41 percent of the 400 HR professionals surveyed didn't have formal retention strategies in place.


Related: 4 Smart Ways to Increase Employee Retention

To create one, your best approach will be to consider the employee experience. In the same way that everyone has a favorite dish to look forward to over the upcoming holidays, each employee has his or her specific, professional palette that employers should cater to, when that's reasonable.

The resulting "recipe for talent retention" doesn't have to be complicated. All it takes is a handful of simple, but impactful, ingredients.

Here are the ingredients for the perfect recipe for employers who want to use the employee experience to improve retention:

1. A dash of mentorship

Onboarding is essential to starting off on the right foot. Employees want to develop a trusting, respectful relationship with their new employer. Unfortunately, most companies struggle to develop an engaging, meaningful onboarding experience.

ADP's Evolution of Work study of 2,000 participants from December 2015 found that 91 percent of managers, 81 percent of HR administrators and 75 percent of employers surveyed said they believed their organizations did not do onboarding well. So, how can employers make the transition easier for new hires?

One answer is that employees need a friend to help them when they start. Day one often causes stress and pressure on new hires. So, offer mentorships to them give them support. A one-on-one relationship is helpful because it builds a special rapport between peers.

Also, look for where to make improvements. Measure the quality of your company's onboarding to get an accurate understanding of how well it helps assimilate a person into the culture and his or her new role.

One of the best ways to learn about the quality of onboarding is to conduct a 90-day evaluation and ask for feedback from both the new hire and the mentor. Get an idea of how well these individuals are fitting into the office community and understanding their goals; determine whether or not they've been equipped with the resources they need for success.

Related: This is the Truth Behind Employees and Meaningful Work

2. One cup of compensation

For most people, a new job is not all about the money, but that's certainly important. Employees have the tools they need to understand their value, and they want to be compensated fairly for their work.

Research salaries in the area and industry to see how well your company's offer stacks up against that of other employers. Offer competitive benefits like flexible work options and unlimited PTO, not to just attract the right talent, but to retain them.

For positions that demand commission or quarterly bonuses, it's best to keep these details plain and simple. Employers should be able to lay out their incentives in a few sentences. Don't overcomplicate it. Make each position's details consistent and easy to understand.

Also, reward top performers with merit increases so they stay motivated to maintain strong performance. When employees see this, they will push themselves harder to improve their productivity.

It's crucial to show appreciation and recognize employees. Implement an employee-recognition program that uses non-financial rewards to build morale and teamwork. Step into the shoes of the staff. What makes them feel recognized and valued? Use that as a point of reference when considering alternative compensation.

3. A dollop of transparency

Employees hate feeling stuck. When they stagnate, they start looking for better opportunities. Unfortunately, this feeling is all too common. TINYpulse's The Era of Personal & Peer Accountability report from 2015 found that over 70 percent of 400,000 employees surveyed didn't see themselves meeting their full potential.

Employees need to speak up when they feel that they're being underutilized. Create a transparent culture so they can offer feedback and feel comfortable expressing their ambitions to leaders. Otherwise, if they can't voice their opinion and share their vision, they won't feel welcome to grow.

Employees want a voice. For example, if they feel that they aren't reaching their potential, they should be able to speak up and ask for learning opportunities. Leaders should proactively address growth opportunities with the best of the best on a regular basis.

4. Fold in goals

Employees without direction and development are more likely to jump ship. Some of them want to venture out of their comfort zones. Others are scared to.

Management needs to step in and encourage employees to set goals and build their strengths. Collaborate with them to set goals and guide them with professional development opportunities.

Help them define goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely). Emphasize your company's large-scale organizational goals, then cascade those down each level of the employee ladder to demonstrate how these individuals' success contributes to company growth.

Related: Is Employee Feedback Missing at Your Company? Here's Why and How to Fix It.

Align employee goals with the big picture. This way, employees can see their role in the big picture and be more engaged and motivated in their day-to-day.

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