9 Tactics to Retain Your Top-Performing Employees (and Defeat the Great Resignation)
Instead of approaching the increase in resignations as an insurmountable problem, employers and leaders should look at this as a unique opportunity to re-assess, re-engage and redefine by using these tactics.
I believe the pandemic and the time we spent working remotely contributed greatly to the increase in resignations. People were able to assess their work-life balance in a way never before possible. Additionally, assistance from the government — while needed in most cases — allowed for more risk-taking, which has had its positives and negatives.
In fact, according to some estimates, over 4 million workers per month are quitting their jobs — a phenomenon that's disrupting businesses everywhere. While companies and leaders are trying to address the problem, many will continue to struggle, because they don't understand why their employees are leaving in the first place.
One survey found that the majority of workers who quit their job in 2021 pointed to low pay, no opportunities for advancement and feeling disrespected. Instead of approaching the increase in resignations as an insurmountable problem, employers and leaders should look at this as a unique opportunity to re-assess, re-engage, redefine, and adjust direction (if needed) by using the following tactics:
1. Start by hiring the right people
The entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk once said, "Hiring is guessing." There's a certain amount of validity in that statement. However, I have found that hiring a person who aligns with your organization's core values and is a strong cultural fit typically leads to long-lasting, mutually beneficial hires.
By hiring to culture and to values that we hold extremely important, you build a team that can work together, and employees who feel valued and share values with the company they work for, will be more likely to stay. Quick or bad hiring practices will absolutely leave you in a situation where you will be subject to more resignations.
2. Show genuine appreciation
Research from McKinsey suggests that employees want there to be more employer investment in the human aspects of work. While they, of course, seek sufficient pay, benefits and perks, survey data shows that they want to feel valued by their managers and their company.
How do you show appreciation? If the team you lead is working hard on a challenging project, send personalized "thank-you" gifts to each team member. While employees like bonuses, the key is linking the gift with genuine appreciation. If people are feeling burned out, close down the office for an unplug-and-recharge day.
At Twinlab Consolidated Corporation, we select and recognize one of our team members as our Employee of the Month, we call out work anniversaries and celebrate special personal moments (e.g., baby showers and birthdays). We also sponsor quarterly outings, have department lunches and get-togethers, host an annual holiday party and a summer BBQ, and we look for charities that we can get involved in that are important to our employees.
Over time, we have created a family atmosphere where we win and lose as a team. In times like this, having that sort of structure and care goes a long way in retaining your people.
3. Offer professional development
Professional development and training are important, too. Webinars, seminars and management coaching are all tools we have used and have found to be effective in showing team members they are valued.
Supporting training not only enhances that person's value within our company, but also their own career marketability. If someone does decide to move on, we are okay with having supported that person's ability to create a more rewarding career for themselves.
That being said, we do all we can to make staying with us more attractive than moving on. If you show your employees you care, you will get more productivity and higher retention levels.
4. Don't be stingy with pay and benefits
Offering competitive salaries and benefits packages gives you a fighting chance to land and retain top-performing employees. I believe in bonus plans, annual benefits and compensation reviews. These practices ensure your top talent feels appreciated.
What my leadership team and I have come to realize over the last two years is that today's job applicants consider work-life balance just as important as (or in some cases, even more important than) a competitive salary or benefits package.
5. Give top performers stimulating and high-visibility assignments
I have found that top performers possess a competitive nature that brings out their very best in pressure-packed situations.
It's no coincidence that several members of our staff and leadership team are former NCAA Division I, II and III athletes; it's one of the minor details that has helped transform our company from a scrappy startup into a nimble, profitable organization in a short period of time. The expression in sports is to let the big dogs eat. We absolutely believe in this philosophy. In addition to being competitive, top performers tend to get bored if they're not challenged regularly.
6. Offer work-life balance and flexibility
We absolutely have adopted a "productivity over time in the office" philosophy. The world has become a very tricky place to successfully navigate life and work. We wanted to assure our employees that we understand this stress, and that whatever we can do to support work-life balance, we are here to make accommodations that make sense for everyone.
We have found this to be a major factor in retaining staff, not only during this pandemic period, but before as well. Showing you care without holding people responsible for "making up the time" is an underrated way management and leadership can show its appreciation. Additionally, we made the decision at the beginning of this year to offer unlimited sick time to our full-time employees.
7. Maintain a good relationship between each employee and the company
As a senior leader in an organization, you should feel accountable for the culture of the business. By having a relationship with each member of the team, you are only strengthening the bond between the company and the team member.
I have made it a personal practice each quarter to conduct check-ins with at least 20% of our staff. During these check-ins, I'll ask my set of questions but will not speak beyond that. I do nothing but listen to what they have to say. I have found that this goes a long way towards building trust.
8. Communicate, communicate, communicate
I, along with all the leadership team members, have an open-door policy, and every staff member has my cell phone number. We encourage open and honest communication, and if the conversation is sometimes difficult, that's okay, too; that's how trust is earned over time.
If you can discuss complex, difficult situations, there isn't a problem you won't be able to overcome. Glossing over issues or sweeping them under the rug will never work.
9. Provide pathways for advancement
Having enough pathways for advancement can sometimes be a challenge in an organization. I believe that communication around career goals, explaining where the opportunities and issues are in a business directly with those looking for advancement will give you the best clue as to who should be considered for advancement.
We have had a great track record of promoting from within. When anyone asks me how they can advance, I tell them to look for the current issues and find a solution. There is no faster way to get ahead.
While organizations will always face a percentage of resignations each year, smart and committed companies can take real steps, including the ones above, to defeat the "Great Resignation" by valuing, engaging, inspiring and retaining employees — especially top performers.
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