Employee turnover is one of the biggest issues facing any small firm, including ours. The Wall Street Journal estimates that it costs more than twice the amount of an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement. Turnover lowers company productivity, increases the workload of remaining staff and decreases institutional knowledge.
Employment requires a consensus of sorts: the company has to have a need (and a budget), while employees must have the ability and the desire to fulfill that need. When there is a discord between the two, people leave.
After experiencing the cost of employee turnover, we’ve put several programs in place to ensure we keep good people:
- Recognize employee contributions. Tell your staff how much they are valued. Through “thank you” comments from myself or their manager, or a shout-out at a staff meeting, we want employees to know we like them and admire their contributions. We also solicit feedback from our employees to ensure they know we are listening to their concerns and ideas.
- Build personal relationships. Our company operates remotely. With everyone spread around the country, water cooler chats are impossible. Getting to know each person at a different level helps build team camaraderie and company loyalty. We approach getting to know them through two ways. First, we spend time during our weekly staff meetings to learn more about each other — likes and dislikes, celebrity look-alike and even what they had for dinner last night. Second, we encourage individual relationships between managers and peers. This happens more organically through employee reviews and joint projects.
- Share the priorities. When the team knows what is important to us as a company, they make better decisions. It’s that simple.
- Provide productivity tools. No job’s a walk in the park; that’s why they call it work. Ensuring our employees have access to the tools and information they need helps ensure they can do their job more productively. We provide powerful hardware, software and apps that make boring things, such as tracking billable hours, much easier. We have a variety of tools we use as a company to share documents, keep track of project information and even sign human resource documents.
- Provide a competitive benefits package. We’re competing for clients and for employees. Flex schedules, health insurance and specialty insurance, such as disability and life, make a difference when it comes to attracting and keeping employees.
- Ask for a commitment. We’ve recently begun asking our team, especially managers, to commit to staying in their position for at least two years. There is no guarantee, even with this verbal agreement, but most people think twice before breaking their word.
Being a good employer is hard. There are a multitude of pressures facing all of us each day, and saying “thank you” or “way to go” to an employee can easily move to the bottom of the list. Remember, you can’t please everyone, but making an effort to do so can mean the difference between a company focused on growth and a company who never has enough staff to grow.
Marjorie Adams is president/CEO of AQB, a business process and software consulting firm that improves the efficiency of client accounting departments. The firm specializes in QuickBooks integration and conversion projects. In her spare time, Marjorie catches up with one of her six sisters, sweats through CrossFit training, dresses up her four cats, reads a business book or watches the latest AMC show.
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