Training to Retain
Every time an employee leaves, you're throwing away $35,000. Got your attention?
According to the 1999 Employee Relationship Report Benchmark, it costs an average of $35,000 to train a new employee. This can get expensive, especially since a survey on small and mid-size businesses by Entrepreneurs revealed that 61 percent of small business owners see retaining employees as their biggest challenge.
So what are businesses doing to keep their employees on board? Following are a few suggestions to avoid a shrinking staff:
High Salaries Aren't Everything:
The assumption is, if employees are well paid, they'll be loyal. Although paying an employee well is important, according to the Entrepreneurs survey, providing a team atmosphere was the primary motivator for job loyalty, surpassing monetary rewards. The Report Benchmark agrees with these findings. It discovered the soft aspects of corporate culture—including praise and recognition from the boss—had a stronger influence on an employee's commitment than salaries or bonuses.
Jim Ashe, president of Beach Painting Contractors, Inc., uses praise as a motivator to retain his employees. “We have an 'Employee of the Month' who gets a $50 bonus as praise and recognition for his or her work.”
While employees are clamoring for personal praise, they still need to make a living. Only a little more than half of small businesses are offering health insurance to their full time employees. Unfortunately, not every company can offer benefits, but it does add an extra incentive to stay.
Companies can offer other incentives as well. For example, vacation days can sway an employee to stay. Some companies are adding days to the usual holiday line-up such as July 3, Good Friday and Martin Luther King Day. These extra days give employees a chance to spend more time with their families and encourage their loyalty to the company.
Teach a Man to Fish…
Offering opportunities for employees to hone their skills or learn other aspects of the business will help increase loyalty as well. “By offering on-the-job-training, my employees internalize the job,” says Ashe. “The sense of personal accomplishment in a 'family' atmosphere appeals to them. We think that this method is much better than a hand-out.”
Listen, Listen, Listen:
Finally, one of the easiest ways to keep employees happy is to listen. Ask them how they like their job. What would they change about it? Do they feel their job is important, and have they had the opportunity to grow? Receiving feedback will help assess how employees feel about their job as well as improve the employer/employee relationship.