By Scott Vollero
America’s quit rate, or the rate at which U.S. workers quit their jobs, is holding steady near long-term highs. Translation: the country’s workers have rarely been more restless to leave their jobs and learn once and for all whether the grass is greener on the other side.
Zoom out a bit and the picture gets even starker for employers. After a rapid collapse during the Great Recession, the U.S. quit rate steadily recovered most of its lost ground. Every year, it’s gotten harder for American employers to keep good employees around — and, because there’s so much competition for rockstar workers in the labor market these days, to find quality replacements.
These four ideas for rewarding and retaining employees won’t turn your company around overnight or make it the envy of HR specialists the world over. But each will give you a cost-effective edge over the competition — one more reason for your top performers to stick around a little longer.
- Train Better Supervisors
Quality supervision isn’t a traditional job perk, to be sure, but it’s absolutely critical to keeping employees happy. When you hire or promote a new supervisor, run them through the training ringer: conflict resolution strategies, hands-on management best practices, compliance, and anything else that makes sense in the context of your company. Track their retention rates over time and offer performance bonuses for managers that meet or exceed target thresholds. If a team or department consistently turns over faster than comparable units, don’t be afraid to ask whether the supervisor is to blame.
- Increase Flex Time
Flexibility is currency. Your employees have lives outside work, after all: kids, spouses, parents, siblings, friends, hobbies, feelings (including, you know, wanting to be anywhere other than the office). If your white-collar workplace doesn’t yet have a telecommuting policy, what are you waiting for? And there’s absolutely no reason you should be tracking time-off accumulation by the hour. If your workers are able to get their work done before the deadlines you’ve set, they should be able to take an afternoon off to take care of their sick kid.
- Boost Bonus Compensation
Scheduled raises are so passe — and so expensive. Why not reward your employees when they reward you? Even a moderate boost to your current bonus pool, or the addition of a new financial performance incentive, can improve morale among affected workers. Bonus compensation is a win-win: employees who feel recognized and rewarded are willing to work harder for the same amount of (guaranteed) money.
- Spiff Up Your Office
The old ping-pong tables and beanbag chairs cliche is wearing thin, even in the latte-frothy world of software startups. But that doesn’t mean you can’t invest in a practical, employee-friendly office design, decor and programming. You don’t have to hear the place apart — just upgrade your common areas, add some collaborative work space, and make sure your office manager (who you’ll need to hire if he or she doesn’t exist already) keeps the refreshments coming. It’s amazing what fresh coffee, local artwork and comfy huddle rooms can do.
What are you doing to reward and retain employees in an ever more competitive job market?
Scott Vollero is an international entrepreneur and expert in the precious metals and automotive parts recycling industries.