In a job market where talent shortages are increasing and employees feel more comfortable with changing jobs, the topics of retention and engagement are important priorities for leaders and organizations.

It wasn’t long ago that the state of the job market meant most employees were simply happy just to have a job, but that is no longer the case. In a 2014 study, 78 percent of business leaders rated employee retention as important or urgent. In a 2015 study, 87 percent of organizations cited culture and engagement as one of their top challenges.

With more options available to them, are you confident your employees are happy in their current roles?

Many managers are quick to assume employees simply leave for more money. However, twenty years of research and employee opinion surveys have consistently indicate otherwise. What matters to employees more than money are the following aspects of their employment:

  • A good working relationship with their immediate supervisor
  • The opportunity to learn and grow in their jobs
  • Doing meaningful work
  • Feeling like a valued, respected member of a team
  • Recognition for their contributions to the organization’s success
  • Having autonomy and the authority to effectively do their job
  • Flexibility with work hours

The best retention strategy is always based on solid, effective working relationships between employees and their leaders. Successful leaders understand that people are the most important and powerful aspect of an organization. People join organizations for an opportunity, but they most often leave because of a poor working relationship with their manager.

Leaders who can build support and allegiance to both someone – the manager and team members – and something – the organization’s vision and purpose – will double their employee loyalty quotient. How well do you inspire devotion to your company’s purpose, co-workers and yourself?

Obviously, you have to be paying people a fair market wage in order for them to continue to align their efforts with your organization. However, pay is simply one aspect of employee satisfaction. Keep the following point in mind to ensure you are focusing on the right ways to keep your employees happy and engaged in their roles at the organization.

Put People First
More than ever before, today’s workforce values a balance between work and life outside of work. Promote healthy work/life balance. Entertain flex schedules and allow for telecommuting if possible. Make it a priority to let your people know how much you value them by touching base with them on a daily basis. Ask questions such as, “How’s it going today? Do you need any support from me?”

Keep People in the Loop
Not once have we completed a survey that resulted in employees saying they received too much information. Over-communicate. Talk about what’s going well, your organization’s vision, goals, and where there are challenges. Keep people informed through emails, formal and informal meetings, and most importantly, one-on-one conversations. If you can’t answer their questions, respond honestly, then try to get them answers.

Provide Training Opportunities
When you provide training for your employees, it’s a win-win for everyone. The organization will have employees who are more knowledgeable and efficient. The employee is able to increase their value to the organization, advance their careers, and improve their future chances of moving up in your organization.

Encourage a Culture of Innovation
Encourage employees to be innovative and support their desire to try new things, even if it doesn’t work out. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying new things. Be supportive of mistakes. Without a culture where people can take pride in innovative failures and be motivated to get back up and try again, people stop trying at all.

Make Retention an Organizational Commitment
Employee retention is critical to your team’s success. Know your employees and know what’s important to them and don’t just assume you know. Ask them to tell you what they like about their jobs and what they’d like to change. Get their input and use their ideas whenever possible. Conduct ‘stay interviews’ by asking your team members about what retention factors are important to them. Listen to their feedback and make changes based on what they say are important ‘stay’ factors for them.

Conduct an Employee Engagement Survey
Get a current read on employee engagement and take action to address their concerns. Get in touch with the pulse of your organization. You need to gather your employees’ perspectives on what’s working and what’s not. Taking this proactive step will help you avoid losing the top talent in your organization.

Employees are no longer willing to settle for poor or mediocre leadership and a lack of opportunities to develop and grow. Are you doing all you can as a leader to ensure your employees have what they need to thrive and be happy in their roles?