Keeping Your Staff: Retention Strategies that Work – InnFocus Summer 2018

The following article was originally published in InnFocus magazine, Summer 2018 Edition. See it online at:

by Veronica Lyver

William Kahn, a professor of Organizational Behavior at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, wrote “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work” in 1990. He found that for an employee to feel engaged, they had to:

  • Feel that their work was meaningful and made a difference
  • Feel valued, trusted, and respected
  • Feel secure and self-confident

In other words, the more an employee feels part of a community,
the more likely it is that they are engaged with what they do. It seems
quite simple, but it’s surprisingly easy and common to overlook these factors. The changes to the job market, especially within the retail and service industries, makes the need for effective employee engagement strategies even more imperative. Here are some proven strategies to consider for your business.

Employees thrive on the opportunity to not just work for the business, but also contribute to its success.

Encourage and Reward Feedback

Employees thrive on the opportunity to not just work for the business, but also contribute to its success. Your front-line workers often know the intricacies of the business intimately. Allow them to speak up. Offer an incentive for any implemented idea that impacts a key business driver—scheduling (labour costs), sales promotions (increased revenue), or even how to decrease expenses (saving you money). The reward doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. A gift certificate for dinner and a movie or perhaps a nice bottle of their favourite wine might be enough.

Sometimes the smallest changes can make a significant difference for a business. Allow staff to feel like they are making that difference. You may be surprised by the ideas that come forward.

Celebrate Teamwork

It’s always important to get together and celebrate teamwork. As part of this celebration you could arrange a night of wine and spirit tasting. Suppliers may offer to help you with the location, supplies, or even facilitating a knowledge session. Your employees get out for a night of fun and team building. You will want to make sure everyone gets home safely, so arrange for group transportation or taxi vouchers to reduce any risk of liability.

Offer Education

To encourage your employees to keep learning, you could offer to pay for them to attend courses related to the department they’re working in. Online courses are easy to fit into any schedule. Building additional knowledge will allow your employees to feel secure and confident when dealing with guests. They also bring that knowledge into their personal lives, which may ignite a passion for even more education.

Develop Leadership

One other way to increase employee engagement is to offer a development plan for employees you see with leadership potential. Management trainee programs often focus on both on-the-job and academic learning. Providing trainees with a strong knowledge base of operations combined with intense leadership training proves to be an excellent development plan. If it is all mapped out and budgeted for ahead of time, everyone can commit to the program and know what’s in store for them.

Reduce Bullying and Harrassment

One area of concern that is common in many workplaces is workplace bullying and harassment. You may think this isn’t happening in your workplace, but some form of disrespectful, controlling behaviour may very well be happening at any level of the organization. Some statistics show up to 50% of workers have experienced bullying and harassment in the workplace. Having regular communication with your employees and providing an open-door policy will help reduce this unacceptable type of behaviour. Create a safe environment for employees to feel comfortable coming forward with their concerns.

BC has legislation regarding bullying in the workplace, so you need to take a proactive stance to deal with it. Take the lead and create your own policy detailing what a respectful workplace looks like and what behaviours are not acceptable. Define bullying, harassment, and discrimination, and outline what employees should do if they experience or witness it. And lastly, clearly define the consequences of such behaviour. Ensure all employees are familiar with this policy, and ask them to sign a form acknowledging they have read, understand, and been given the opportunity to ask questions. If a complaint comes forward, be as objective as possible and place yourself outside the situation so you can see it from other people’s point of view. A respectful workplace policy demonstrates your intention to create a positive workplace filled with respect and care for all.

Ensure Safety First

Workplace safety is also very important to employees. Do you have training and drills on what to do in case of an emergency? Consider hiring a professional to come and speak with the team on what to do when faced with such a situation. Many retired police officers now offer this type of training on a consultant basis. Ask yourself, what precautions do I have in place? Then, create a training manual for new employees so they are aware of every measure to keep themselves safe.

Plan a Business Retreat

One last consideration for you to ponder is taking the leaders in your organization on a learning outing or retreat. Many large cities have various business and motivational speakers available throughout the year who can offer inspiration and positivity as you strive to create continued business growth with your team. An event like this allows your leaders to feel like they’re an important part of the bigger picture, and their new knowledge and skills transfer back into your business. Win-win situations create great momentum.

Employees stay where they feel appreciated, respected, and see themselves growing and developing. Providing these opportunities will increase the likelihood of them not only remaining on the team, bringing in new staff, and also bragging about where they work. It may all be as simple as remembering “your vibe attracts your tribe”.