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Holding on to great employees isn’t always the center of a manager’s world. The (major) distractions of running a business and keeping customers happy sometimes divert a company’s leadership from focusing on the employee.

Wondering how to keep your staff happy and productive? You should be — this is as important as hiring! Less turnover = less cost (easy math, huh?). Ensuring retention can’t be done in a matter of days or even weeks, but the best time to start is now.

A constant effort that involves open communication, continual stimulation, and consistent appreciation will create the environment necessary to ensure that your best employees are here to stay.

Step 1: Communicate

From day one, an employee should know what is expected of them. Without clear expectations, an employee can become quickly frustrated. Regular check-in interviews — not just yearly evaluations — will ensure that an employee feels cared for and noticed.

Providing feedback, both positive and constructive, is important. Without it, employees won't know if they are living up to expectations or are off-base.

And remember: coach rather than manage. Coaching lets an employee feel that they are on the same team, while managing separates leadership from those who work for them. With regular communication and fostered team-building, employees will know what they are contributing and how it affects others, which is motivation to stay.

Step 2: Stimulate and Challenge

Your most talented employees need to be stimulated and challenged in order to thrive. Help employees establish their own goals and give them the skills they need to reach them. Work as a team to set goals and measure performance, but don’t stop there. To continue stimulating and challenging employees, provide different training opportunities.

Have a member of the marketing team who wants to learn Photoshop in order to better create marketing materials? Have someone come train them or send them to a class. 

Is there an Excel training that sales could use? Challenge them and provide educational opportunities for them to grow and thrive as both individuals and employees.

This is all part of creating the right environment where employees can really feel like they are contributing during work instead of just showing up.

Step 3: Provide Perks and Benefits

Remember the gold-star charts of elementary school when good behavior got your work recognized and rewarded? Well, third graders aren’t the only ones who like getting a pat on the back for good performance.

Show your employees appreciation for a job well done with creative perks, constant appreciation, and good benefits. A cash bonus is always appreciated, but there are other effective and creative perks to offer your employees.

Offer competitive and tailored benefits packages to all employees, like health insurance, paid time off, and career development opportunities to encourage continued education and an opportunity to network. Perks like weekly paid lunches are also popular and are good for bonding.

Most importantly, respect an employee’s work/life balance. Can the company make work-from-home-Mondays or half-day Fridays in the summer work? Go for it!

Even something as simple as encouraging them to go to the gym on their lunch break, or leaving once they’ve finished their work can make a big difference in an employee’s perception of the company.

Letting employees find a schedule that works for them, as long as it can work for the workplace, makes a huge difference in overall happiness and productivity. Coupled with intentional communication, challenge, and mental stimulation, you’ll be off to a good start.

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