One of my favorite things this time of year is hearing the results from Merriam-Webster on the new words of year. In 2021, they focused on our new professional world. Digital nomad, co-working and gig worker all topped the list. We have also heard about new trends, such as the “Great Resignation.” Social impact employers were hit especially hard during the pandemic due to their lean staffing structures and resource constraints. So, as we round out the year and focus on what is to come, I have asked former nonprofit executive and fellow Fuqua School of Business alum, John Troy, to share some tips to help you improve employee retention. John is the founder of WorkMonger, a new, innovative online employment matching service for the social sector.
- Flexible work hours, such as four ten-hour days or the ability to begin the workday at different times
- Allow employees to work from home more frequently or entirely remotely
- Free or discounted parking, if applicable to your organization
- Medical and dental insurance
- Retirement plan, retirement matching
- Generous paid-time-off/holidays (giving people their birthday off is always a favorite!)
- Gym membership or discount
- Tuition or student loan assistance
- Cell phone stipend/reimbursement
- Words of Affirmation. Some employees feel appreciated most when they receive praise. It doesn’t need to be excessive or insincere. Offering a “well done” often suffices, but any words that affirm a team member’s positive qualities and contributions will do. For example, you might let an employee know that you appreciate their hard work or dedication to students. Using words of affirmation is a great way to show appreciation because it doesn’t cost you anything financially, yet it has a big impact. And remember – the more specific, the better! A concrete sentence or two of affirmation with a specific example is far more powerful than a general “good job.”
- Quality Time. Another way some employees feel appreciated is when senior leaders give them quality time. Don’t make the mistake of misunderstanding a team member who wants quality time as someone trying to influence you or foster a friendship. Some employees want to share progress about a specific project, offer feedback or give suggestions. When you take the time to sit down and ask them how it’s going, they feel valued when discussing things with you. You can provide quality time during the workday, take an employee to lunch or have an office gathering outside work.
- Acts of Service. Another great way to show you value your employees is by chipping in or providing resources to help them get their work done. Actions speak louder than words, and offering a helping hand promotes a team environment and shows employees that you care.
- Tangible Gifts. For some team members, a small token of your appreciation can go a long way. Depending on the situation, you can offer gifts to employees in various price ranges to show appreciation. Whether a gift card, organization swag or a cash bonus, for some of your employees these tangible gifts are what will truly show them that you value them and their contributions to the team.
- Physical Touch. Chapman’s final language of appreciation, physical touch, is tricky in the workplace. You need to be careful and mindful when using physical touch to show appreciation at work. The most important thing to remember is that what is comfortable physical touch for you might not be comfortable for your team member. Touching that typically affirms the team member without raising concern includes an extended handshake, a literal pat on the back, a high five or a fist bump.
Organizational culture plays a large role in employee retention, primarily because of its relationship to employee engagement. Organizations with a strong culture have employees who are engaged and enjoy coming to work. The research is clear—engaged employees are far less likely to look for different jobs. In fact, a Gallup Poll found that engaged employees are 59 percent less likely to search for a job with a new organization over the next 12 months.