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New year, new business: Employee retention tips for January

Full length of businesswomen talking while having lunch at table in office

Managing staff turnover is crucial for every business. Follow these strategies to ensure you're getting the most from your employees in 2021.

Recruiting new staff is one of the most expensive and important tasks you can carry out in any business. While it's obvious that hiring the right people to help deliver your business's vision is important, what's less obvious is the cost.

The entire hiring process is time consuming. Then there's induction and training and the productivity slump that occurs when an experienced hand is replaced by someone new who needs to learn the ropes.

Advertising costs, recruitment agencies and your time shortlisting candidates and conducting interviews are all costs that can be minimised or avoided if you can retain the staff you already have.

So how do you retain employees?

1. Start at the beginning: Recruitment

Job interview
Hiring the right people is critical to staff retention. Not only is it about retaining the person you just hired, but also about not alienating the people you already have.

It can be tempting to hire people that are just like you. After all, they're likely to be agreeable and you'll probably get along with them. But there's already a "you" in the business. Do you need another one?

Look for people that will fit in with the organisation's culture and provide skills and personality that complement what you already have.

And avoid the "delicate genius" – someone that is highly skilled and intelligent but hard to get along with. They might do great work but they can also create unrest among the rest of your team.

2. Engage your staff

Store employees checking storage and products
While the COVID-19 pandemic put pressure on many businesses, it was also an opportunity to look for new revenue streams and ways of doing things. And one of the best sources of ideas in your business is your existing staff.

By engaging them in the growth and operation of the business, they will become invested in the company's success and want to stay for the journey.

3. Refresh incentives and bonuses

Men and women sharing gifts and in an office.
A fat pay packet isn't the only way you can reward staff. Incentives and bonuses such vouchers, flowers and experiences are a great way to give staff thoughtful gifts that show you are thinking about them specifically and not just dishing out a generic "well done" greeting card.

The great thing about incentives like these is that they don't have to cost the earth. Look for products and services that offer discounts for businesses or group packages.

If you have a rewards card for business spending, you can also see what gifts or other perks you could get for your staff by using your points. For example, you could use American Express Membership Rewards points to shop for gifts at David Jones, or give staff gift cards that they can use with popular brands.

While financial bonuses are great, a thoughtful gift as a reward will have a more personal touch and make the team member feel wanted and appreciated.

4. Upskilling and career progression

Happy staff in office
Not every business is big enough to provide employees with traditional career advancement. The days of taking an entry-level job at a business, earning regular promotions and advancing to a leadership role have passed. But it is still possible to offer employees development opportunities that will allow them to gain new skills and experience.

Giving employees the chance to try new things within a business is a great way for them to develop new skills. This could be through secondments to different teams, new projects, skill-sharing initiatives or something else that fits with your larger business plan.

If you have employees that travel for work, have lunch meetings with clients or need to claim other expenses, you could give them more independence – and responsibility – by offering them a card that's linked to your existing business account. Plenty of business cards include this option. For example, the American Express Business Explorer Card offers up to 99 additional cards for no extra fee. With other business cards, the features do vary, so check what's possible before you offer anyone this opportunity.

These options are all ways to help employees grow and also mean that the business benefits from a more versatile workforce that can adapt to shifting priorities and conditions. And it helps everyone see how each person's role contributes to the success of the company.

So, even if your business can't accommodate advancement in the traditional sense, you can keep your team learning and engaged by offering them new workplace experiences.

5. Keep everyone in the loop

Group of colleagues chatting
Regular communication is vital for employee retention. Keeping employees informed about what's happening in the business, giving them opportunities to discuss issues in an open and safe way, and listening to suggestions on how the business can be improved are positive factors in employee retention.

There's significant research that points to employees feeling that they can't express their views or that they aren't being heard as significant reasons they chose to leave the company.

Employee turnover is a significant cost to businesses. But by investing time, consideration and some effort, it's possible to reduce employee turnover. When your team is engaged, it's happier and your people are more likely to stay.

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