Employee Retention and Motivation Strategies
In mid-summer of 2008, HR pros were worrying about the tight labor market and the challenges of finding and keeping good employees. With the drastic change in the economy and record-setting layoffs and business closings, human resources is now flooded with resumes even if they are not hiring or only hiring for an entry-level position.
But for many employees today, their career hopes and fears are very different. Many workers constantly live with the fear that they will be the next one fired or laid off. And if an employee is in a difficult work situation, he may be willing to stay at his job when just a few months ago, he would have actively looked for another one.
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While this may sound like employee retention and motivation shouldn’t be high priorities for employers, it is more important now than ever to focus on developing a positive relationship with employees. If your company has had layoffs, furloughs, or a hiring freeze, the workers who are left are probably working harder than ever as they absorb the work that former employees did in addition to their existing jobs.
That sort of stress can cause employee morale to suffer terribly. And at some point, the economy will turn around and if employees believe they have been treated badly or were unappreciated for the work they did to help the company during the lean times, they will be the first to quit. That could leave an employer without its most talented or knowledgeable employees right when it needs to start building and growing quickly.
What motivates employees to stay and builds morale?
So what exactly can an employer do to retain good employees? While most view increased compensation as their primary solution to employee retention and motivation problems, the fact is that most employees place compensation so far down on their list of what makes a good employer that it’s essentially off the radar screen, while benefits — such as health care — rank very high.
Although surveys show that the youngest employees, those ages 18-24, cite a raise as key to their decision to stay with a company, those employees remain in the minority — and continue to be the employees most willing to jump ship. General expectations are that as these young employees mature and take on more responsibilities, other concerns will dominate.
So then the question becomes how do employers continue to sell the job to an employee when increasing his pay is no longer an option? Surveys have revealed some of the top qualities employees seek in their employers. Among them: work that is meaningful, challenging, and offers training and development opportunities, management that assists and supports, but doesn’t dictate, explicit awareness of life beyond the office, an array of core benefits and the power of choice. For more ideas on low- or no-cost ways to boost employee morale, retention, and motivation, download the free HR Hero white paper Giving Thanks: How to Show Employees They’re #1 Without Breaking the Bank.