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Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 4.57.42 pmFrom the desk of Nick Mills

No matter what your business, employee retention is an issue you’ll have to grapple with at some point or another. And it can be costly. In fact, a high employee turnover rate can cost twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement. Not only are there financial repercussions, a high turnover rate can also lower the knowledge base in your company and decrease performance and morale.

So, in addition to hiring selectively and offering competitive benefits packages, what can you do?

These are some of my top suggestions:

1. Provide a comfortable work environment and culture — Feeling ‘right’ in an environment happens at an intuitive level. Some employees might not even know how to verbalise their discomfort. Above all, a workspace must feel ‘safe’. It should also be properly ventilated, well-lit, and at a comfortable temperature. Lois Goodell, principal and the director of interior design at CBT Architects, adds on Inc.com that “Designing a comfortable office environment is about more than aesthetics; careful attention to design can give a boost to employee happiness.”

At the same time, you need an organisational culture that matches your vision so that people will feel included, motivated, and engaged.

2. Enable line management to be ready with solutions — According to PeopleStreme, experts in Human Capital Management in Australia, employee retention needs to be thought of as an organisational problem with line management playing the major role. They argue that it’s important to move accountability to line management, since they control inputs that contribute to an employee leaving. It’s also important to provide tools so that line managers are better able to anticipate issues before they become insurmountable. Remember to individually tailor development, incentives, and attention for each employee. What works for one person might not work for another.

3. Offer training — With information and communication technologies changing at an ever-faster pace, it’s paramount that your employees have up-to-date skills just to keep up. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by change. Your job as a leader is to see that each employee is well-trained and confident with their skills. This leads to greater job satisfaction and deeper engagement.

4. Listen — You can learn a lot by listening to employees. Whether it’s an idea you haven’t thought of or information that reveals a problem or a division, unless you are willing to listen, you might be in the dark about an employee leaving until it’s too late. According to Steve Olenski, in an article for Forbes, it’s even a good idea “to conduct ‘stay’ interviews so you can find out exactly why employees have remained with the company and what it would take for them to leave.”

5. Offer recognition — This tip could be the most important of all. This could be a thumbs up after a meeting, a simple thank you, or handwritten well-done note. More elaborate recognition could be including them at high level networking events, sponsoring them at an industry conference, giving stock options, or awarding a prize.

Of course, this only scratches the surface. However, if you want to keep good employees, develop them personally and professionally, and keep them happy at work, it’s a good place to start.