THE BLOG
01/14/2014 02:38 pm ET Updated Mar 16, 2014

3 Ways To Increase Employee Retention

Last week's job numbers had some clear weakness. While we are creating jobs (74,000 new ones reported), we aren't creating nearly enough of them. And while unemployment decreased to a still-too-high 6.7 percent, the decrease was due to many people giving up on their search for work, and leaving the workforce altogether.

While many are struggling to find work in the tale-of-two-job-markets scenario that we have going on, there are also many businesses struggling to find and retain top talent on the other side of the spectrum. For all businesses, but small businesses in particular, having the right team in place is critical to business success and growth. Losing a key player can be devastating.

This is a real challenge. In fact, according to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, approximately 21 percent of employees plan to switch jobs in 2014. So, what can a business do to help retain candidates? Surprisingly, it's not all about giving raises. Here are a few options that businesses can implement to attract more employees and keep them for the long haul.

Provide Flexible Work Options:

A new survey of 6,000 business people from Regus, the world's largest provider of flexible workspace (disclosure: they are also a client of mine) shows that flexible working practices, including working from home and flex hours, create loyal employees. The survey showed that 79 percent of employees would choose one job offer over another similar one if it offered flexible working, 78 percent believe that flexible working improves staff retention, and 77 percent believe that flexible working attracts top talent.

These findings are reinforced by CareerBuilder's survey, in which 39 percent of respondents cited work/life balance as a significant catalyst for them to change jobs. When Best Buy adopted flexibility at its headquarters a few years back, it cut turnover by 45 percent.

Also, a study from the University of California at Berkley also shows that employees are more motivated and perform better when given opportunities to telecommute and work outside of the office, even from time to time. Clearly, considering flexible options can truly strengthen your labor force.

Reduce Stress:

One of the biggest issues that we all face is a rising amount of stress. Since we tend to spend a large part of our waking hours at work, and with new demands placed on us by technology, workplace stress has also become a big job issue. The CareerBuilder survey shows that 39 percent of workers felt highly stressed, and that was a factor to look for a new job.

The Regus survey found that flexible working was a good way to reduce stress, with 72 percent of survey respondents agreeing to that in the survey.

Additionally, providing wellness options, such as on-site gyms or encouraging regular breaks for self-care, help to show that your organization cares about balance. Plus, employees who take care of themselves are not only happier, but perform better. That's a clear win-win proposition for any organization.

Give Them Attention:

Shana Mallon, from Straight North, also encourages just plain listening to employees. Many employees feel undervalued, or that they don't have a real opportunity to voice concerns with their bosses or employers. Mallon points to a study by John Izzo, "The [number one] reason employees don't take more initiative at work... is that their leaders fail to get their input before making decisions."

Having a forum for real feedback and acknowledgement can go a long way to keeping your business's most valued employees.

As you can see, there are truly cost efficient ways to help keep employees happy, healthy, productive and as members of your organization. As the economy continues to improve, implementing strategies like these will be more important than ever.

Disclosure: As noted in the article, the author has a client relationship with Regus, one of the companies that provided survey data

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