09/25/2012 12:29 pm ET Updated Nov 25, 2012

5 Ways to Retain Employees and Reduce Unemployment

There's a dark side to unemployment that many people don't discuss. I'm not talking about the lack of jobs or the sneering at those who don't have enough experience. I'm talking about those who already have jobs, perfectly good jobs. However, these employed professionals are so unhappy that they are faced with an unfathomable reality: should I stay or should I go? For many, it's unfortunately the latter... and it's because of their managers.

According to CNBC, employees spent 19.2 hours a week worrying about what their boss says or does. Many employees also face physical forms of stress, like heart problems. In addition, it was reported that since 2008, workers feel worse about their jobs and their work environments than ever before, which may be because of who's in charge. This leads to lower engagement levels, apathy towards their jobs, and of course, turning in their two weeks notice.

Further, since many leaders put more pressure on their best employees, managers are essentially losing out on the cream of the crop simply because their employees aren't being treated right. It's a sad reality, but many workers would rather quit than deal with a bad boss or an unfit work environment. Yes, it's extreme, but it happens. At the end of the day, a person's sanity may take front seat to a shoddy job.

So, managers, listen up: stop making your employees quit -- you're not doing the unemployment rate a favor, after all. Switch up your leadership style and stop watching your best employees walk away. Here's how:

1. Understand their work style: Every employee is different. Just because one employee can complete certain goals or a work with a difficult client doesn't mean everyone can. Understand their pace of work, including what makes them tick, what they excel in, and what they aren't so great at, and cater to these needs. If you don't, you'll find a decrease in their quality of work, which can lead to workplace unhappiness. In the end, this sacrifices your best talent in more ways than one.

2. Improve communication: Your employees can't possibly know everything you're thinking or what direction you want to go towards if you don't share those things on a regular basis. There's no way around it -- nothing can replace healthy communication.

Furthermore, modern employees do not want to wait for meetings in order to gain updates. Today's worker is social, they want discussions about the future in real-time, and they want to be in the know now. In order to accommodate this, ask yourself what your communication methods are. Does everyone have the same information? Is it timely?

When it comes down to it, co-worker to co-worker communication through collaboration whether it's documents, messages, goals, or projects can vastly improve the communication process. It helps your team members to understand their goals from a different perspective, while at the same time building real camaraderie. If you are only relying on yourself to communicate to the team then you may be falling behind since you can't possibly know the whole story.

3. Performance management vs. performance review: Traditional performance reviews are hated by both employees and HR, and most consider the number of goals reached, as opposed to the quality of those goals. So, why are you still relying on them?

A better alternative? Performance management by way of regular feedback and coaching sessions. Regularly assessing the performance of your team members helps you to evaluate what's working and what's not in real-time, not quarterly or yearly when that feedback doesn't matter anymore. This helps your employees become attuned with their goals, as well as their performance, and is better for engagement. Just make sure to always give constructive criticism if they aren't on track. The alternative will only contribute to workplace unhappiness and have them running to the door.

4. Implement social goals: At their core, social goals can assist your team in collaborating with each other. What does this have to do with retaining employees and reducing unemployment, though? Well, social goals allows worker to share their goals, give feedback on performance, and upload their work in real-time. The combination of these helps employees to work faster and think in a more holistic way. That is, they understand their goals better because they have their team behind them. This gives them the confidence they need to keep moving forward and work at their full potential.

5. Let them make vertical moves: If you feel like your employees are ready to bolt, vertical moves may be your last shot at retaining them. Vertical moves allow workers to stay in the organization, but work in a different position or department. For instance, a worker in sales could transfer to marketing since there is some distinct overlap. This tactic can give your employees a breath of fresh air, a new start, and a clear outlook in the organization without leaving.

If you haven't figured it out by now, there is a deep link between retaining your employees and reducing unemployment. You just have to think on their level instead of only considering your own agenda. In the end, it could be the greatest gift you give them.

What do you think? What are some other ways to retain employees?