It is still a tough labor market out there. The Great Resignation and the dearth of eager job candidates are keeping business owners shorthanded and clamoring for new talent. In many cases, this results in a business’s profound inability to meet customer needs. This negative dynamic is glaringly apparent, even post-pandemic, in some very notable sectors. Restaurants continue to limit operating hours due to lack of service staff. Construction companies are seeing project completion dates pushed way out due to construction labor shortages. And many argue that the lack of workers in freight and shipping is largely responsible for ongoing supply chain issues.
While the unemployment rate is down below 4% and last month’s U.S. Jobs Report showed strong growth, that growth is actually the smallest one-month job increase in the last six months. So the rebound is slowing down even before employers can establish any real labor acquisition foothold.
Employee Retention Is Everything
One of the best solutions to current labor market challenges is for businesses to retain the employees they already have. Employee retention has so many advantages that it really should be the foundation of every business’s human resource strategy.
Realistically in this market, almost any employee can easily jump ship for their next big gig. For many businesses, salary coffers only run so deep, so an employee bidding war is usually out of the question. The good news is that salary is only part of what attracts employees to a job. And often, not even the most important part.
As a modern business owner, you likely know company culture is a really big deal. But implementing rewards programs, giving shout-outs at sales meetings, and stocking the snack basket just doesn’t cut it anymore. Your employees will never remain loyal if your company culture amounts to a bag of chips and a monthly atta’ boy.
So what can you do to foster a more satisfying company culture in your business and, in turn, better employee loyalty and retention?
Create Leadership Alignment
You might have some amazing leaders in your business. Smart. Talented. Great at managing people. But is there misalignment in your leadership team that leaves employees dissatisfied?
Leadership misalignment, also known as organizational misalignment, is a productivity drain and eats away at employee satisfaction and retention. In short, it makes working for your business far less enjoyable.
To counter the impact leadership misalignment may have on employee retention (and really your entire organization), start by defining and creating a company vision statement. Then build buy-in for your vision throughout your leadership team. Communicate that vision clearly and consistently.
People like to work for businesses that have a clear, tangible vision that is easy to support. A united and engaged leadership team that consistently reinforces your company vision may have a surprising effect on your talent retention.
Show Authentic Appreciation Often
Sure, it is nice to celebrate employees at a team meeting or give them a five-star performance review. But showing personal appreciation for your employees when no one is looking can be far more impactful and feel more authentic. Small business owners in particular have enormous opportunities to engage with employees in this manner.
Build authentic relationships with your employees. Personally let your people know what a good job they are doing or how appreciative you are of their performance. Don’t make an announcement, make a connection.
Prioritize Employee Development
One main reason employees jump ship is outside opportunities to grow their careers. Which by default means they didn’t feel they had comparable or better growth opportunities within the parameters of the job they left.
Professional development programs are increasingly important to employees, with younger workers especially invested in career education opportunities.
Employee development initiatives may take the form of mentorship programs or leadership training . They can be formal or informal. They can be a series of seminars, workshops, retreats, or really any number of formats. How you offer employee development programs is less important than that you offer them.
Businesses that implement employee development programs are rewarded with happier, more seasoned, more loyal employees. As a bonus, these initiatives also create a pipeline of talent ready to leverage their newfound skills for the betterment of the company. It really is a win-win.
So look inward; the answer to the labor shortage is closer than you might think.