Once upon a time, a successful professional career looked something like this:
- Graduate college.
- Begin work at a good company.
- 30 years later, retire from good company.
- The end.
That story has changed drastically over the past 50 years, with the millennial generation expected to switch jobs an average of every 3 to 4 years, for a total of 15 to 20 times throughout the course of their careers. This is a trend that the recent recession has only exacerbated, with many employees of the mindset that they always need to be looking for that next big thing, whether through in-person networking, LinkedIn, or the ever present recruiter.
High Turnover Rates are a Big Risk
For employers, a quick rate of turnover for the most talented employees is a big risk that needs to be avoided and mitigated. In many jobs, 3 to 4 years barely encompasses a new employee’s learning curve, and losing them so soon means tapping only the very beginnings of their core talents and competencies. What’s more, a rapid rate of employee attrition calls for frequent new employee training, which can be both costly and wasteful if said new employee is just going to leave again, thereby requiring new training for a new employee.
To staunch the employee bleed, employers are under pressure to provide a fun, engaging, and challenging work environment that supports the whole employee and makes them want to stick around. Here are a few creative ways to do just that.
1. Break Rooms
From free food to free bowling, today’s companies are in an arms race to create the world’s coolest break rooms. Whether you envision it as a game room, a napping place, or a space to mingle across team silos, a good break room encourages employees to take time away from their desks, refresh and reset so that they can better approach the many tasks on their plate. However, break rooms are only effective if the company culture encourages employees to take advantage of them. Today’s savvy job seekers know the difference between a company that advertises their free video games and those where employees feel comfortable enough to play them. As such, having a great break room means using a great break room to its full advantages.
2. Flexible Working
With ever busier personal and family lives, the traditional 9 to 5, in-the-office mode of working has become outdated for many employees, who increasingly prioritize life-work balance in their job search. Work from home options are a big part of that, as are flexible working hours. While they won’t work for every employee or employer, flexible working options put trust in the employee, assuming that they’ll do the best job when they can mold their work around their personal lives. Flexible working policies are also very easy to tweak simply by measuring results: if the work is getting done in a timely and efficient manner, then they can continue; if not, they can’t. It’s a risk worth taking to retain employees in the end.
3. A Healthy Built Environment
Whether it’s cubicles that cut extroverted employees off from colleagues, an open office plan that distracts introverted employees from their jobs, or office equipment chosen for cost efficiencies or style rather than comfort, a workplace’s built environment can have a big effect on employee happiness and productivity. As several innovative companies have found, when distinct offices aren’t available for everyone in the office, oftentimes the best solution is providing moveable cubicles that can break apart and be rebuilt like Legos, so employees can create the ideal workspace for them.
Ergonomic equipment like adjustable desks, ergonomic keyboards and laptop and tablet stands are also well worth the investment, as they will encourage employees to work in ways that are ideal for their bodies, helping to prevent Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) and promote productivity. Tending towards light, airy offices with plenty of greenery included is another great way to combat stress and encourage calm. Taken together, creating a nurturing built environment is crucial for creating a physical and psychological safe haven.
4. Wellness Policies
For similar reasons, wellness programs have also become an essential strategy for employee retention. Gym memberships, healthy lunches, and even free monthly massages will nurture employees in mind, body and spirit, while offering free on-site childcare and laundry services will make life easier for everyone. The more you can do to simplify life for your employees, the happier they’ll be to dedicate more time and energy to the job, the longer they’ll stick around.
5. No Vacation Policy
We hear often about the generous vacation policies on offer in other countries, but what about no vacation policy? At big companies like Netflix and the many other companies that have tried this policy to great success, this is the norm, not the exception. While having no vacation policy is obviously great for the rest, relaxation and chance to have a personal life, there’s one more reason employees love it: they feel like responsible adults, who can be trusted to get their jobs done.
From the break room to the beach, there are many effective (and perhaps surprising) way to keep employees around. What’s your favorite employee retention policy? Let us know in the blog comments.