Employee Retention: The Secret Sauce to Success

Best ways to improve employee retention

Down the road from your office is a new burrito spot that Loren from IT swears by. When pressed, Loren can’t quite put a finger on why this particular joint’s burritos are better than any others. But they are. Loren knows it, and slowly, as Loren preaches the gospel, everyone in your office knows it. You finally give in and grab a burrito for lunch. At first nothing specific seems to set the burrito apart from others you’ve had, except the creamy, spicy ‘secret sauce.’

What’s in the secret sauce? How do they make it and why do you salivate everytime you think about the gooey, liquid goodness? Whatever it is, the secret sauce is somehow making their burritos better than everyone else’s. So what is the secret sauce?

Unfortunately, they may never release the recipe to their secret sauce. And why should they? That sauce is the secret to their success, but you don’t need their recipe to make your business successful.

You need your own secret sauce.

The Super-Secret Secret Sauce

The not-so-secret ingredients to your sauce are your employees. Specifically your best employees performing at their best for as long as possible. If you start losing some of your employees, it will dramatically affect the quality of your sauce.

This is why the key to your business’ success, the main ingredient in your secret sauce is Employee Retention. Retaining your employees requires keeping them engaged, happy, and comfortable in the workplace. Engagement and happiness are integral in retaining your irreplaceable employees (i.e. ingredients).

The problem with losing your best employees is that turnover is too expensive. Turnover costs businesses $11B+ annually and the cost to recruit is often 10%-30% the annual salary of the position that needs filled. The hidden costs of hiring, like recruiting, onboarding, and getting new hires up to speed consume chunks from an organization’s bottom line. Turnover is a financial killer for an organization, but that’s not the only way turnover will sour your secret sauce.

Turnover also leads to a crippling cycle in the office that can destroy your culture and hurt the customer-facing brand. Constant turnover hurts morale among your workforce. Low morale leads to lack of engagement and happiness at work, which leads to more turnover. Your customers may also find your service inconsistent when they have to talk to a brand new employee every week or every few months.

If your sauce is sometimes salty and sometimes bitter, you will have trouble capturing the lifelong customers, like Loren in IT, that become “regulars” at your company and preach the word of your product to any and all who will listen.

More Than One Way to Crack an Egg

Inconsistency is bad for your secret sauce, and bad for your company. Luckily, there is more than one way to crack and egg (and stir a sauce). Employee retention should be addressed with a multi-faceted approach. No single best solution exists. Your best option to retain your best employees is to adopt several of these practices in some way.

Prep Your Ingredients Before Cooking

Retaining employees and ensuring they’re happy and engaged starts BEFORE day one. How you onboard an employee, orientate, introduce them to coworkers and inundate them in the company culture plays a huge role in how comfortable new hires feel. The Harvard Business review makes the case that: “companies with successful onboarding programs are not just more likely to retain their new hires but even report measurable profit growth.” Effective onboarding also helps new hires get up to speed faster and become a fully-functioning, productive member of your organization.

If the people in your kitchen aren’t familiar with your processes, can’t find a saucepan or the wooden spoon, and don’t know the secret sauce has to simmer for one hour on low heat, they’re likely to mess up the sauce, which leads to you being unhappy with them and them being unhappy with themselves.

Keep the Kitchen Clean (and Well Lit)

You have to keep the kitchen clean if you want to maintain your food service license, but a clean kitchen is also important to ensure your ingredients are well maintained and consistent.

In the same vein, employee productivity and happiness are also connected to the physical environment they work in. You want an environment that focuses on well-being, communication, and freedom. An environment geared toward productivity with the employee in mind probably has good lighting. The more natural lighting you can provide the more happy your workforce will be.

Healthy employees can produce more, so encourage health by stocking healthy snacks in the break room to show employees you care about their wellbeing. Besides the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, healthy employees will be more productive, happy, and engaged.

The best ingredients are healthy and fresh. This is why you must enforce a proper work-life balance in your organization. Sometimes overtime, late nights, and weekend hours are necessary to finish a project or get a big presentation ready for the client meeting first thing Monday morning. But you can’t make this an everyday, week, and month occurrence. Recognize employees have lives outside of the workplace, and often times those lives enhance the work employees are doing at your organization by keeping their minds fresh.

Flexscheduling, remote-work, and PTO are all options to help employees maintain the proper work-life balance and keep them fresh so they’re not burning themselves out, and eventually leaving your company.

Don’t Hide the Recipe from your Sauce Makers

You want to keep the ingredients to your secret sauce a secret, but too much secrecy and soon you will be the only one in the kitchen who knows how to make the sauce.

60% of employees feel they know what is expected of them at work, according to a Gallup report on the State of the American Workplace. Organizations who increased that number to 80% see an average of 14% reduction in turnover and a 7% increase in productivity. “Clear expectations are the most basic and fundamental employee need,” says the report.

Yet less than half of employees strongly agree they have a clear job description. Give employees meaning through long and short-term goals, help them understand how their work aligns with the work of the organization, clearly define the expectations for their roles within the organization, and watch their engagement soar.

Along with providing goals you should give consistent feedback on employees’ work. Employees who report not receiving any feedback on their work or performance prove to be overwhelmingly disengaged.

Positive or negative, it doesn’t matter. Employees prefer to receive any feedback. When they do a good job, let them know. Reward them. Even if the reward is only a polite “well done,” or something more, yet still small, like a longer lunch break or gift card to their favorite restaurant. Point out employees’ strengths and positive characteristics.

Feedback will also let employees know if they’re not doing something correctly, or if their work is not meeting expectations. Negative feedback can still be constructive and keep employees focused and engaged on their tasks.

Demand (and Produce) the Best Ingredients

When employees aren’t completing their goals or meeting expectations, it could be that they simply need more training. Most employees appreciate the opportunity to enhance their skills, review knowledge they already have, or gain new skills and knowledge through learning.

Employee training and development initiatives improve engagement. When employees know they are working towards developing new skills that can lead to promotions and higher income, they become more engaged and are likely to stay with your company longer.

The Not-So-Secret Secret Sauce

The secret ingredient to your secret sauce is out. Employee retention is the single most important ingredient to maintaining and growing a successful business.

There are solutions that make managing your secret ingredient easy, effective, and affordable. Auzmor offers an all-in-one HR platform that will help you automate, track, and report what is working and what is not. With one place to enact initiatives, analyze progress, and assess retention strategies, you will constantly be able to work and rework your strategies to fit your company, your employees, and your goals.

Your secret sauce is what sets your product apart from all the rest. The sauce is what gives your burrito that distinct taste, it’s what keeps people coming back again and again, and what makes talented people want to work at your company. Because your secret sauce is the key to your business’ success, its okay to enlist the help of a software that can help manage your kitchen and ensure you triumph.

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