Your top performers jumping board? Your competitors hogging them? Don’t worry. There are a number of things you can do to keep your employees from switching to the competition. The million dollar question would be, are you willing to go the extra mile to keep your employees from moving out?
Most companies refuse to acknowledge the fact that employees today no longer feel restricted to be part of an organization that doesn’t help them grow or move on to their desired career path. Companies also refuse to acknowledge that employees today are empowered with knowledge, accessibility to education, and plenty of opportunities to build their skills. If you’ve taken your employees for granted, it’s high-time you change the professional landscape or you could risk having your best talents doing wonders for your competitors.
On the other hand, some companies will blatantly go ahead and prevent their employees from joining competitors by bad-mouthing about them, spreading lies and gossips or by using some form of implicit threats to make the employee stay. Some may even burn bridges, cut down on benefits, cause unnecessary delays in providing experience or reference letters and go on to spread false information simply because they are mad at the employee for joining hands with the enemy. In the end, these companies don’t realize the damage they are causing to their own brand and the leverage they are providing competitors. Your employees are your asset and letting your best employees go to your competitors is like literally handing over the secrets, the strengths, and the weaknesses of your organization. And if you happen to have an attitude like this, you’re not earning a very reputable name out there in the market.
Note though that you can’t stop your employees from leaving your workplace or joining your competitor. What you can do is to try to develop your company culture in such a way that they would not want to leave in the first place. You may feel reluctant to take a step in rearranging your environment and may be tempted to display corporate ego, which implies that companies don’t need employees, employees need companies. But in this day and age, is it really true that employees need companies or full-time jobs? Not really. The Internet has empowered millions of people with the ability to earn their own bread and butter and so if you don’t respect your employees, they may either join your competitors OR they may become your competitor. Don’t want that to happen? Here are a few things you could do to prevent your employees from joining your competitors.
Create a Workplace Culture Your Employees Will Fall in Love With
Employees don’t often look for more money when they jump ship. They are basically looking for a positive culture, a place where they are loved and appreciated for who they are and what they bring to the table. Companies that have flexible work schedules, organized hierarchy, pathways for growth, responsible management, and a productive work environment see a high retention rate. Comparatively, companies with a toxic environment see a high turnover rate. If your company has a high turnover rate, it’s time you re-evaluate your organization. Remember, pushing people too hard, playing workplace politics (or allowing it), or creating a controlled work environment will not work to your benefit. Successful companies create rules and boundaries, but they also allow their employees a productive, happy, and relaxed work environment. Create a culture your employees will fall in love with and they’ll never leave.
Treat Your Employees as Partners
Treat your employees as your partners. Allow them to provide input, to share insights, to help you steer the company’s direction. Allow them to be your partner in strategy, in direction, in accomplishments, and in rewards. Show that you trust them and train them to be accountable. Employees often leave a place to gain more exposure, more responsibility, more challenges, and perhaps more growth. Identify your best talents and figure out what they want on their career graph. Provide them with opportunities to explore their core skills, to use their strengths, and to have the kind of experience that would make them proud. Don’t treat your employees as mere payroll numbers, but reward them with profit shares, bonuses, compensations or any other valuable incentive that your competitors may not be able to provide - which leads us to the next point.
Know Your Competitors like the Back of Your Hand
You have to know your competitors well in order to modify your environment. Be ten steps ahead of your competitors. Have information about their value, their environment, the kind of people they are looking for and the incentives they offer. Of course, you are not to use this information to create false news or spread gossip; instead, it is for you to be able to modify your company culture. So for example, if you know your competitors have a brutal late-hour culture, begin offering your employees flexible work schedules. If you know they have a penchant for overworking their employees, begin offering work from home opportunities. If you know they don’t have any bonus or reward system, begin offering quarterly bonuses. These little changes go a long way in keeping your best employees working for you. Know that it’s not always about the high salary, so if you haven’t been awarding them with these minor incentives, begin now.
Practice and Encourage Modern-Age Leadership
Gone are the days of authoritative and directive leadership. If you’re still a manager or a leader who believes in micromanaging, creating a controlled environment or pressuring your employees into becoming next-gen workaholics, you’re actually driving away your best employees. Millions of people across the globe jump ship simply because of their manager or their boss. All of them cite the age-old problems - controlling bosses, chaotic environment, favoritism, nepotism, no work-life balance, pushing people too hard and so on. In fact, leaders like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk are famous for their brutal workforce strategy, but these guys get away with it because of their brand name. If you’re not Apple, Google, Facebook or Tesla, you might want to change your leadership strategy and understand that your employees cannot thrive if you don’t practice modern-age leadership. Leadership today is not about micromanaging, but about instilling accountability. It’s not about imposition, but about training and mentorship. It’s not about success, but about tolerating and learning from failure.
Provide Employees with Flexibility and Non-Monetary Incentives
Your employees are human beings with needs. They have kids, they have dental appointments, they have mental breakdowns, they have vacations, they have days where they simply can’t get out of bed. The same applies to you. Treat your employees with empathy and provide them with the flexibility that they need to balance their life and their job. Provide them with non-monetary incentives such as a workplace with leisure activities and amenities, a gym membership, a yoga-membership - anything that shows you care for their well-being and their health. Provide them with paid vacations for achieving a big milestone. Arrange for quarterly parties, lunch, birthday celebrations and so on. Create a culture that thrives on celebrating the effort and contribution of your employees and watch as they stand by you through thick and thin.
Employees are not the greedy, needy people the way companies want to portray them. Employees are smart, talented people who choose to work hard to fulfill someone else’s dreams because they need to pay bills. Employees are people who look forward to creating meaning out of their life and their jobs. Sure you can’t please everyone, but you can do your best to ensure that your workplace is considered as one of the best amongst all your competitors. You should strive to create a workplace that people would dream to work at and would think ten times over before they leave. And guess what? It’s never difficult to create a dream workplace. All you need is empathy, ethics, and a balanced approach where you don’t sacrifice people for success and profit.