?It's no secret that employee retention is becoming increasingly more difficult for companies of all sizes. The damages from losing a quality employee can be costly when you factor in lost productivity, investment in staff training, and a loss of institutional knowledge (the staff's knowledge of business operations). Hunting for a replacement can be costly in terms of time, ad placement costs, and running the risk of a possible lack of qualified applicants. Recruitment companies like The People Link () can help with that process. However, many employers may not realize that by adopting a few simple practices, employee retention and loyalty can be increased immensely - ultimately benefiting your bottom line. 1. Get organized and be consistent. It is imperative to have a set of operating standards in place that apply uniformly to all employees. For a new employee to come in and find a lack of organization of business practices, and no consistency in the handling and establishment of business and staff can be very frustrating and will often lead to a revolving door. If you have an employee handbook, you are way ahead of the game. If not, it doesn't have to be a massive undertaking. Consider drafting a few policies outlining what is expected of employees, and use checklists to make sure you provide the same basic information, tools, supplies, review of benefits, standardized salary charts, and any core employment agreements so that nothing gets forgotten. Some customization per post, and salary is expected, and there will always be a few gray areas, but to vary widely would be dangerous. Consistency is the key. 2. Give out more carrots than sticks. Praise good works in public, and criticize in private. Make certain that your praises outnumber your critiques by a four to one ratio. Consider implementing both a bonus program, but also a regular rewards program, complete with group recognition. Make it real, tied to challenges and successes. If you give out a certificate for every sale made, the reward loses its value, but if you hold a quarterly or monthly contest with clearly outlined goals of achievement, the reward will be appreciated. Rewards don't always have to be tied to sales or productivity actions.Consider a reward for most innovative customer solutions. The employee that goes above and beyond for a customer is one you don't want to lose. We've all heard the horror stories about that impossible boss. Don't be one. 3. Train, then trust. A properly trained staff is imperative to a productive, happy, well-run business. It builds purpose, confidence, job satisfaction, and helps employees expand their skill sets and value to themselves and to the company, but it's surprising how often a new employee is simply shown a desk and never truly taught what to do, or told what results to expect. Take the time to train your team well. The old adage comes to mind: Watch one, Do one, Teach one. If you let them watch you do a task, guide them while they do it, and clearly explain what the result should be, they should be able to duplicate the action correctly to you and later to teach others. Then, let them do their job. Don't hover. Trust them to solve problems, and when they do make mistakes, recognize it as part of the learning curve and offer constructive solutions without harsh criticisms. If you always criticize, they will stop thinking for themselves and that benefits no one. 4. Compensation & Perks. Compensate your employees well. That doesn't always mean dollar signs. Ideally, if you are a well established company, monetary compensation should be competitive, fair company-wide, and with regular performance-based increases. If you can't afford to keep a good employee by offering more money, consider what's important to them. How can you invest in your employees? Consider matching 401(k)s, sending them on training trips, providing tuition reimbursements, offering stock ownerships, or more flexible hours if they have family at home. These things let employees know you care about them as a person and not just as a workhorse. It also lets them know that you are thinking about their future - hopefully one they will share with your company for many years to come. 5. Communicate, and don't hesitate. Just because you are the boss, don't assume you have nothing in common with your employees. If you make it a regular habit to talk to your employees about things in addition to work discussions, you will find it is a great way to build quality relationships, and you can often detect potential problems in your employees before they become destructive to the office morale. There is life outside the office. Let your employees know you respect theirs. 6. Find fun in every day. Productivity is vital to the success and expansion of your business, but the office environment shouldn't be a hostile one. Appearance and tone of the office (including décor) go a long way to making everyone feel more comfortable. It's not just the reception area that needs to be inviting. Make the break room a pleasant place to gather. Convey to your employees that getting the job done is important, but a little laughter (tasteful and appropriate) goes a long way. Encourage your employees to have fun at their work. It will make their work experience more like a career and less like a job. Realize that every business and every person is different, unique and with special gifts and qualities, and adjust your plan accordingly. These guidelines are not hard and fast, but are just that - guides to help you help your employees find a home, and not just a paycheck. Mya Borgman is the Founder and President of The People Link (), a professional recruitment agency committed to finding the ideal job match between employers and job seekers. Take advantage of our hard earned experience gained with the successful placement of over 1,000 candidates. The most frequently filled positions include office and administration, computer technicians and programmers, engineers, office managers and senior executives. Inquiries from both employers and job seekers are held in absolute confidence and treated with discretion. Mya Borgman can be reached at (818) 890-9998 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.