Innovative Strategies for Developing and Retaining Employees


Davinder Kaur
Associate Professor
Department of Business Management

Innovation is a change in the thought process for doing something. It is the useful application of new inventions or discoveries. It may also refer to radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations. Innovation is distinguished from invention, invention is an idea made manifest, and innovation, ideas applied successfully in practice. In economics the change must increase value; either customer value or producer value. The goal of innovation is positive change, to make someone or something better. If innovation leads to increased productivity , it will be source of increasing wealth in an economy. This paper is an effort to judge what innovative can be done to encourage and motivate employees.

Talking in terms of the organizational context, innovation may be linked to performance and growth through improvements in competitive positioning, efficiency, productivity, quality, market share, etc. All organizations can innovate i.e. restaurants, hospitals, universities, and local governments etc.

Innovation typically adds value; innovation may also have a negative or destructive effect as the new developments change old organizational forms and practices or clear away the same. If the organizations want to survive they need to innovate effectively otherwise they may be destroyed by other innovators.

Innovation can be described in 3 steps:

1. It is the result of some amount of time and effort into researching an idea,
2. Some larger amount of time and effort into developing this idea,
3. Some very large amount of time and effort into commercializing this idea into a market place with customers.

If you do not these 3 steps, you can not expect results for your Innovativeness because only commercializing the idea will lead to revenue and profit generation.

These days it is becoming difficult to retain the best employees. Introducing innovativeness in the work culture definitely helps the organizations to retain the talent with themHard work and loyalty of employees is the key factors for growth and progress of any organization or company. Before hiring any employee, you check all the things related to him like his personal background or his professional background. Make various interviews which may be oral as well as written of the applicant. After doing all this, you will certainly have an employee who has all the qualities and knowledge required for your organization. Suddenly one day you come to know that he want to leave your job because there is lack of motivation in the company so it's very necessary to motivate and retain your employees at certain interval of time. . Organizations are providing monetary and non monetary incentives to retain employees. But now days, organizations need to make lot more efforts to capture the employees with them.

In today's competitive world, companies are competing not only for market share but also for retaining the best talent with them. It is because employees leave organizations for many reasons which are unknown to their employers. Retaining the best talent is becoming difficult day by day. Employers have to listen to employees' needs and implement innovative retention strategies to make employees feel valued. Innovation & retention methods can have a significant and positive impact on an organization's turnover rate.

Turnover Facts and Figures

Every employer knows that Turnover is costly. According to Right Management, a talent and career management consulting firm, it costs nearly three times an employee's salary to replace someone, which includes recruitment, severance, lost productivity, and lost opportunities.

Certain facts are given below:

  • Over 50 % of people recruited in to an organization will leave within 2 years.
  • One in four of new hires will leave within 6 months.
  • Nearly 70% of organizations report that staff turnover has a negative financial impact due to the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement employee and the overtime work of current employees that's required until the organization can fill the vacant position.
  • Nearly 70 % of organizations report having difficulties in replacing staff.
  • Approximately 50% of organizations experience regular problems with employee retention. (According to Life Work Solutions , a provider of staff retention and consulting services)

However, according to strategic planning consultant Leigh Branham, SPHR, 88% of employees leave their jobs for reasons other than pay. However, 70% of managers think employees leave mainly for pay-related reasons.

So, Employers need to implement retaining employees as given below

R - Reward Competitively
E - Encouragement & Expectations
T - Training & Development
A - Annual Review cycles
I  - Inform & Involve
N - Nurture

Understanding Reasons behind Turnover:

Branham says there are seven main reasons why employees leave a company:

1. Employees feel the job or workplace is not same as what they expected.
2. Mismatch between the job and person.
3. There is too little training/ coaching and feedback.
4. Very few growth and advancement opportunities.
5. Employees feel devalued and unrecognized.
6. Stress from overwork and have a work/life imbalance.
7. Loss of trust and confidence in senior leaders.

Possible Retention Strategies:

In order to come across problems mentioned above certain strategies need to be developed such as;

Training: Providing time to time training reinforces employee's sense of value. Through training, employers help employees achieve goals and ensure they have a solid understanding of their job requirements.

Mentoring: A mentoring program integrated with a goal-oriented feedback system provides a structured mechanism for developing strong relationships within an organization and is a solid foundation for employee retention and growth. With a mentoring program, an organization pairs someone more experienced in a discipline with someone less experienced in a similar area, with the goal to develop specific competencies, provide performance feedback.

Instill a positive culture: A series of values need to be brought among employees such as honesty, excellence, attitude, respect, and teamwork. A company that creates the right culture will have an advantage when it comes to attracting and keeping good employees.

Communication for building credibility: No matter what the size of the organization, communication is central to building and maintaining credibility. Many employers get communication to "flow up" through a staff advisory council (or similar group) which solicits and/or receives employees' opinions and suggestions and passes them on to upper management. It's also important for employees to know that the employer is really listening and responds/ acknowledges employee input.

Appreciation via compensation and benefits: Employer need to offer things like competitive salaries, profit sharing, bonus programs, pension and health plans, paid time off etc. this gives a powerful message to employees about their importance at the organization. The rewards given to employees must be meaningful in order to impact their perception of the organization and therefore have a marked influence on its retention efforts. Last but not the least, if an organization promises a reward, it should keep that promise.

Encourage referrals and recruit from within: Employer must encourage current employees for offering referrals as it can help in minimizing confusion of job expectations. Current employees can realistically describe a position and the environment to the individual he/she is referring. An employer can also lessen the impact of turnover is to hire from within, since current employers have already discovered who are a good fit in the organization.

Training/feedback: It's important for companies to give feedback and training to employees so that goal congruence is there. It automatically results in alignment of individual goals with the goals of the company. Employer should provide intensive feedback for the employee in the starting few months as well as various formal and informal feedbacks to employees throughout the year.

Growth opportunities: It's important to provide employees with adequate job challenges that will expand their knowledge in their field. An organization should organize such activities like workshops, software, or other tools to help employees increase their understanding of themselves and enhance their goal-setting efforts. If employees know that the companies are investing in them and in their career then they will be more committed to an organization.

Make employees feel valued: Employees should be rewarded at a high level to motivate even higher performance. The use of cash payouts could be used for on-the-spot recognition. These rewards have terrific motivational power, especially when given as soon as possible after the achievement. Sometimes a small tea party/ lunch can be organized to reward any performer. One of the options is asking employees input as to what rewards might work best in order to motivate them.  Conducting regular meetings and surveys will also enable employees to share their input.

Balancing Life/Work and work stress: Maintaining balance between personal life and professional life is utmost important for the employer. It can be given in the form of offering nontraditional work schedules (such as a compressed work week, telecommuting, and flextime) or extra holidays. When work-life balance is structured properly, both the employee and employer come out ahead. For example, the employer will experience more productivity in the workplace because employees will be less stressed, healthier, and thus, more productive. Encouraging employees to set work/life goals, such as spending more time with their children, communicates that you really do want them to have a life outside of work and achieve a healthy work/life balance.

Foster belongingness and confidence in senior leaders: Employer need to make employees believe that upper management is competent and that the organization will be successful. An employer should be able to bring confidence and feeling of belongingness. For example, an employer shouldn't talk about quality and then push employees to do more work in less time.

Working Atmosphere: Another strategy for motivating and retaining employees is, there should be healthy office working atmosphere because employees get lot of motivation by good working atmosphere. Working place should be attractively designed and maintained. The working atmosphere should be free from any kind of politics and bad things.

Employees Should Be Independent: If employees do the work in their own style then it can result more beneficial in comparison to the work set on conditions so it's very necessary that they should be independent as it makes the working environment healthy and light.

Employees Expectations: Employer needs to find out what your employees want. Only salary isn't always most important. For many employees most important at work is the satisfaction that comes from a job well done, being recognized and appreciated by the management, and having the flexibility to balance work with personal obligations.

a) Extra time off: Providing extra time off is a simple way to offer a desired benefit without cutting into your bottom line. The extra time off is a win-win; it provides employees with an opportunity to catch up on personal business. This will bring renewed commitment to their work and a feeling of rejuvenation among the employees

b) Bonuses for meeting targets: Offering employees a bonus for meeting certain targets is another motivator to ensure an employee's hard work is rewarded. With the revenue made from reaching company goals, company can afford to share the reward with the employees who made it happen - and who will likely make it happen again.

c) Flexible schedules: Most employees desire a work schedule that easily enables them to balance work with their personal life. To meet these demands, consider offering options such as telecommuting, flextime, job sharing, and shift swapping when appropriate. Employers that fail to offer their employees the flexibility to leave work early to care for a sick child or to attend a parent-teacher conference are not likely to keep quality employees around for very long.

d) Increased responsibilities: Every employee is interested in performing work that is challenging. Whereas, work that is repetitive or requires little thought often results in disengagement. Increase job responsibilities and you will likely see an increase in dedication and commitment.

e) Make advancement opportunities known: Employees that work toward a personal goal, such as career growth are motivated to work hard. So, let your employees know they're doing well, inform them of advancement opportunities, and work with them to help them reach their career goals.

f) Just say "thank you": It's the thought that counts. So if you can't afford a pay increase this year, think of other creative ways to show your employees that they're appreciated. Simple forms of recognition, such as praise, thank you notes, and "employee of the month" awards can go a long way in keeping your employees happy.

g) Tie rewards to performance: Employer should tied rewards to job performance, employees are more likely to put forth the effort and produce quality results. On the contrary, when employees come to expect pay increases or other rewards "just because", their performance is likely to remain marginal.

h) Offer fair and competitive salaries: Fair compensation alone does not guarantee employee loyalty, but offering below-market wages makes it much more likely that employees will look for work elsewhere. In fact, research shows that if incomes lag behind comparable jobs at a company across town by more than 10 percent, workers are likely to bolt. To retain workers, conduct regular reviews of the salaries you offer for all job titles entry-level, experienced staff and supervisory-level. Compare your department's salaries with statistically reliable averages. If there are significant discrepancies, you probably should consider making adjustments to ensure that you are inline with the marketplace.

i) Train the front-line supervisors, managers and administrators: It can't be said often enough: People stay or leave because of their bosses, not their companies. A good employee/manager relationship is critical to employee satisfaction and retention. Give them the training they need to develop good supervisory and people-management skills.

j) Make someone accountable for retention: Measure the turnover rate and hold someone (maybe you!) responsible for reducing it. In too many workplaces, no one is held accountable when employees leave, so nothing is done to encourage retention.

k) Foster an environment of teamwork: It takes effort to build an effective team, but the result is greater productivity, better use of resources, improved customer service and increased morale. Here are a few ideas to foster a team environment in your department:

* Make sure everyone understands the department's purpose, mission or goal
* Encourage discussion, participation and the sharing of ideas.
* Rotate leadership responsibilities depending on your employees' abilities and the needs of the team.
* Involve employees in decisions; ask them to help make decisions through consensus and collaboration.
* Encourage team members to show appreciation to their colleagues for superior performance or achievement.

l) Reduce the paperwork burden: If employees spend nearly as much time filling out paperwork, it's time for a change. Paperwork pressures can add to the stress and burnout that employees feel. Eliminate unnecessary paperwork; convert more paperwork to an electronic format; and hire non-tech administrative staff to take over as much of the paperwork burden as is allowed under legal or regulatory restrictions.

m) Provide a variety of assignments: Try to identify your employees' talents and then encourage them to stretch their abilities into new areas. Have someone who likes planning and coordinating events? Ask him to organize a departmental open house. Know a good critical-thinker?

n) Communicate openly Employees are more loyal to a company when they believe managers keep them informed about key issues. Is a corporate merger in the works? Is a major expansion on the horizon?

o) Give people the best equipment and supplies possible: No one wants to work with equipment that's old or constantly breaking down. Ensure that your equipment is properly maintained, and regularly upgrade machinery, computers and software. In addition, provide employees with the highest quality supplies you can afford. Cheap, leaky pens may seem like a small thing, but they can add to employees' overall stress level.

Don't forget due to employees you make you look good!

The dilemma which the organizations are facing is whether to invest more time and money fine-tuning their recruitment strategy or to pay extra attention to retaining the talent they already have.  Think of retention as re-recruiting your workforce. Recognize that what attracts a candidate to a particular job is often different from what keeps that person there. While salary certainly is a key consideration for potential employees, pay alone won't keep them in a job. Advantageous aspects other than strictly compensation attract good employees; something more than a number retains them. Today employees are looking for a career package, including a comfortable company culture, career path, diversity of responsibilities, and a work/life balance. For retaining good employees in the organization, it's very necessary to motivate them timely. A good working atmosphere and proper training are very necessary. There should be support and timely benefit should be rewarded to the employees for encouraging them to give their best in the organization development and progress. These benefits can be given in the form of money, promotion or even if few words of praise are said to the employee then also he will be motivated to do the work enthusiastically. Working atmosphere should be light and full of fun as this helps the worker in doing their work with enjoyment. Employer should have full faith on his employees and they must be free to take decision related to various issues of company. Employer's management and leadership skills make such a working atmosphere where employees feel comfortable, confident and motivated in working. By these techniques, an employer can not only motivate his employees but he can easily retain them for long time.

Davinder Kaur
Associate Professor
Department of Business Management

Source: E-mail November 10, 2010


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