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How to Make Your Employees Happy — and Avoid Losing Them

Keeping talent in-house is one of the biggest challenges facing companies today.

Americans are finally more confident with the state of the economy, and that’s causing more people to leave their jobs in search of other opportunities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, November 2014 saw around 2.5 million people quit their jobs. But what does that mean for you?

If you’re a manager or HR professional, it means taking a hard look at the reasons people quit their jobs and what you can do to keep them happy:

Rewards issues

Employees need recognition. In the past, that has typically meant raises and bonuses. Today, more and more employees are looking for better advancement opportunities. Recent surveys by LinkedIn and BambooHR show that the No. 1 reason people leave is a lack of advancement. Compensation comes in third.

If a poor reward system is causing your top employees to leave, it’s time to make a change. Focus on how you advance people in your office. If you find that you are not looking internally first when hiring for managerial positions, change your priorities.

If you are hiring internally, be sure to make employees aware of your internal mobility programs. LinkedIn’s exit survey suggests that even when companies have internal mobility programs, most employees don’t know about them. Making your employees aware of their internal mobility opportunities is the first step towards showing them your company is invested in their career.

Another great way to tackle employee recognition is through peer-to-peer recognition programs, like Bonusly and Globoforce  . These programs combine recognition from peers and managers with tangible rewards, which leads to higher employee motivation than simple verbal or written recognition.

Whether it is with increased vacation days, a peer-to-peer recognition system or better career advancement opportunities, find ways to recognize your employees and they will want to stay in-house.

Manager issues

Everyone has heard some form of the saying “People quit their bosses, not their jobs.”

Well, it’s true. Employees are looking for a strong leader that understands their needs and trusts their abilities. Something as simple as a micromanaging boss or a boss who delegates everything to busy employees could be sending your top talent packing.

BambooHR found that 80 percent of 30-44 year olds consider a boss who doesn’t trust them or empower them a “deal breaker.” These employees often feel like they have earned their role on the team and should be trusted to perform their duties at a high level. Managers who try to control every aspect of a project can alienate their employees and create situations that encourage job hunting.

As you look for ways to keep your top talent in-house, consider how you or your managers interact with employees. If possible, delegate new responsibilities. Put your employees in situations where they are empowered to make decisions and add value to a project. This will show them that you trust their opinions and value their work.

Creating manager-employee relationships, built on trust and empowerment, will increase employee engagement and build company loyalty in your top talent.

Work issues

Many employees also consider the nature of their work and their work-life balance key issues, when considering leaving a company.

Believe it or not, employees want to be challenged. They want to be passionate about the work they do, and it should be your goal to make sure they are. Have frequent conversations with employees, to make sure they are engaged and challenged at work. If not, reassess your projects and find ways to increase the level of work that your “bored” employees receive.

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Another thing to consider is work-life balance. According to both the LinkedIn and BambooHR surveys, work-life balance ranks in the top three reasons for considering quitting. If you have a company culture that emphasizes working after hours and on the weekends, you may be scaring off your top talent.

Talk to your employees and find out how you can create a better work-life balance. If you hear that your employees want the option to work from home, consider how a remote work policy might work in your office.

Focus on communication

You need to keep your best employees happy, and the best way to do that is to keep an open line of communication.

Review your company’s practices and discuss how they affect your employees with your employees. Remember, employees are looking for a manager who cares.

Keeping an open line of communication between you and your employees will build better relationships and help you determine how to keep your top talent happy.

Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.

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