As many businesses face worker shortages for several reasons, executives and managers are focused on reducing employee turnover. Retention in the direct selling industry typically refers to the distributor field, but it’s just as important for corporate employees. Keeping good employees around saves money, helps build culture, and presents a strong reputation to distributors. Here are seven strategies to help increase employee retention.
1 / INVEST IN professional development
According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report, 94 percent of employees surveyed said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their professional development. The global skills shortage report by “SHRM: Better Workplaces. Better World.” revealed that 75 percent of employers say it’s challenging to find candidates with the skills they need. Providing or supporting opportunities to learn new skills can help increase camaraderie and show employees you want to invest in their development. This can be done inside the company or by paying for employees to attend outside conferences and training programs. Increasing the skills of existing workers also helps avoid the need to recruit outside consultants.
2 / Create unique opportunities for career advancement and experiences
A Harvard Business Review article noted that, “employees who remain in the same role for an extended period are more likely to leave an organization.” Career advancement doesn’t always mean promotions. It can also include new roles or opportunities to advance and taking on new challenges. Many employees don’t desire nor possess the skills to take on manager roles. They may, however, be willing to teach or mentor junior members. Such roles can take pressure off existing managers. A lateral move that allows them to flex different muscles or grow new skillsets can be motivating. Attending distributor events also helps corporate employees understand the culture, challenges and mindset of the field they are tasked with supporting.
3 / Foster stronger relationships between managers and employees
Do your employees like their managers? Not liking or trusting their managers is one of the main reasons employees leave a company. They like to be treated as individual people with unique goals and skills. Instead of doing only yearly reviews, try implementing quarterly or even monthly catch-up meetings to discuss achievements, areas of improvements and how managers can support employees. Make sure employees feel like their concerns are being heard and that they feel they have a voice in the mission of the company. Great field leaders build lasting relationships with their teams on an ongoing, individual basis, so it’s important for corporate managers to reflect that same rhythm and structure.
4 / Improve the onboarding process
Searching for and hiring the right employee is just the beginning. Making sure they are properly onboarded is critical to making them feel welcome and equipped with the tools and support to do their job. Create excitement and reduce challenges to help limit quick turnover. An SHRM survey of 350 human resources leaders found that 76 percent of organizations are not effectively onboarding their new hires. Some companies have implemented forms of gamification to create a fun and personalized onboarding experience that new hires complete at their own pace.
94% of employees surveyed said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their professional development.
5 / Appreciate and recognize employees on a regular basis
This is a core principle in the direct selling industry when it comes to field recognition, but it’s crucial for corporate employees as well, especially when they see the amount of effort that goes into distributor appreciation. A Gallup poll showed that 65 percent of people feel unappreciated at their job. This can make employees feel withdrawn and unenthusiastic. Simply showing gratitude or complimenting a specific task or project goes a long way. Public recognition and awards, celebrating work anniversaries or providing space for relaxation should be focused on helping drive desired behaviors and actions. Also keep in mind that not everyone desires public recognition at a big event or gathering—tailor the reward and recognition to the person whenever possible.
6 / Provide flexible working environments
Most businesses over the past year and a half have had to create flexible working opportunities for employees. Working remotely, flexible hours, video conferencing, leveraging new technologies—many companies even discovered more beneficial work environments when exploring these ideas. An employee’s ability to work remotely has become a valued asset for some businesses, even helping to reduce the need for office space, equipment and other overhead costs. Cutting down on commute time can also increase employee retention. Robert Half, a human resource consulting firm, found that 23 percent of workers have quit a job because of a bad commute. Allowing more flexibility shows employees you care about their livelihoods, mental health and family obligations.
7 / Avoid feelings of being overworked and overwhelmed
Working more hours doesn’t always result in better production or quality. An Economist.com report found that productivity drops for every additional hour of work. Putting in some extra work hours is sometimes necessary, but managers should pay close attention to the frequency. Keep an open dialogue to understand how much individual employees can handle. Encouraging workers to take some time off when needed shows you care for their wellbeing.
From the December 2021 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.