Did you know that, despite the struggling jobs economy, the labor force was at 150 million in 2000, and is expected to hit 159 million by the end of the decade? The labor market in the United States is huge, and to find and keep the best employees, HR departments must struggle to motivate employees and keep them motivated. In recent months, efficiency has risen in the United States, at the cost of new jobs, but ultimately - unless an employer can find a way to keep motivation high - efficiency cannot hold at its current pace - just ask Alan Greenspan, who has been predicting huge growth in the job force for months as efficiency declines.

While adding employees can certainly help the U.S. economy, and certainly adding new employees probably means that companies are doing better, getting the best out of your current employees is - and always will be - the most inexpensive solution to U.S. companies - outside of the devilish outsourcing solution, of course. Why else would the current U.S. economy continue to grow at its current pace without adding new employees.

Add Value without Adding to their Paychecks

So, what can you do to keep those employees efficient - and happy? In general, there are several basic motivators for employees, higher salaries making the top of that list. And while a raise every so often is cheaper than a new hire, money isn't everything to an employee. You can also add more benefits for your employees, but this can add a lot of your companies budget.

Beyond the extra cash and benefits options, one of the better way to retain your employees is simply to make them feel appreciated. Remind your employees that they are making a difference. If they do something well, congratulate them, and - I often found that it was helpful to send out a mass email to the company thanking the employee personally, so that you are recognizing the employee in front of everyone. This not only adds to the appreciation factor for the employee, but other employees are often motivated to do the same, so that they, too, can be recognized company-wide. But, be careful. Use this type of recognition sparingly, otherwise you end up diluting the importance of such an email.

Another way to keep employee morale high - and keep salaries down - is to give your employees gifts for jobs well done. Send congratulatory flowers or gift baskets (who doesn't like chocolate, after all), or buy your star employee a nice pen. This one-time expense is much more inexpensive than a raise. And don't limit gifts to reward a job well done. Send flowers for birthdays, or in recognition of your employees service to the community, or for finishing a marathon. And perhaps one of the finest ways to keep an employee happy is to send a personalized thank you card. Honestly, before I began running a company, as an employee, when I was a wit's end and contemplating leaving my job - sooner rather than later - unless I got a raise within the next week or what have you, a thank you, or a recognition email was generally enough to put leaving out of my mind for a few weeks, at least.

Show Some Respect, Dammit

Another nice addition to the occasional gift, raise, or thank you, is the respect you show your employees. Respect is one of the most important factors in high employee morale. Show your employees some respect by giving them an occasional afternoon off, or by letting them have some personal time to fulfill a goal outside of their job. Obviously, we all have goals and dreams outside of our jobs, and the more you respect your employees goals, the better employee you are going to have. How else do you show your employee respect? Be receptive to your employee's idea, be ready to listen, and give feedback.

Other Options for Employee Retention

So, you can't raise their salaries, you can't afford gifts, thank you notes are not your style, and you can't even respect yourself, much less your employees. What now? Here are a few things: Remember that jobs get old. If someone has been doing the same thing for three years, even if she or he loved it for the first two, they are probably ready to pull their hair out. So, give your employee an opportunity to do something else, something new, and something challenging. Invest in your employees - they are your prime asset. Pay for a class, or teach your employee how to take over a critical function of the company. You might be surprised to learn that some employees will happily take over new projects without an increase in pay just for the chance to do something new.

Finally, if you suspect an employee is unhappy, or if you'd like to find out how to keep a valuable employee on your payroll for as long as possible - open a dialogue, dammit. Talk to your employees. Sit down and ask your employee what would make him or her happier. What it would take to make your employee's job satisfactory. The thing is, Randy Newman was right - "Money Matters." But you might learn that it's not everything.

From India, Gurgaon
Employee Retention Specialist
+1 Other

I would strongly recommend the use of periodic stay interviews.
In my experience these are the most effective way to retain key employees.
Don`t need to take long; 15 mins if you are very busy.
Make sure you listen. Be prepared to negotiate.

From United Kingdom, London
Most managers believe that compensation is the driver of performance. When employees are asked they usually say it is challenge on the job, empowerment, environment, being part of the team, and great boss who adds value to them.
From India, Mumbai

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