The art of staff retention

October 8, 2021 Christina DeBusk

A woman in a warehouse who has learned the art of staff retention

There’s a bit of science behind retaining employees long-term in that implementing certain time-tested processes and procedures can compel them to stay.

But there’s also an art to building a company that, once someone becomes a part of it, they wouldn’t dream of ever working anywhere else. What’s behind the art of staff retention?

Being creative

While science rewards the finding of averages, means, patterns and norms, art rewards creativity. Artists are known for thinking beyond what is typical or common, often providing more of an outside-the-box interpretation while also offering more inventive and innovative solutions.

When it comes to retaining your best staff, don’t be afraid to consider strategies or techniques that are not commonplace. Instead of instantly dismissing ideas because they’ve never been tried before or they seem too far out to really work, stay as open-minded as possible. Sometimes it is the most far-fetched approach that stands to offer the best results.

Creativity task: Ask employees of all levels to provide 1-3 of their most creative ideas for increasing staff retention. Encourage them to think beyond the normal strategies (paying more, better benefits, etc.). The more “out there,” the better!

Connecting emotion

In addition to being creative, art is also emotional. It connects with people on a deeper level. As a result, they feel more tied to it. They develop this sentimental attachment that withstands the test of time. This is the same level of attachment you want to develop with your staff.

Admittedly, the idea of using emotion may seem foreign because, in business, it is generally advised to leave feelings out of the mix. You don’t want to make decisions for your company based on how you feel, for instance. Instead, you want to rely on numbers and metrics and intelligently forecasted predictions.

Though all of this is true, there is some value in increasing employees’ emotional connection to their role within your business. To do this, help them see that what they’re doing isn’t just a job that helps the company earn more money. Get them to realize that every action they take serves a bigger purpose.

For example, a customer service rep isn’t just handling complaints. They have the ability to reduce people’s stress levels while providing a bit of positivity in their day. And a delivery driver doesn’t just make sure the customer receives their goods on time. They are an important piece of the logistical chain and, without them, people would lose access to the items that make their lives better, easier and happier.

Connecting emotion task: Make a list of all of the positions within your company. Find ways to connect what they do to increasing someone else’s quality of life. The stronger you can make this connection, the greater value they will feel in the work they do.

Incorporate all of the senses

Art isn’t just visual. Some pieces of art are designed to be experienced with the other senses. Music is an auditory art. Creating new culinary dishes is all about taste and texture. What senses do you work to satisfy when it comes to retaining your staff?

Remember that people find joy in different mediums. While one person may find more value in something visual, another might be more motivated by sound. There are also people for whom taste, touch, or smell may play a bigger role. If you want to appeal to each one, it’s important to find ways to incorporate all of the senses.

For example, one way to appeal to employees who are auditory is to allow them to play their favorite music while working. For those who are visual, maybe you let them paint a mural on one of the walls.

Sense task: Make five columns on a page and put a sense at the top of each one (sight, sound, taste, smell and touch). Try to come up with at least three ways to make your workplace more appealing by incorporating each one.

Need more advice on retaining your staff and reducing turnover? Check out our exclusive retention content library here or get in touch to speak with one of our staffing experts

About the Author

Christina M. DeBusk creates small business content for a variety of publications, some of which include Businessing Magazine, Compendent, Chiropractic Economics, and more. She is also the author behind the column, "The Successful Solopreneur.

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