How to Keep Team Members Happy in a Competitive Job Market

No employer wants to lose a great employee. But with the unemployment rate at the lowest it has been since 1969, retaining talented staff can be challenging because so many companies are looking for stellar employees. What are some ways to keep team members happy in this competitive job market?

First, the sobering news for employers.

“Many workers are planning to make career moves in the near future,” says Chris Brinkman, district president of Robert Half in Chicago, who reports that 46 percent of Chicago workers the company surveyed plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months.

Understanding why these folks want to move on is an important step toward figuring out how to keep your most talented people. As Brinkman says, “It’s key for employers to understand what their workers want to get out of their job and then cater to those needs.”

According to Brinkman, the employees in the Robert Half survey cited three reasons they’ve decided to pursue new opportunities: they want more money (32%), more time off/better benefits (23%) and/or a promotion (21%).

“Workers are commonly looking for higher compensation and better benefits, but some employees may be looking for more work-life balance or career advancement opportunities,” notes Brinkman, who offers some tips “for fostering a workplace that keeps top talent around.”

1. Start with compensation. While money isn’t everything, it’s still one of the more compelling factors when it comes to retention. “Feeling fairly compensated plays a big role in overall job satisfaction, and managers should be fully informed in order to have honest conversations with their team members,” Brinkman stresses. Resources like Robert Half’s Salary Guides offer information that can help you compare your compensation package with what your competitors are offering.

2. Offer flexibility. More than ever, employees want a better balance between their work and personal lives. “By giving staff the flexibility to handle priorities at home, you can reduce the chance they’ll jump ship if one of your competitors offers them a little more money,” Brinkman says. Flextime, a compressed workweek and job sharing are a few benefits that can go a long way toward helping them achieve that balance. “Thanks to technology, working remotely has become the go-to solution for many workers and companies,” Brinkman adds.

3. Promote career satisfaction. Do you ever stop to think about your team’s happiness? If not, you should! “A key part of any serious retention effort is carving out time to ensure your employees still feel they are in the right workplace environment,” Brinkman says. “Have discussions to find out if staff think they are still being challenged in their role, what they enjoy most about the job and whether they still get that rewarding glow when they’re shown how much their contributions are appreciated.”

4. Provide opportunities for professional development. While this is important for all employees (“When you encourage and facilitate your employees’ professional development, the message you send is that you care about it as much as they do, Brinkman says), it is especially important for millennials. “They want stretch assignments as well as clear paths for career progression,” he explains. “Make sure your professional development efforts go beyond mere training, which is designed to help staff perform the tasks that are part of their jobs. Focus on development that truly helps employees build interpersonal and leadership skills that ready them for more advanced roles.”

5. Offer a mentoring program. This is more than a nice idea — it’s a smart and cost-effective retention technique, too, because it fosters loyalty and increases an employee’s potential. “Mentees gain skills that enable them to contribute at a higher level, while mentors build leadership skills,” Brinkman points out. “And don’t forget that mentors are also employees you want to retain. The sense of gratification they get from helping others could prevent them from shifting their gaze to other organizations.”

6. Think beyond traditional health benefits. “More and more companies are focused on all aspects of well-being in their recruitment and retention efforts,” Brinkman says. In fact, most employers polled in a recent Robert Half survey said they offer physical (63%), financial (65%) and mental (74%) wellness programs, he notes.

“A company lives and dies on the quality and commitment of its people,” Brinkman concludes. “If you make sure your employees remain happy and engaged, you may just earn their loyalty.”


(Article written by Kathleen Furore)