Keeping Your Staff

Retention Strategies that Work

We all know the competition for finding good employees has become increasingly difficult. This makes it more important than ever to keep the good ones we already have. Focusing on ways to motivate and engage your staff is key to successful employee retention.

Back in 1990, Professor William Kahn held in-depth interviews with employees. He found that for an employee to feel engaged, they had to:
* Feel that their work was meaningful and made a difference
* Feel valued, trusted, and respected
* Feel secure and self-confident

In other words, the more an employee feels part of a community, the more likely it is that they are engaged with what they do. It seems quite simple, but it’s surprisingly easy and common to overlook these factors. The changes to the job market, especially within the retail and service industries, makes the need for effective employee engagement strategies even more imperative. Here are some proven strategies to consider for your business.

Encourage and Reward Feedback

Employees thrive on the opportunity to not just work for the business, but also contribute to its success. Your front-line workers often know the intricacies of the business intimately. Allow them to speak up. Offer an incentive for any implemented idea that impacts a key business driver—scheduling (labour costs), sales promotions (increased revenue), or even how to decrease expenses (saving you money). The reward doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. A gift certificate for dinner and a movie or perhaps a nice bottle of their favourite wine might be enough.

Employees thrive on the opportunity to not just work for the business, but also contribute to its success.

Sometimes the smallest changes can make a significant difference for a business. Allow staff to feel like they are making that difference. You may be surprised by the ideas that come forward.

Celebrate Teamwork

It’s always important to get together and celebrate teamwork. As part of this celebration you could arrange a night of wine and spirit tasting. Suppliers may offer to help you with the location, supplies, or even facilitating a knowledge session. Your employees get out for a night of fun and team building. You will want to make sure everyone gets home safely, so arrange for group transportation or taxi vouchers to reduce any risk of liability.

Offer Education

To keep your employees growing, you could offer wine, beer, or spirits training and certification. There are many wine courses offered online. Engage your employees while on shift by encouraging them to complete this training during quiet periods. Building additional knowledge will allow your employees to feel secure and confident in providing recommendations to customers. They also bring that knowledge into their personal lives, which may ignite a passion for even more education.

Develop Leadership

One other way to increase employee engagement is to offer a development plan for employees you see have leadership potential. Management trainee programs often focus on both on-the-job and academic learning. Providing trainees with a strong knowledge base of operations combined with intense leadership training proves to be an excellent development plan. If it is all mapped out and budgeted for ahead of time, everyone can commit to the program and know what’s in store for them.

Show Respect in the Workplace

Now let’s turn our attention to an increasingly hot topic in the workplace. Wikipedia defines respect as a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered essential or held in high esteem or regard; it conveys a sense of admiration for good or valuable qualities; and it is also the process of honouring someone by exhibiting care, concern, or consideration for their needs or feelings.
Showing respect in the workplace from an employer’s perspective can manifest in many ways. One area of concern that is common in many workplaces is workplace bullying and harassment. You may think this isn’t happening in your workplace, but some form of disrespectful, controlling behaviour may very well be happening at any level of the organization. Some statistics show up to 50% of workers have experienced bullying and harassment in the workplace. Having regular communication with your employees and providing an open-door policy will help. Create a safe environment for employees to feel comfortable coming forward with concerns.
Many provinces have already introduced legislation on bullying in the workplace. Take the lead and create your policy detailing what a respectful workplace looks like and what it doesn’t. Define bullying, harassment, and discrimination and outline what employees should do if they experience or witness it. And lastly, clearly define the consequences of such behaviour. Ensure all employees are familiar with this policy, and ask them to sign acknowledging they have read, understand, and been given the opportunity to ask questions. If a complaint comes forward, be as objective as possible and place yourself outside the situation so you can see all angles of the situation. A Respectful Workplace Policy demonstrates your intention to create a positive workplace filled with respect and care for all.

Building additional knowledge will allow your employees to feel secure and confident in providing recommendations to customers.

Safety First

Another area that is held in high regard by employees is workplace safety. Let’s use robbery as an example. Do you have training and drills on what to do in case of an emergency such as a robbery? Consider hiring a professional to come and speak with the team on what to do when faced with such a situation. Many retired police officers now offer this type of training on a consultant basis. Ask yourself, what precautions do I have in place? Then, create a training manual for new employees so they are aware of every measure to keep themselves safe.

Business Retreat

One last consideration for you to ponder is taking the leaders in your organization on a learning outing or retreat. Many large cities such as Edmonton or Calgary have various business and motivational speakers available throughout the year who can offer inspiration and positivity as you strive to create continued business growth with your team. An event like this allows your leaders to feel like they’re an important part of the bigger picture, and their new knowledge and skills transfer back into your business. Your employees may even find some of their new knowledge can be adapted into their personal lives. Win-win situations create great momentum.
Employees stay where they feel appreciated, respected, and see themselves growing and developing. Providing these opportunities will increase the likelihood of them not only remaining on the team, but also bragging about where they work. It may all be as simple as remembering “your vibe attracts your tribe”.

Veronica Lyver is a Partner with HR West Consulting. As a Human Resources and Labour Relations Consultant, she works with clients across Alberta and BC through both HR West Consulting ( and Hospitality Industrial Relations (