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June 17, 2019 Melissa Roach

5 strategies for employee retention in Canada’s red hot labour market

These simple management techniques will go a long way towards boosting morale and job satisfaction

As job opportunities surge with the addition of 94,100 new jobs last November, Canadian employers need to invest in their staff’s happiness if they hope to keep them around.

Canada’s unemployment rate dipped down to 5.4 percent in May of 2019 — the lowest point ever recorded by Statistics Canada in over 40 years of comparable data collection. This means that job-seekers are at a great advantage, and the process of hiring and holding onto quality people is more competitive than ever.

Attracting and retaining talented employees is about more than an attractive salary and benefits package — though neither of those would hurt your chances. These simple management techniques will go a long way towards boosting morale and job satisfaction.

1. Hire the right person

Employee retention starts with a good hire. One way to attract staff who will be in for the long haul is to refine and hone your company story. Clearly communicating what your values and goals are as an organization will help match you to people who share your vision.

When vetting candidates, look for more than just the right skills and experience. The ideal candidate will also be a good fit for the culture of your workplace. Ask questions to learn more about who they are and what they want out of a work environment to make sure they will mesh well with other staff and management as well.

2. Conduct regular one-on-ones

Keeping the lines of communication open with your employees is important for a few reasons. Frequent, perhaps quarterly, one-on-one meetings will help build your relationships with staff and help them to feel heard. Give them an opportunity to share ideas and take initiative.

Regular meetings also allow you to gauge what their level of job satisfaction is. Check in often to find out what their goals are, if they’re having any challenges, and what you can do to better support them in their work. Be flexible where you can to meet their needs, whether that means offering options for telecommuting, modified hours, or day-care on-site.

This guy might be a little too happy.

3. Give opportunities for growth

Nobody likes to feel stuck. A job that allows you to learn and grow is more rewarding and interesting than a position that never evolves. Support your staff in their professional development by offering relevant training and skill-building opportunities.

Is there room for career progression within your company? Recognize the potential of your employees to fill more senior internal positions and take on more responsibilities. The possibility of advancement can be a huge motivator for workers and can foster more company loyalty.

4. Provide a positive work environment

Over a lifetime, one person will spend 90,000 hours at work. Your employees are in the office for a third of their life, so their comfort level in the workplace can be a major influence on their happiness.

As an employer, you have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy work environment. Encourage healthy practices like taking frequent breaks from sitting, or staying hydrated. Consider investing in resources that will improve the quality of your employees’ day-to-day wellness, from ergonomic furniture and sit-to-stand desks, to freely available snacks to keep them going. Even small gestures, like a full pot of coffee in the morning can make work a more pleasant place to be.

5. Give feedback and show gratitude

Feeling like you’re underappreciated or not respected is a total motivation-killer. If good work goes unnoticed, staff might begin to question what the value and impact of that work is. Offering feedback and praise costs you nothing, and shows your employees that you care about them and their contributions.

Recognizing and celebrating your team’s accomplishments can build a sense of community and encourage people to continue achieving performance goals. Rewarding people with gestures like raises and promotions, or sending them to represent your business at conferences, shows that you have faith in them and their role at the company.

Keeping your employees happy will not only yield better performance results, it also saves you money. Hiring a new person can be costly, and high turnover has a negative effect on how well a team functions overall. Set your employees — and your business — up for long-term success by making your workplace one where people want to stay.

Melissa Roach

Melissa Roach is a freelance writer based in Vancouver who is interested in urban issues, non-profits, and community-building. She works as a communicator for SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, supporting public programming and partnerships. When Melissa's not creating content, she enjoys puzzling, crafting, and thrifting up a storm.