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3 Tips for Employee Retention in the Gig Economy

In a gig economy, attracting talent can be easy. Keeping them, however, can be tricky. And, yes, short term employees can seem attractive: lower pay, less time off, etc., but there is a tradeoff. The more employees move on, the more time you spend hiring than running your business. The hiring process is costly and time consuming, and your current employees won’t appreciate constantly picking up the slack while waiting for an open position to be filled. This has the potential of creating job dissatisfaction in them leading them to leave, creating another opening to fill, and, well, you see where we are going with this.

Longer termed employees also have a lot of institutional knowledge that can’t just be put into a training manual. They know how your business operates, they know when to take risks and when to stay the course, they function to make your business run like a well-oiled machine. This helps to keep productivity up and costs down. It seems like a pretty good trade off.

So, how do you create an environment that makes people want to stay? Here are three tips to consider for those that cost little more than time:

    1. Make yourself accessible
      Is your work space in the same area as your employees? Keep the door open, or post “Open Door” hours, so any employee can come by to share ideas, concerns, or just chat about the latest episode of your favorite TV show. Are you located separately from your workforce? Make a point of regularly visiting with your employees. Talk to them, see what they are up to, ask them for ideas on how they think things could be done better. You will be surprised by the amount of creativity you have working for you. This can only be good for your small business.
    2. Make the work environment less stuffy
      Yes, some rules are necessary (and required by law) to make for a comfortable work environment for all, but that doesn’t mean you have to be all button up business all the time. Look for areas in your business where you can break the rules of the traditional office environment. Maybe it’s allowing your employees to wear denim, maybe it’s giving those who can the option of working remotely (even on occasion), maybe it’s allowing people to personalize their workspace. Better yet, talk with your employees (see tip 1) to find out what touches would make them happier and more productive. You may not be able to do all of them, but their suggestions could spur other ideas to create an atmosphere people are happy to come to every day.
    3. Give credit where credit is due
      Ideas can come from anywhere and the best ones won’t always come from you. Guess what? That’s ok. Not just ok, but great. There is still a common feeling out there that ideas must come from the top to be given the time of day. Countless time is wasted trying to frame them with a “How can I make *insert boss’ name here* think this was their idea?” Even worse, employees may not even pass on ideas assuming they won’t receive credit for their ingenuity. Next thing you know, they are out the door and giving their creativity to a competitor, or starting their own business with what could have been a game changing idea for your company. This doesn’t mean you need to throw a parade for everyone whose idea is fruitful, but acknowledging the source of them will go a long way to keeping these smart employees in the fold. You can be happy knowing that your leadership inspired that kind of creativity.

Leadership is the key to retention
The saying is “people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses.” While this won’t always be the case, you should always keep this in the back of your mind. If you are seeing a high turnover rate, it’s a signal that things aren’t right and you need to investigate and correct what is going wrong. Ultimately, you should always strive to be the kind of boss you would want to work for.

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