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Retaining top performers in today’s competitive environment remains a puzzle for many organizations. There are many reasons for this. Some that are uncontrollable - like a natural drive some people have to look for new challenges that are clearly outside a particular organization or simply desire for a career change. But there are also elements of retention that are completely in control of an organization. Related: 5 Ways To Attract (And Keep!) The Best Employees A successful retention strategy involves putting all the pieces of a complex puzzle together – retention efforts will never be completely successful if pieces are missing. This is a primary reason for the continued struggle with retention – related to statistics that show over 65% of employees are currently “seeking other opportunities. Too often, an organization’s efforts are limited to putting only one or two pieces of the puzzle into play. There are excellent resources available on most of the puzzle pieces - from organizations that specialize in recognition, or training, or motivation practices. But, at a minimum, I would argue that:

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It’s a fact of life: we all get frustrated at work. Even in your dream job, you will have a bad day here and there. My CEO had to remind me once that “[we] are all human beings.” We sometimes get so caught up in our roles in the company that we forget that small element. When it comes to employee engagement, could it be that simple? When I was a Yahoo! employee from late 2000 to 2002, I bled purple and yellow. I didn’t just work at Yahoo!; it was a lifestyle for me. I found a workplace where I could be myself: I could have a life-sized cutout of Luke Skywalker in my cubicle, and no one would give it a second thought. My needs were met in my role as a Customer Care Tech for Yahoo! GeoCities (remember that service!?). I felt so proud to be part of a well-known brand with a bright future at the time. Abraham Maslow was a brilliant American psychologist best known for developing the “Hierarchy of Needs.” In the hierarchy, there were five levels of needs: physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization. The workplace can foster all of these needs; however, belonging and esteem are two particular areas that affect employee engagement. Belonging is a need that can be satisfied with a solid team environment; a company culture that is inviting, warm, friendly and supportive. The esteem need is the feeling of importance. Fostering an environment that encourages creativity and, in turn, rewards people for hard work and accomplishments satisfies this need. For example, Kellogg’s Corporation operates weekly group “huddles” to communicate news, sales milestones and achievements openly to encourage community. Sue Platt, HR director at Kellogg’s stated: “Here at Kellogg's listening is a central premise of the way we work. We believe that our employees have some of the best ideas and that a successful company is one that listens to the grassroots feedback and acts on it. Any employee can raise an issue or a suggestion via their rep who will raise it at one of their monthly meetings.” Let’s look at five things your company can do today to foster employee engagement.

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There are many reasons for low employee morale in the workplace, and with employee morale often linked with productivity, good managers have realized that creating a program to improve employee morale can benefit the organization in many ways. Here's how to improve employee morale in the workplace in three tips. 1. Facilitate Communication Between Management And Employees Understanding what makes your employees tick can be the end up being the best time spent by yourself and your organization. Find out the issues that are important to them in their job. The questions and issues an employee may raise include flexibility around their family life, recognition in their job, or absence of other benefits such as a gym membership. 2. Ongoing Training To Keep Up With The Latest Trends And Developments Staying on top of employee training is another way to improve employee morale. A lack of training can signal to employees that you are unwilling to invest in their training and professional development, and can result in low morale. This also has the added benefit of having a more competitive workforce that is ahead of the game in your field. 3. Lastly, Bring Fun And Enjoyment Into The Workplace There any many things that can make an employee workplace a fun and pleasant environment to work in. Try recognizing employees’ birthdays and personal accomplishments, for example. How about setting up an office party as a great way of getting employees together to socialize outside work? This also a great way to recognize accomplishments of individuals. Improving employee morale is a great way to improve the retention of any organization. A high retention rate benefits the organization in terms of efficiency and productivity. A way of bring out the best in managers is to investing in training in managers, companies such as Right Track Consultancy offer management skills training. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Forget retiring Baby Boomers. The real threat to keeping your best people is technology. I wrote about this briefly in my last post, but never before has it been easier to “evacuate the mothership" and go out on your own. Think your entrepreneurial employees can't afford a CRM system? No worries. Salesforce.com has one for $60. No finance experience? Not a problem. Quickbooks and/or Freshbooks.com make accounting fairly painless. Can't take credit cards? Wrong again. Squareup.com lets you swipe cards right on your phone. And the list goes on. This technology has enabled a new generation of entrepreneurs who will continue to seriously fragment the talent pool. As such, it's increasingly important for employers to turn the mirror around and focus inward on key employee retention. Want to keep your CREW in place? Here's what it takes: Communication – I'm always amazed when employees can't articulate the strategic objectives of their company. If you trust someone enough to hire them, you should trust them enough to keep them informed. This not only includes your organization's big-picture planning, but financial health (excluding salary) as well. Rewards – Want to drive short-term results? Give away an iPad. (I'm serious.) But if you're looking for more long-term, sustained performance, focus on a higher-value reward, i.e. appreciation with a strong dose of that other “r" – respect. Engagement – This is Communication 2.0. More than just telling employees what's going on, engagement is about listening to – and implementing – their feedback. Yes, surveys are helpful, but… when was the last time you popped into an employee's office just to ask how things were going? Workplan – Everyone who works for you should have an individual career plan that outlines their performance benchmarks. This document is critical to keeping staff engaged and on-track with your company goals, yet many businesses leave employees alone to “figure it out" on their own. Sadly, the most talented people often “figure out" they'd rather work somewhere else! So while all of this new technology is certainly awesome for entrepreneurs, your job is to convince your staff they'll never need it by giving them a great place to work. As author and leadership expert Tom Peters recently tweeted, “You take care of the people. The people take care of the service. The service takes care of the profit. Then re-invest. Bingo." I couldn't have said it better myself. Emily Bennington, founding partner of Professional Studio 365, leads programs that help companies get the most out of their career newbies, while helping said newbies connect their efforts to the organization's big-picture goals.