(By Dan Simmons)

It’s been proven that the top reasons people stay with their employers are working with (and for) people they enjoy; recognition; feeling comfortable in the company culture; and challenging, rewarding work.

With the Thanksgiving holiday (and the end of the year) rapidly approaching, this is a good time to reflect on what you should be doing to retain your top employees.  This is more than just giving thanks for your employees—it’s showing thanks to your employees.

There are other factors besides money that need to be considered when expressing your gratitude to employees and rewarding them for their performance.  Below are five things that should be present the whole year and not just during the holidays:

  1. A healthy work-life balance—Time is just as important to employees as money, and in many cases, more important.  Offering a flexible work schedule immediately makes your employees’ positions (not to mention the company) more attractive to them.  If you can’t offer a flexible schedule, make certain your vacation, personal days, and holiday plans offer enough time for your staff to enjoy a balanced life.
  1. Opportunity for growth within the company—Employees want to know that the company has a clear direction and a specific plan for growth, and they want to know how they fit into that plan.  Consider each of your key employees and determine their career path at the company.  People like to see themselves improving, and the better your people are, the better their performance will be.
  1. A mentoring atmosphere—The advantages of a mentoring atmosphere are numerous.  Suffice it to say, an atmosphere where employees are eager to exchange knowledge and learn from one another drastically improves productivity and retention.
  1. Positive and constructive evaluation techniques—Periodical evaluations are a great opportunity to help employees reach their full potential, not tear them down in any way.  Done properly, they can build loyalty with your employees.
  1. The ability to share the wealth—Okay, you knew I would get around to this topic eventually, but notice where I mentioned it: last.  Standard compensation raises aren’t the way to go, though.  Pay-for-performance is a better alternative.  When employees know they’ll be rewarded for their hard work and the value that they bring, not only will they continue to work hard, they’ll be less likely to consider going somewhere else.

And if you feel it’s appropriate, share the wealth in the form of bonus checks.  You’ll be showing your thanks, ensuring a nicer Christmas for your star performers, and increasing the chances they’ll be staying on board for what will hopefully be a great 2013.

If you have any questions regarding retention or compensation, please contact me at dan@consearch.com.