Employee Retention: A Sustainable Business Practice

August 3, 2023 - 13 minutes read

Employee retention should be part of your sustainable business strategy.

It’s 2023, and if your company is not actively embracing sustainability, it’s time to lace up your sneakers and get ready. You have some ground to catch up, or you risk jeopardizing the future of your business.

Before we start running, though, it’s prudent to take a step back and look at the course ahead. First, let’s define what “embracing sustainability” means.

Sustainable companies focus on maximizing all of their assets and resources while also proactively reducing or repurposing waste. This applies to all facets of business, including perhaps the most valuable yet under-appreciated resource, people — specifically, your team.

This article will focus on your most valuable resource: your people. 

Why Employee Retention Matters in Your Sustainability Strategy

Are you as focused and deliberate about the growth and development of your own team as you are with new business acquisitions and increasing sales? Does improving employee retention matter as much as your bottom line?

Concentrating on sales and revenue growth is sexy and often what garners the most attention (so far). However, it’s shortsighted without first considering the consequences of that growth. What is the true cost of new business? What would a 20% increase in sales mean to your team’s capacity? Thirty percent?

You can only sell or expand as much as your team can manage or service. You can push the envelope and either over-extend your team for some time or scale back the level of service they can provide to your customers. Both scenarios are Band-Aid solutions and carry the risk of infection by causing decay in your customers’ experiences or burning out your team.

The good news is, we can remedy these problems with a solid–and sustainable–Employee Engagement System. Let’s talk about what that looks like.

Why You Need an Employee Engagement System 

An end-to-end Employee Engagement System is crucial to your company’s sustainability and ability to have a positive impact. In short, you have a hole in your bucket if you don’t have this process in place. 

By not taking the time and allocating proper resources to building an Employee Engagement System, you are inadvertently (inevitably) reducing the available resources you need to remain relevant. This can manifest in a couple of ways.

Burnout Leads to Lower Employee Retention

According to a Harvard Business Review article, “Companies without systems to support the well-being of their employees have higher turnover, lower productivity, and higher healthcare costs.” This means it will be more and more costly to continue driving into the future because you’ll be bleeding resources.

Your organization will likely become a sea of hairline fractures that surface seemingly out of the blue but are swelling under the surface. Excess time will be allocated to putting out fires and plugging holes, rather than making strides forward collectively as a high-functioning, cohesive team.

Think of what it means to proactively maintain your equipment, and apply that to the humans on your team. Do you keep things working correctly, or overuse them and wait for them to break? The same is true for people; they need to be maintained!

Top Talent Will Bypass Companies with Poor Culture

Burnout, lack of enthusiasm, and diminished focus; this is likely not the picture you want to present about what it’s like to work for your company. However, burnout is directly related to your workplace culture. This means we all must take responsibility and couple that with tangible goals and processes to correct this oversight.

It’s widely understood that expanding the share of customers is more efficient than increasing the market share. Simply stated, selling more products to existing customers is easier than getting more customers. 

Companies often deploy various strategies and tactics focused on learning more about customers’ buying habits, needs, and priorities to achieve this. Chances are, this is something you are already implementing in your business. On top of that, you’re likely focused on earning and receiving customer reviews, knowing they are often leverage points for new business.

Perhaps you’re thinking about customer reviews, but not necessarily employee reviews. Negative employee feedback will impact not only employee retention but your team-building efforts, too! It can even deter new customers from choosing to do business with you. 

Culture plays a major role in talent acquisition. In fact, according to AnnualLeave.com, an astounding 90% of job seekers spend time researching their prospective employers’ company culture before taking a job. Of those individuals, 61% said they use websites like Glassdoor to read employee reviews, as well as search for pertinent articles and information online.

Furthermore, our teams can play active roles in generating referrals for new business and identifying (or even recruiting) top talent. So rather than treating our people like commodities or robots, why don’t we decide to embrace them fully and all the potential they can contribute to our companies, beyond the scope of their position?

“Unless efforts are refocused on retention, managers will be unable to drive performance and affect change.” – Harvard Business Review

An Engaged Team Boosts Organic Growth 

When your team is thriving, the natural result is a boost in organic growth. Not only does an engaged team ultimately help to boost profitability by over 20%; but it can also drive up to 10% more customer ratings. That’s because how you engage your team internally directly impacts how they interact with the outside world, especially your customers.

Sustainable, impact-driven employee retention can look like this: 

  • Maintaining your team’s relevant expertise in a rapidly-changing landscape 
  • Showing interest in their individuality and nurturing them for who they are, not just what they bring to the table at work 
  • Keeping them highly engaged, could lead to more effective customer service  
  • Working to help them feel connected to their teammates, as well as to the company’s mission and vision, which boosts team collaboration
  • Helping them identify their path forward through relevant opportunities and professional development 
  • Nurturing a healthy work environment where they can thrive

Build a Sustainable System for Better Employee Retention

You are setting yourself up for failure if you don’t have an Employee Engagement System. It might be a slow burn, but it’s inevitable. Taking care of your people is not a checkbox, and it’s not a one-and-done task. Just like we approach customer experience and retention, our teams deserve the same level of attention and commitment; perhaps even more.

Need help improving your company’s Employee Engagement System? You’re in luck — we’ve created a downloadable worksheet to get you started. Get it here.

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