by Jana Macon

Retaining top talent can be a challenge for any business. When a good employee leaves, not only are you losing that talented individual, but a constant shuffle of new faces, and the cost that comes with training and onboarding new employees can interrupt workflows and bring down overall company morale. One of the best ways to retain your employees is to show them you care on both a personal and professional level, and show it often. You would be surprised at how far a seemingly simple gesture can go toward increasing job satisfaction.

Look for ways throughout the year to show your appreciation for your employees and to invest in their professional development. The result will be a happy, motivated team. Following are seven suggestions for improving employee retention:

1. Say thank you—It really is that simple. Personally thank your staff for their hard work and the contributions they make to the business each day. Your appreciation could be expressed in a group or in a one-on-one setting, or as a note that is left on their desk. Change up your delivery method and express appreciation whenever it is warranted. Affirmation of an employee’s value can leave a lasting feeling of pride and satisfaction in their work.

2. Engage in conversation—This should not be limited to work topics. Take a genuine interest in your employee’s lives: what they like to do outside of work, what their plans are for the weekend, what their spouses’ names are. The key here is to remember the information, and to keep the conversation going on a regular basis. A personal level of engagement leaves your employee with a sense of value outside of their professional skills. Of course, it is necessary to be engaged in what is happening in your employees’ professional lives, as well. Be available to your staff when they have questions, concerns or ideas. Employees like to feel as though their thoughts matter.

3. If you feed them, they will stay—Everyone loves a free meal. Treat your employees to a catered lunch at the office once a quarter or have a monthly birthday celebration with cake and ice cream. Bringing people together over a meal accomplishes more than just showing appreciation; eating together can build better working relationships.

4. Give small gifts—You cannot imagine the impact a small, physical token of appreciation can have on employee morale. Surprise an outstanding employee with a gift card to their favorite coffee shop or bookstore. You might also consider giving the gift of work-life balance through ample paid time off and sick leave. Adopting innovative technology can allow the point-of-care documentation process to be much more efficient, leading to happier clinicians and better patient care.

5. Offer learning opportunities—If your organization does not have a formal coaching process consider adopting one. Managers who take the time to discuss employees’ performance, goals and career paths are generally more respected and approachable. Also consider doing a quarterly or annual “lunch and learn” session where you bring in an industry expert to discuss a hot topic with your staff. Ensure you are meeting education requirements from the federal government and your accreditation agency for key technical staff members.

6. Host a town hall session—Employees appreciate being “in the know” when it comes to what is going on with the business and the industry. Plan an ongoing series of town halls where business leaders discuss how the business is performing, any staff updates, any new services the business is planning to offer or any other news that would be important for staff to hear. Leaving employees in the dark about business performance and goals is not effective when it comes to building a successful and collaborative team.

7. Let them solve a problem—If the business is considering a new logo, a website redesign or a theme for the company holiday party—involve your employees. Pose the problem out to staff and ask them for suggestions. You can even make it into a contest with the best submission winning a prize. Directly involving staff in shaping the future of the business is highly motivating and gets people engaged and passionate about the future.