How to retain your best employees


For a country like Uganda where unemployment is one of the highest in the world, this seems like a strange subject to present.  I find that most Ugandan employers treat their employees like beggars.  Something is wrong with this.

Ugandans may be facing a very high unemployment rate but the ones you get do work for their money. Unless you messed up in the job screening.  Please treat people nice and they will work hard.

You will understand after you realise how much it costs your company or your firm not to keep your best employees.

The average paid training period for a casual worker is 1 – 4 weeks depending on the job.  They are usually not producing and contributing to your bottom line during the training phase.

You mean you will spend that much time and money and then not retain them?  You are throwing money out of the window.  Do not be fooled by “I could just hire another one to replace you anytime”.

The average time it takes to train a professional (e.g. accountant, engineer, IT professional) ranges from 3mths to 1yr.  Most of them do produce during this time though.  Now, they are contributing and in training and you likely have some people who will retire so this group has to take over their jobs.  Do you want to frustrate them and have them leave your company so that you can the same thing over again?

Business is very competitive and very aggressive in this age you should look at your bottom line each month and then figure in what it costs you to have a high employee turnover.  Try to avoid a high employee turnover.

To retain your best ones, Leah has opinions (as usual).

  1. At the time of hiring them, you will have decided that they are great for your company.  So sit down with them shortly and discuss their goals so that you can work TOGETHER to achieve those goals.  If you do not, they will soon find someone else who can help them with their future.
  2. Have regular meetings with your employees to gage what they are doing.  Once a month is enough.  Weekly is pushing it unless they have just joined your company.  On this one, you might want to have an open door policy where your employees feel free to come to you with questions anytime you are not stuck in a meeting.
  3. Do not just give them tasks and think that all they are doing is that.  There is a real story of one USA young man who was always delivering his projects on time and in time.  This genius had contracted his job to another young kid in China.  He said he was mostly playing on the computer.  But the money this kid was being paid allowed him to pay another kid to do most of his work.
  4. Come to think about the above, you could have out sourced that job yourself and saved yourself a lot of money.
  5. Continuous learning and development is crucial.  Always allocate a budget for training for your employees. Encourage them to take evening courses or once in a while workshop or seminar.  They will feel appreciated and they will learn.  I worked for one company in the past that required all the IT people to take a minimum of 5 days of training each year (company paid).  Continous learning looks good on their CV and you might fire them or lay them off so this helps them as well besides keeping up their morale.
  6. Performance reviews are not for PUTTING down the employee.  They are for evaluating what is working or not working and sorting out where the employee can do better (always work with people’s strengths instead of beating them down for their weaknesses) and also visiting the further training they might need.  You as the boss cannot dictate to the employee what they must know or learn.  Let them tell you or you suggest.
  7. Spend sometime learning about their family.  Their spouse’s name, the names of their kids (and ages and which schools) and their parents or siblings.  These things work better than money.
  8. Pay your employees a living wage and even more.  Give them a raise without them asking for it.
  9. Never criticize your employee in front of other employees.  I worked for one company where this woman used to do this to me.  So one time, I just jumped into my car and drove home leaving her stuck with the work and it was a big banquet too.
  10. Fire the none performers.  This is likely one of the best ways to reward your best employees.  The cuties who do not perform will lead to the non brown noses leaving. In business, friendship is great but the bottom line is numbers.  Numbers do not lie.  Humans do.

Martha Leah Nangalama

Moncton, Canada

The writer has an IT and business background.

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