If you are struggling to retain talent then it may be time to give the fine print around your non-compete a good once over, according to investment specialist Donald “Dek” Bake. Avoid a stagnant non-compete with these fresh alternatives.

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Brokers, team leaders and inside sales managers are struggling to find and retain talent to keep their teams running a full capacity in 2022. Being open to new strategies and dialing up new opportunities to offer potential team members and retain the ones you have should definitely be on your summer bucket list. One thing to consider? Alternatives to previously prescribed compensation agreements. 

The fine print

Non-compete agreements have long been used as a method of employee retention. They were introduced to prevent employees from becoming or engaging with competitors in particular industries and sharing proprietary information. As the workplace has grown more mobile and workers have been changing jobs with greater frequency, the use of non-competes has increased dramatically.

Millions of workers are blocked from taking better opportunities or starting their own businesses because of overreaching non-compete agreements. A non-compete is a contract from an employer preventing employees from going to a competitor or starting a business that competes for a specified period. Non-compete agreements are everywhere, at every level, and in every industry, although they are used more widely in some sectors than others. 

Non-compete agreements can also apply to independent contractors. Contractors, who frequently have less job stability than employees, may be more reluctant to sign an agreement that restricts their ability to do business in a specific industry or product area or with certain customers. They may be looking to the next opportunity and don’t want to restrict themselves. 

New restrictions surrounding non-competes

Restrictions around non-compete agreements are rapidly changing. Last July, President Biden signed an Executive Order encouraging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to explore restrictions on non-compete agreements nationwide. 

On a state level, each state has different conditions and limitations, with some states taking action to limit or ban non-competes. As it stands now, North Dakota, California and Oklahoma are the few states where non-competes are almost always unenforceable. Other states, such as Massachusetts, Maine, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Washington, restrict non-competes as to certain types of workers, such as low-wage employees.

Why not focus on other methods to retain talent?

The competition for jobs is fierce, and companies are desperate to keep their best talent. So, what if employers were forced to work harder to retain employees rather than have them sign non-competes? The job market is hot, especially for candidates with in-demand skills. When you sense your team is at risk of losing top talent, move quickly to enhance your employee retention strategies. 

Here are some areas where thoughtful action can help boost employees’ job satisfaction and allow you to hold onto valued workers:

You’re hired. Your onboarding process should set up every new hire for success. Take this opportunity to teach new hires about company culture and how they can make a difference and thrive in it. Use this training to set the tone for the employee’s entire tenure at your company.

Mentoring is good. Strategically match a new employee with a mentor who can offer guidance and teach your employees. Give them someone to learn from and go to when they have questions. Your existing staff can also significantly benefit from mentor-mentee relationships. 

Give them a voice. Does your organization provide a platform for employees to speak their minds freely? Does your senior staff solicit ideas and provide employees the environment to provide their feedback? Employees can offer new perspectives and ideas for improvement, which in turn can contribute to employee retention.

Let them be known. Managers need to understand what their employees need to give them ideal learning opportunities. Scheduling regular meetings with employees and using this time to check in on their current projects shows you are interested. Ask if there are any projects or additional responsibilities they would like to participate in over the next six to nine months. Meeting with employees and letting them be heard results in better working relationships and more committed employees.

Employee compensation: Companies need to offer their employees competitive compensation. All genders need to be compensated equally. Monetary rewards, bonuses, and raises tied to achieving goals are significant and will help you retain staff probably more than any other action. If your business can’t provide a pay increase, think about bonuses, childcare and other benefits to help raise employees’ job satisfaction. 

Wellness offerings: Keeping employees mentally and physically healthy is wise for all businesses. In the past few years, leading employers have expanded their wellness offerings to help employees with flexible work schedules, weight-loss initiatives, vaccine programs, stress management programs, gym reimbursement and therapeutic sessions. All businesses should consider providing these services to employees.

Feedback, training and development: Some employers abandon the annual performance review and replace it with more frequent individual employee meetings. In these meetings, discussions occur about employees’ professional goals and goals for their future with the company. This is an opportunity to lay out a realistic plan for reaching those goals

Feedback is one of the most valuable aspects of this process, and it starts with setting clear expectations. Work with employees to set goals. Provide feedback regularly on what is working and the opportunities for improvement. 

Tracking personal metrics is also helpful for employees to measure performance and growth on their own time and identify areas for professional development and learning new skills. Provide opportunities for employees to upskill. This is especially important given how fast technology continues to change how we work. 

It is critical to establish an environment where people believe they are valued and can flourish. It allows managers to help their employees as new challenges arise outside of formal training and everyday work experiences.

Work-life balance: A healthy work-life balance is essential to job satisfaction. Encourage employees to take vacation time and take steps to avoid an unmanageable workload. When assigning tasks, ask questions about bandwidth and what level of support is needed, and set realistic expectations for completion.

 Flexible work arrangements: Remote or hybrid work models appeal to many workers. Employees during the pandemic learned they can be effective doing remote work. Many workers say they will look for a new job if required to return to in-person full time. So think about what your company can offer employees if full-time remote work isn’t an option. 

That may look like a three-day workweek or a partial telecommuting setup. A resistant employer may compromise on this as The Great Resignation continues and retention becomes harder. The flexibility can help relieve stress for your employee and boost employee retention. 

What it comes down to is the ability of your employees to thrive. Without the threat of a non-compete, companies can create ways for their employees to be entrepreneurial without leaving. Companies can empower these stars by providing opportunities to ideate and execute their independent projects and the resources to execute these ideas. Invest in your workers’ professional development. Exemplary employees want to learn and grow. Unless employees try new opportunities, take on challenging tasks, and attend seminars, they will stagnate. 

Specializing in residential investment properties, Donald “Dek” Bake brings a wealth of real estate expertise and unmatched negotiation skills to the Fair Trade Real Estate team. Follow him on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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