Employee retention refers to an organization’s ability to keep its employees and prevent them from leaving the company voluntarily or involuntarily. A strong employee retention strategy can significantly benefit your company’s growth by helping promote cost savings, increasing productivity, establishing your brand’s reputation, and, ultimately, retaining top talent. The simplest approach is to compensate your employees with fair wages and benefits, focus on work-life balance, and provide opportunities for development and upward mobility.
This article dives into 14 employee retention strategies that will encourage employees to stay and achieve their goals within your company.
1. Ensure Pay Is Competitive
Offering competitive salaries is not only an excellent way to attract and hire employees but an important way to retain them too. Providing employees with competitive salaries and offering raises and bonuses consistent with industry standards reduces the risk of your top talent finding better offers elsewhere. Moreover, giving regular performance-based pay raises and/or bonuses demonstrates a company’s commitment to the employee and can build goodwill—even if the company can’t always keep pace with competing offers.
Competitive pay is more than just dollars in a paycheck; it also includes the benefits offered to employees that contribute to their total compensation, such as healthcare coverage, life/disability insurance, paid time off (PTO), and retirement benefits. Making sure that your total compensation package is competitive will also increase your chances of retaining your employees. With 73% of workers considering leaving their jobs to seek freelance employment, offering a robust benefits package can help increase employee retention.
2. Incorporate Onboarding & Orientation
Many companies find that turnover is highest among new employees, so it’s important to give them the resources they need to succeed from the beginning. Research shows that formal onboarding and orientation increases employee productivity by 62%, and can result in a new employee being 2.6 times more likely to remain at their job.
Take steps to retain talent from the first day by providing employees clarity around their roles, day-to-day requirements, and what success looks like—all of which can be accomplished with a formal onboarding and orientation process.
By supporting an employee’s growth mindset from the beginning, you’ll be more likely to retain top talent in the long run. According to a Gallup poll, 29% of new hires feel fully supported and prepared for their new role following a detailed onboarding and orientation process. This can help them master their positions and future career growth.
3. Provide Clear Job Descriptions & Expectations
Unclear job descriptions can lead to confusion and frustration among employees, causing them to feel unsupported and undervalued. On the other hand, employees with a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities are more likely to be satisfied with their job.
According to a Gallup study, organizations that clearly define employee expectations can see a 10% increase in productivity and a 22% decrease in employee turnover. Defining and discussing these expectations helps employees focus their efforts on meeting those responsibilities.
4. Communicate Openly & Transparently
To build trust and make employees feel at ease, develop a company culture that encourages open communication and fosters a feeling of psychological safety in the workplace—whether that be in an office or on a video call. Communication should also go both ways, so solicit input from your team members to nurture engagement, build trust, and encourage employee retention.
Being transparent with your employees about company policies and decision-making can also make employees feel more loyal to—and invested in—your company. Communication should inspire employees’ confidence in themselves, their colleagues, and the company itself. Hold at least a monthly all-company meeting to discuss:
- Company outlook
- Employee achievements
- Policy updates and reminders
- Strategy objectives
- Organization goals
- Budget goals and achievements
5. Offer a Fair & Transparent Grievance Process
Creating a fair and transparent grievance procedure in the workplace is essential in maintaining a positive and healthy work environment. It also allows you to prevent minor issues from becoming a litigation case.
Here are some of the best practices in establishing a grievance process:
The grievance policy should be clear and concise, outlining the grievance procedure in the workplace. This policy should be easily accessible to all employees and clearly explain the steps involved in filing a complaint and how it will be resolved.
Employees should be able to air their grievances in different channels, such as through a hotline, email, or in person. Besides making the process easier, it also ensures that employees feel comfortable in doing so.
There should be a timeline for resolving the complaint to ensure its resolution in a timely manner. Furthermore, all the details should be communicated to all parties involved to ensure transparency.
The training should include how to handle complaints and how to maintain confidentiality. They should also be trained on how to identify potential conflicts of interest and how to avoid them.
When investigating a complaint, an HR representative or a third-party consultant should conduct the investigation to ensure that it is fair and unbiased.
Keep detailed records of all complaints and investigations, including the steps taken and the outcome. This will help you identify trends and take necessary steps to prevent similar issues in the future.
6. Prioritize Work-life Balance
In addition to promoting a corporate culture that encourages open communication, set and enforce policies that support a healthy work-life balance. Depending on your organization, this may mean offering work-from-home options (even post-pandemic) or otherwise establishing a flexible work schedule policy. In fact, a recent study revealed that 71% of employees working flexible schedules (such as four-day workweeks) reported to have lower levels of burnout.
Work-life balance can also involve maintaining manageable workloads (do regular check-ins to ensure it’s working for the employee), creating a positive work environment, and providing wellness programs. Allowing employees to prioritize a healthy work-life balance will make them more likely to stay with your company for the long haul.
7. Encourage Employee Task Prioritization
A recent study conducted by Wharton School on employee retention revealed that overloading employees with too many difficult tasks in a row leads to a higher likelihood of employees quitting. When employees feel overwhelmed, stressed, and unsupported, they are more likely to experience low job satisfaction, reduced engagement, and increased turnover rates.
To avoid this, managers should help employees prioritize their tasks by providing clear guidelines on which tasks are the most important and urgent. Encourage employees to focus on one task at a time and avoid multitasking.
Furthermore, break down complex tasks into smaller, more manageable parts. This can help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed and give employees a sense of accomplishment as they complete each step.
8. Conduct Regular Performance Reviews
One-on-one performance review meetings with managers can help employees understand the definition of success in their roles. These also provide a great opportunity for supervisors to learn more about what makes an employee tick and what they need to be their best selves. This not only helps you better manage your employees day to day but also lets you learn about—and nurture—their professional goals. Sometimes, all you have to do to retain top talent is ask the right questions and listen.
Additionally, conducting regular performance reviews can help tie an employee’s performance to your company successes. This gives managers a chance to weigh the expectations of employees against their performance and contributions. Clearly outlining goals and performance can lead to a more positive work environment.
Gallup reported that some companies had to make abrupt changes to their performance reviews or cancel them altogether as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is why it’s important to build a process that is adaptable and responsive to changes in your business. Additionally, it should be timely and ongoing (don’t just meet once a quarter, but have more frequent, informal performance check-ins with your employees).
For a look at some of the key qualities that your managers should have, check out our article on the top people management skills.
9. Foster a Positive & Inclusive Work Environment
An inclusive work environment attracts and retains top talent. According to the Diversity and Inclusion—Global Market Trajectory & Analytics report, inclusive and diverse companies have 2.5 times more revenue per employee, and employees are 35% more productive. According to McKinsey, a diverse workforce has higher engagement, resulting in lower turnover and increased profitability.
When employees feel valued, respected, and included, they are more likely to trust their colleagues and the leadership. This leads to greater collaboration, more effective teamwork, and better communication throughout the organization.
10. Offer Personal & Professional Growth Opportunities
Companies that want to retain their top talent should provide employees the tools they need to be successful in their current roles and as they develop. Learning how to use new software or hardware, developing skills that will be transferable to other areas of the company, and offering up-skill training are all ways companies can keep employees engaged at work. By investing in team members, companies increase employee loyalty and productivity.
Training and developing your team should be a top priority in employee engagement and retention. Training new employees on company policies, learning new skills, and creating opportunities for professional development are all ways to keep your team engaged and productive. With two-thirds of management actively involved in professional development, this will be an investment that pays off in the long run in terms of productivity and morale. It will also ensure that your workforce is staying in line with any changes or developments within your industry.
Start with offering job training and education opportunities that can be translated into role advancement for your employees. Depending on the employee, it may also be helpful to cover education expenses to grow in a relevant field or to encourage conference attendance through financial assistance and flexible work schedules.
You can keep track of your return on investment (ROI) for training and development with this simple formula:
((Value of increased performance – Cost of employee training)
÷ Cost of employee training)) x 100
11. Promote From Within
Whenever possible, consider the career paths and goals of your employees in the context of existing roles in the company. Promoting from within not only boosts morale but can be the key to keeping employees engaged, even as their goals and interests develop.
This is partly because employees are more likely to participate in corporate events, training sessions, and other activities when there is a greater likelihood of promotion. Internal promotions also foster a greater sense of loyalty—which leads to higher employee retention rates.
The current labor market is competitive and many employees are finding it difficult to stay employed with a single company for their entire career. In fact, 36% are actively seeking employment elsewhere—and the number one reason is the lack of career opportunities. In response, some companies have adopted a promotion policy to retain employees. This policy is most commonly found in the tech industry, where the boom of startups has created fierce competition for top-level talent.
12. Challenge Employees
According to Forbes, up to half of your workforce or more may be bored in their jobs, thus leading to boreout. Giving employees new and challenging tasks can help them learn new skills, use more of their talents, and feel more engaged in their work.
Depending on the role, employees may benefit from stretch assignments that require them to go beyond their current expertise or skill set. Provide a safe environment for them to experiment, fail, learn, and develop.
Careers should be designed with top talent in mind so they are given the opportunity to grow and learn within the company. Challenging positions tend to increase motivation and engagement among employees. However, don’t make the job so challenging that the employee wants to give up.
13. Give Employee Recognition
Creating a culture of recognition not only increases employee confidence in completing day-to-day tasks but helps employees feel more secure in their positions. In fact, employees are more than twice as likely to experience burnout when they feel unappreciated. Managers can nurture team members and encourage high retention by setting tangible goals, providing ongoing feedback, and celebrating accomplishments.
This type of positive reinforcement is even more effective when managers tie individual achievements to company-wide goals and initiatives. Beyond the virtual meeting call-out, employers can show their appreciation to employees in a number of ways, including:
- Pay raises
- Swag gifts
- Company logo products
- Additional paid time off for a job well done
14. Conduct Stay Interviews
A stay interview is a structured conversation between a manager and an employee aimed at understanding what motivates the employee to stay with the company and what factors may cause them to consider leaving. Stay interviews are typically conducted with top performers or employees who are critical to the company’s success.
The structure of a stay interview can vary depending on your organization’s needs and the manager’s style. Generally, it should have the following elements:
- Introduction: Explain the purpose of the stay interview and the importance of the employee’s feedback.
- Relationship building: Take some time to build rapport with the employee to create a safe space for open and honest communication.
- Questions: Ask open-ended questions to understand the employee’s perspective and motivations, as well as any concerns or challenges they may be facing. Some example questions are:
- What motivates you to work?
- What do you enjoy most about your job?
- What do you find challenging about your job?
- What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
- What would make you consider leaving the organization?
- What can we do to support you better in your role?
- Active listening: Listen actively and attentively to the employee’s responses, and ask follow-up questions to clarify their meaning.
- Action & Follow-up: Based on the employee’s feedback, discuss potential actions that the organization can take to address any issues or concerns and improve employee retention. Agree on the next steps, and schedule a follow-up meeting to check in on progress and address new concerns or issues that may arise.
Employee Retention Frequently Asked Questions
A high turnover rate can cost your company thousands of dollars, not to mention the stress of finding new employees and the time you have to spend training them. On the other hand, a high retention rate saves you money and ensures the stability and continuity of your organization. Additionally, high retention rates can boost employee morale.
There are many reasons why employees leave the company, but according to Statista1, the top three reasons are low salary, no career advancement, and feeling disrespected at work.
High employee turnover can be expensive and bad for morale—and it may also negatively impact the performance of other employees. Plus, depending on the job market, it can be difficult to continuously hire high-quality team members.
To retain the employees you hire, you need to plan accordingly, from onboarding to policies to pay. Employees who feel valued and heard are more likely to work with you long-term. Making it a point to build trust, show appreciation, and provide everything your employees need to be successful in their position will lead to stronger staff retention.