20 Effective Employee Retention Strategies

When it comes to keeping employees, there are many effective strategies that can make or break your star hire. People are people after all, and sometimes retaining employees is more complicated than bonuses, benefits, and pay. Working conditions, inter-office relationships, location and more can all contribute to why your employees are staying or leaving.

This list of effective employee retention strategies can give you the valuable insight you need on why your employees are (or aren’t) sticking around.

20 Effective Employee Retention Strategies

Hiring the Right People From the Start

Have you ever sat down with a new hire and had just a bad feeling in your gut from the get-go? They were nice, pleasant, and put-together. Their resume was sparkling. Despite all these things, something just didn’t mesh, but you hired them anyway. A few months down the road the employee left with their two-weeks notice, but you never learned the why about it. 

When it comes to good hires, you want to make sure you are getting the best people from the start. Vet your potential hires with a multiple interview process, have them talk to managers and/or department heads, and really get a good feel for them before you start going through a rigorous and expensive onboarding process that might end with them leaving.

Onboarding and Orientation

New hires need to be set up for success, and this begins long before you hire them. You need an onboarding process that is implemented into your interview process, one that teaches all new employees about the company, the job, the role, company culture, and thriving under all aspects of business contribution. The first steps are critical, and training begins from day one. Consider adding some team building activities to your orientation process that can help your employees feel valued and comfortable.

Whether you are hiring someone virtually or in person, you can understand their needs and set tones of expectation long before their first day.

Offer a Competitive Base Salary and Benefits

Let’s be blunt: yes, it’s about the money. While this varies from generation to generation, over half of surveyed employees today say that benefits, insurance, and healthcare keep them on the job, but those benefits are entirely dependent on monetary value. Money matters a lot, and our lives are getting more and more expensive.

It may seem like the easiest thing to do is simply increase pay and benefits, but that isn’t always the case. While you do want to make sure you stay competitive, you also don’t want to overextend your business and flounder because of it. If you notice that you are losing more people than you are retaining, you may want to consider your benefits packages and base pay. Check and make sure your business is meeting industry standards, and consider cutting costs in other parts of the business before looking into employee pay.

Provide Flexible Work Arrangements

How do we feel about reduced workdays? Flexible working arrangements are a boon that many people are currently looking for in new jobs, and this is gaining popularity enough that it is becoming an expected standard.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, “hybrid workplaces” have become a new trend, this combination of both in-office and remote work. Many people are leaving their jobs in order to work remotely, and when companies make excuses for why this isn’t possible, they increase the possibility of losing out on their star employees. While employers are not yet confident in the entirely remote workforce, you need to consider the place of the employee. Remote work cuts down on commutes, restructures the work-life balance, cuts down on distraction and frustration, and cuts into infrastructure and overhead costs.

Remote work can also mean you finding talent that extends beyond a local hire pool!

Invest in Your Employees’ Growth

Growth is important for both individuals and businesses, and sometimes your employees will look for growth in a low-paying job if it means reaching a place that they are happy with. While this might sound like a way to offer lower pay or cut corners, it’s actually the opposite. The only way an employee will respect a lower salary is if they see immediate and clear opportunities.

In-house training programs, learning opportunities, growth seminars, and managerial shadowing are all ways that an employee can feel as though they are valued and moving up in the workplace. When you promote the career growth of your employees, your staff will thank you by investing themselves more in the company and workplace. This is why team building is important; it helps your employees grow into people that belong to the community of your company.

Make Employees Feel Valued

We’re all human, and we all want praise. Search for ways to offer incremental promotions. Don’t belittle contributions or attempt to undermine your staff. Acknowledge intelligence by showcasing employees that go above and beyond. Increasing employee retention means making those employees feel valued, and this might be easier than you think. If you’re transparent with your staff, if you openly recognize hard work, if you appreciate your staff, if you ask for their opinions (and actively listen) you will notice an almost immediate response. You need everyone to feel valued, from HR to the cleaning crew, and a kind word and honest feedback will greatly improve temperament and morale.

Create an Inclusive Workplace Culture

Inclusive and diverse workplace cultures are more important now than they’ve ever been. The pandemic has brought out a lot of ugliness, from division to resentment to racism. Diversity goes beyond simple hires or empty gestures; you need to actually build an inclusive workplace and then harbor and take care of it when it exists.

An overwhelming portion of working adults agrees that it’s paramount that their employer structure an inclusive workplace culture. Any business that glorifies, identifies, and values people of all walks of life will not only retain more employees but attract new talents that may have been nervous to join in. Gender-inclusive language, religious tolerance, and strongly anti-racist rhetoric in the workplace will make people feel valued and give belonging to those minority groups that are most vulnerable in our communities.

Introduce Team Building Activities

Employee team building activities are more than just a break from the stressors of work, they function as morale boosters, relationships builders, and structured training opportunities. Communication is so important in the workplace, and oftentimes we can forget that communication is built on more than email and meetings alone. Businesses that actually promote healthy staff relationships and allow their employees to really get to know one another will see strong growth and employee retention. 

Virtual team building activities can promote a sense of belonging amidst this time of uncertainty.

Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Your employees deserve a healthy balance of both life and work, and this necessity goes beyond just clocking out at the end of the day. In our virtual and remote work lives, that work-life balance has had its boundaries skewed and blurred. A healthy staff is the biggest contributor to the success of your business, and if you think about employee health in the long term, you will retain more staff.

There are a few ways you can promote a healthy work-life balance:

  • Don’t call, text, or email staff outside of work hours. If it’s not an emergency, it’s not important.
  • Make a real push for hybrid work and remote work options.
  • Grant your employees paid vacations and time off.
  • Respect the time of your staff.

Initiate a Mentor/Buddy Culture

Nobody wants to feel like they are being talked down to or micromanaged. Humans naturally resist management as it is, and they want to feel like they are adults that can do their work competently. 

Instead of constantly managing your new employees yourself, assign a mentor buddy as part of your new hire process. This onboarding tool is a great way to not only show the newcomer the ropes but will give valuable insight to the mentors in ways they can improve office relationships and policies. This is a good way to train, innovate, and learn.

If possible (depending on your area) consider engaging in some outdoor team building with your new hires and their buddies, creating strong teams that will last for their entire tenure at your company!

Generate  Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Everyone wants to be recognized, and proper recognition is built upon social and private acknowledgment from their peers. When you appreciate your employees, this helps them feel validated and respected in their work. Your employees want to feel like they belong, and with that belonging comes natural loyalty and hard work. 

Meaningful emails (or even hand-written notes), recognition programs, praise, bonuses, benefits, and little prizes will help your employees feel that value, which in turn motivates them to excel in the workplace.

Provide Ongoing Education and Clear Paths to Advancement

We all know the strength of promoting within: it provides incentive, responsibility, compensation, and makes your staff feel like they are valuable and that they’re growing alongside the company. When you provide opportunities to develop and grow within your professional sphere, you are showing individuals that there is reason to stay. Development and growth should be adapted to the needs and terms of your staff. 

Incoming staff, especially Millennials and Gen Z, want true professional development. This is a generation that requires personal development possibilities and opportunities that will enhance them overall. Learning should be the core focus of your business, and any strong organization knows that adapting to new cultures and needs will serve to strengthen your staff.

Strong training opportunities, commitment to growth, and incentives will all give your employees reason to stay.

Leaders, Not Bosses 

Do you know the difference between being a leader and being a boss? Do your employees know the difference? Often, people want what comes with being a “boss” but are unable to address necessary leadership qualities.

Leadership goes far beyond bossing people around. Leaders know how to lead:

  • Give your employees clear direction that takes them into the future.
  • Show that you are able to handle challenges and that you can weather the storm.
  • Make it clear that you want things to be of the utmost quality.
  • Be clear that you believe in the importance of your staff.
  • Stand for what you believe in, and inspire those around you.

Encourage Transparency in Leadership

It’s not enough to be a good leader—you need to be a leader that is open, available, and transparent to your staff.

Transparency is one of the most important facets of retaining your employees. Making sudden changes or increasing expectations without proper lead-up can create unfortunate disconnects between staff and business. If your leaders or managers aren’t being clear and upfront with your employees, you will notice the compounding issues immediately.

Be honest about bonuses, income, policies, changes, and more. The more you make available to your organization, the more they will respond in positive ways. Employees who believe they are important facets of the company and can see that reflected in the day-to-day are bound to stick around. You’re a team, and there’s no better way to show you’re a team than by being transparent with your staff.

Reward Efforts, and Not Just Results

You’ve heard the phrase “Don’t treat the symptom, treat the disease?” Well, think of results in your workplace as mere symptoms. Regardless of measurable results, the day-to-day efforts of your employees need to be seen and rewarded.

Think about it. How many times have you been in a position where you worked so hard on something, but it didn’t pan out the way we wanted? Maybe someone else did less work and achieved the same result. Maybe things just didn’t pan out. Well, your company needs to be able to empathize with efforts and change their perception of the employee to what they bring to the group in total, not just individual results.

Pay attention to how hard your employees are working and remember that what they do adds up to the whole of your company’s success.

Introduce a Feedback Culture

Offering small bits of feedback is great, but you want to make sure that feedback and praise aren’t just a temporary solution. Consistent, regular feedback helps connect your staff and enhance the work of your employees. Feedback culture is an important part of workplace communication, and this feedback can stave off anxieties, streets, loneliness, and apathy. Positive, structured feedback that empathizes with the needs of your employees can keep your staff connected and make them feel like someone cares.

Conduct Exit Interviews

While we all want to retain as many employees as possible, sometimes people leave and there’s nothing we can do about it. Conducting exit interviews is an important, respectful step in running your business.

Though some might scoff at caring about an exiting employee, there are many things you can learn from an honest and candid exit interview. You may learn about toxic employees, poor management styles, conflicts, and other frustrations that your employee couldn’t be honest about while attempting to retain their position. 

Introduce an Employee Stock Ownership Program

An ESOP is a great way to give your employees a bonus or incentive that goes beyond direct monetary value. When your employees are encouraged to become stakeholders, you tell them that you want them invested in the performance of the company. 

This is an excellent way to buy into the company, and it can motivate employees toward ownership. This tells your employees that you want them to stick around and help the company grow.

Offer Sabbatical Programs

You want to make sure you are preventing burnout and retaining your best workers. Sabbatical programs showcase this appreciation by telling your employees “Hey, I see your hard work and want to reward you for it.” Every company has different sabbatical policies.

Your employees will always benefit from a little R&R. They can work on their passions, engage in hobbies, spend time with their families, and more. You can craft mental health leave programs, give employees hierarchal weeks off, and motivate them to continue to work hard within the company.

Avoid Sudden Changes In The Workplace

We all struggle with change, and while it might at times be necessary, none of us ever adapt to it well. Change is stressful, and even if you are bringing in good initiatives and systems that benefit everyone, people will need time to adapt to them. Forcing changes too quickly can have a negative impact that threatens employee retention.

It’s important to find the best time to implement change and give people enough time to prepare for it. If you bring in broad, sweeping changes, prepare for people to react to them strongly. Even if the changes are good, give plenty of time beforehand, provide moments for feedback, and give a timeline for when the changes roll in.

Improve Your Business to Keep Employees

In the end, we are looking to keep as many good employees as we can. Losing rockstars can be a hit to both morale and the bottom line, and hopefully, there is enough in this list to keep your employees appreciated and respected. By encouraging your leaders to reward efforts and crafting new systems of communication and feedback, the culture of your business should turn toward the better. You want to make a business that people actually want to work in, and if you can improve the status quo you will retain more employees than you ever thought possible.

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