As an organization, you’re only as good as your team. But hiring the best people is only one part of the equation—if you want your company to succeed, you also need to retain those people.
But how, exactly, do you do that? How do you keep your employees engaged with their work and committed to their roles, AND from looking for a better gig elsewhere?
Let’s take a look at 10 easy strategies you can use to improve employee retention—and improve your organization in the process.
Why Is Employee Retention Important?
First things first—before we jump into how to improve employee retention, let’s quickly touch on why employee retention is so important to begin with.
Keeping employee retention high (and turnover low) is a must for a few reasons, including:
- Employee turnover is expensive. In their 2020 Retention Report, the Work Institute estimates that replacing an employee costs an organization 30 percent of the employee’s annual salary. So, every time an employee leaves your organization, that’s 30 percent of their annual salary in turnover costs—and the higher your turnover, the higher your costs.
- Turnover causes productivity to take a nosedive. According to a Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, it takes new employees an average of eight months to hit full productivity. So, the higher your employee turnover, the more new employees you’ll need to hire—and the less productive your team will be while those new employees get acclimated to their roles.
- Companies with high employee retention are more profitable. Keeping retention high can also have a huge impact on a company’s profitability. A study from Northern Illinois University found that companies with low turnover rates have 4x higher profits than companies with high employee turnover.
The bottom line? Your employees are the heart of your business and in order for that heart to keep beating and moving your business forward—you need to do everything you can to keep your employees around for the long term.
Strategies To Keep Turnover Low And Retention High
Now that you know why employee retention is so important, let’s jump right into the strategies you need to keep top talent with your organization for the long term.
Hire The Right People…
Employee retention starts with who you hire. If you’re not hiring the right people, it’s going to be hard—or, in many cases, impossible—to keep them around.
Before you hire for a new role, take the time to really define both the role and the type of person who will be successful in said role. What tasks and responsibilities will this person be tackling on a day-to-day basis—and what skills, qualifications, or experience do they need in order to manage those tasks and responsibilities successfully? Which teams will this person be working with and which personality types tend to thrive on those teams?
In addition to making sure you’re hiring the right person for the role, you should also make sure that you’re hiring the right person for your company. What are your corporate values? What are the qualities a person needs to have to be successful within your organization?
The point is, when you hire people who are the right fit for the role, the team, and the organization, they’re far more likely to succeed—and far more likely to stay as a result.
...And Train Them Well
Hiring the right people is important. But if you want them to stick around for the long term, you also need to set them up for success.
Giving employees the training they need to succeed in their role is a crucial part of employee retention. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Trends report, companies that were rated highly on employee training experienced 53 percent lower attrition.
So, if you want to improve employee retention? Train your team—and train them well.
Obviously, you want to onboard your new employees and give them the training they need to succeed in their role and at your company. For example, training on your internal systems and processes and how to use your organization’s different software tools. But if you really want to improve retention, you should also offer additional training opportunities for employees throughout their journey with your organization. For example, rolling out a learning and development program aimed at helping your employees grow their skills and advance their career.
The better you train your employees, the more they’ll see that you’re invested in their success—and the more likely it is they’ll want to continue that success at your company.
Offer Competitive Compensation And Benefits
You can do everything else right but if you’re not offering competitive compensation and benefits, improving your employee retention is going to be a losing battle. If employees feel like they aren’t being compensated fairly—both from a salary and a benefits perspective—chances are, they’re going to seek out better compensation elsewhere.
Luckily, offering your team competitive compensation and benefits can work wonders for employee retention; according to the LinkedIn Global Talent trends report, companies that were rated highly on compensation and benefits saw 56 percent lower attrition.
Do your research. What kind of salary and benefits are top candidates being offered in your market? How do your compensation and benefits packages line up?
Once you know what the market is bearing, you can take steps to make your compensation packages more competitive; for example, you might realize that you’re underpaying your mid-level managers—and a salary boost is necessary to keep them happy in their roles (and committed to staying with your company). Or maybe you realize that your healthcare benefits are limited compared to your competitors—in which case, you might consider expanding your offerings to give your employees more choice in their healthcare plans.
The takeaway? You can make your company a great place to work—but if you’re not offering your employees a competitive compensation package, chances are, they’re going to eventually leave for a company that will.
Letting your employees know they crushed it on a presentation or their report exceeded your expectations might seem like no big deal. But when it comes to employee retention, acknowledging your employees and celebrating wins is actually a very big deal.
Research from OC Tanner Learning Group found that a whopping 79 percent of employees that quit their job cite “lack of appreciation” as their reason for leaving. And according to research from HR platform TINYPulse, 24 percent of employees who felt they hadn’t received recognition from their direct supervisor over the past two weeks had recently interviewed for another position—compared to 13 percent of employees who had received recognition.
There are plenty of ways to celebrate your employees’ wins. Try holding a weekly meeting with your team and call out something each team member has done well. You can start a “digital kudos board” where your team members can call out other employees for a job well done. You can kick off your one-on-one meetings by highlighting and celebrating one of the employee’s recent wins—and thanking them for a job well done.
The point is, when it comes to employee retention, a little recognition goes a long way—so make sure you’re taking the time to highlight your employees’ accomplishments, acknowledge their hard work, and celebrate their wins.
Support Your Employees’ Professional Growth
Your employees might feel satisfied in their job right now. But if nothing changes, the chances of them feeling that same level of satisfaction in the future—whether that’s a year from now, two years from now, or five years from now—is slim to none.
No one wants to feel stagnant in their careers; people want to feel like they’re growing professionally. And, as a leader, it’s on you to help facilitate that growth.
According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, a whopping 93 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. So, if you want to retain top talent, one of the best things you can do is invest in their professional growth.
Investing in your employees’ professional growth can take a number of different forms; you might offer to mentor one of your team members who hopes to grow in a leadership role, give a more junior employee the opportunity to work with a variety of teams to get a better sense of the direction they want to take their career, or send your team to a conference where they can learn more about your industry.
As a leader, if you want to keep your best employees around, you need to know how they want to grow in their career, support that growth any way you can, and give them the opportunity to experience that growth within your organization (for example, by promoting from within—and giving your existing employees a chance to take a step up in their career).
Set Clear Expectations
No one wants to feel unsure about their role on the team, what they’re responsible for, or what they’re supposed to be doing on a daily basis. So, if you want to keep employee retention high, you need to set clear expectations with your team.
According to the 2018 Employee Retention Report from TINYPulse, employees are 23 percent more likely to stay if their manager clearly explains their roles and responsibilities—so, make sure that you’re crystal clear with your team on their roles and who is responsible for what. This could mean writing more detailed job descriptions, having weekly team meetings to assign tasks and responsibilities, or regularly checking with each team member to see if they have any questions or concerns about their role or responsibilities—and then taking the time to address those questions and concerns so you’re both on the same page.
The clearer you are about your team’s jobs, responsibilities, and expectations, the more comfortable your employees will feel in their roles—and the better your retention will be as a result.
Make Work-Life Balance A Non-Negotiable
In today’s 24/7 work culture, employee burnout is a huge problem. And if your employees are completely burned out and overwhelmed, they’re not going to stick around long; according to the Employee Burnout Crisis report from Kronos, 95 percent of HR leaders claim that employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention.
So, if you want to improve employee retention, you need to prevent employee burnout—and that means making work-life balance a non-negotiable.
Encourage your employees to step away from their screens and take breaks throughout the day—and take days off when they need it. Respect your employees’ personal time and don’t send emails or messages during off-hours unless it’s an absolute emergency. Make sure each of your employees have a manageable workload—and if they seem overwhelmed, shift things around to take tasks off their plates and give them a bit of breathing room.
When you make work-life balance a part of your company culture, your employees are less likely to burn out—and more likely to stay.
Ask Your Employees For Feedback
It doesn’t matter what you do to support your employees. There are always things you can do better—and if you want to improve employee retention, you need to know what those things are.
And the best way to find out what your employees need? Ask them.
According to research from TINYPulse, employees that don’t feel comfortable giving upward feedback are 16 percent less likely to stay at their companies—so, if you want to improve employee retention, your employees need to feel comfortable giving you direct feedback on what’s working, what’s not working, and what you need to improve.
This process of reflection and improvement starts with building trust. When you tell your employees you’re going to do something, follow through. When your employees ask you for something, do everything you can to deliver—and if you can’t, let them know why. If your employees tell you something in confidence, respect that confidence and keep the conversation between the two of you.
Once you have that baseline of trust, you can ask your employees for feedback on what they love about their job, what they don’t love, and what you as a leader can do to keep them satisfied and engaged with their role. With a consistent open dialogue, they’ll be much more likely to be open and truthful in their feedback. With that feedback, you can make any necessary changes, adjustments, or improvements to keep your team satisfied—and improve your employee retention as a result.
Creating an environment where your employees feel they can be open and honest with you is huge. But they also need to feel that you are being open and honest with them.
According to research from TINYpulse, strong management transparency leads to 30 percent better employee retention—so, if you want to improve employee retention within your company, as a leader, you need to embrace transparency.
If you make a mistake, own up to it. If an employee has a question that you don’t have the answer to, let them know you don’t have the answer right now—but you’ll find out as soon as possible. If there’s an issue within your organization that’s impacting your employees, give them as much information as you can about what’s going on—and, more importantly, what you’re doing to support them.
The more transparent you are, the more your employees will trust and respect you—and that trust and respect can help to improve employee retention.
Focus On Employee Engagement
Employee engagement and employee retention go hand-in-hand; according to the 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace Report, engaged employees had a 59 percent lower turnover rate than their less engaged counterparts.
So, if your goal is to improve employee retention, focusing on employee engagement is a great way to get there.
Luckily, the strategies you would use to improve employee retention—like investing in your employees’ professional growth, offering training opportunities, asking for feedback, encouraging better work/life balance, and celebrating wins—will also drive engagement (we told you they go hand in hand!). So, with the strategies on this list, you’re well on your way to not only improving employee retention, but improving employee engagement in the process.
Here’s an added bonus: The benefits of a more engaged workforce go way beyond retention. According to the Gallup report, engaged employees are 17 percent more productive, have 10 percent higher customer satisfaction metrics, and have a 41 percent lower rate of absenteeism than disengaged employees—and organizations with engaged employees outperform competitors with less engaged teams by a whopping 202 percent.
Use These Strategies To Retain Top Talent
Your organization’s success relies on your ability to not only hire top talent, but to keep that talent around. And with these strategies, you have everything you need to improve employee retention—and improve your company in the process.
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