Today’s top employees won’t put down roots in poor soil; explore innovative employee retention ideas, and retain the people who drive your business.
Regardless of the industry, regardless of the product, a company is only as good as its employees. Unfortunately, a top-quality workforce is becoming more and more difficult to hold onto. The global COVID-19 pandemic disrupted more than just economies; for many, the uncertainty of employment and shifting workplace expectations created a domino effect of employee churn. And while some businesses sought to protect their futures by strategically reducing their full-time staff, others were surprised to see many of their once-dedicated employees voluntarily quit.
Facing the ongoing realities of this Great Resignation (as it came to be called), employers around the world were forced to reconsider their approach to employee retention. No longer would top talent remain where they were simply because it was easier to do so. A record 4.53 million workers left their jobs in March of 2022, and it’s reported that approximately 41% of currently-employed individuals plan to look for a new job within the next six months.
Why are so many employees leaving their jobs behind? Studies suggest that the Great Resignation is anything but – it’s actually a sweeping determination to find something better; 65% of employees cite wanting a salary increase as their primary reason for wanting to move on to something different, 39% want better advancement opportunities, and 34% are simply burnt out and looking for a change.
In other words, today’s employees aren’t content to put down roots if they don’t like the soil offered by their current employers. This may be discouraging for some businesses, but it also presents a unique opportunity to create and deploy effective retention strategies, attracting and keeping high-value talent to secure an edge over their competition. After all, if you can find a way to keep your workforce engaged and satisfied, then they won’t need to start looking for something better.
What Are Retention Strategies?
At its most basic, a retention strategy is any plan that an organization may design and put into practice to help reduce employee turnover and improve employee engagement.
Although some turnover is an inevitable part of business, too much employee turnover can easily eat into your company’s profits and ability to function. Recruiting, screening, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding new employees is an expensive endeavor, made even more costly because it eats up the time and energy of your administration staff. As such, the right employee retention strategy can lower your hiring costs while also freeing up management to pursue other essential projects.
But defining “retention strategy” is only the first step. For those businesses that want to reassess and reduce employee attrition, finding the right retention strategy means understanding the needs and expectations of their workforce and how to address the challenges, uncertainties, and burnout that can quickly eat away at your employees’ commitment.
11 Ideas to Improve Employee Retention
Employee retention strategies may come in many forms, from the superficial (such as casual Fridays) to the comprehensive (such as completely restructuring the business), but at their heart, they all have one thing in common: They’re designed to optimize the employee experience.
Here, we briefly explore 11 different ways to improve retention of employees by better understanding and enhancing their employee journeys.
1. Hire Those Who Are a Cultural Fit
When most interviewers sit down to evaluate a potential hire, they generally focus on finding those who have the right skills and experience to be able to do the job. But while this is certainly a vital consideration, it shouldn’t be the only consideration that determines who gets brought on board. Instead, further gauge your candidates based on how they will contribute to and align with your company culture.
To do this, you need to first understand what your culture is. Establish a set of values to define and clearly express what your company holds as important, and what kind of behavior your employees will be expected to uphold. Then, reference those values throughout the hiring process. Ensure that hiring materials correctly convey cultural expectations, and provide potential hires with an immersive look at the actual workings of the office. Personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator may also be an effective way to find those who will mesh well with your organization.
Remember: Ensuring that your new hires fit well with your company culture is important not only to your business; it’s also a major consideration for most prospective employees. Glassdoor reports that 77% of workers consider company culture when applying for a job, and 73% won’t apply to work with organizations whose cultures are not aligned with their own values. On the other hand, when new hires care about the same things your company cares about, they’re much more likely to want to stay.
2. Focus on Onboarding and Orientation
Unfortunately, after the intensity of the hiring process, many organizations tend to take a step back once they feel as though they’ve found the right person to fill the position. But the ‘throw them in and see if they can swim’ approach can be extremely jarring to the fledgling employee who already feels like a fish out of water in their new workplace. This is where onboarding and orientation come into play.
A smooth onboarding process that guides employees as they find their feet not only helps ensure that they hit the ground running in terms of productivity; it also establishes a sense of trust in the organization. Orientation programs are another essential aspect of onboarding, providing hires with insight into policies and expectations, and helping them understand exactly how they fit into the overall objectives and structure of the company.
With the right onboarding and orientation, your workforce will have a clear idea of what they should be doing, how best to do it, and what business goals they are supporting with their work. In essence, onboarding brings them into the team and helps them feel valued, capable, and included.
3. Prioritize Well-Being
Many employees will push themselves far past their physical and mental limits to excel at work. But while that might sound great at first (why not tell everyone to give 110%?), it’s actually a recipe for disaster. Exhausted employees don’t do anyone any good — not themselves, and not their employers. Burnout leads to decreased productivity, efficiency, and engagement, and the result is almost always increased employee turnover.
Keeping employees healthy and happy is good business, but paid sick leave and competitive health insurance are only the beginning; take employee wellness further by offering additional stress reduction programs, free health assessments and screenings, fitness options, non-work-specific education and training opportunities, and assistance and support programs. Additionally, give your employees time to recharge their mental batteries by presenting them with opportunities to step away from intense tasks and instead focus on personal projects.
Employee well-being is the antidote to burnout. Helping you people focus on their health – and making sure that they know you consider their wellness a top priority – will help keep them engaged and loyal to the organization for years to come.
4. Be Competitive with Compensation
Desperate people looking for work will accept low salaries and pitiful benefits packages just to land a job. But what happens once they’re finally taking home a regular paycheck? In most cases, these individuals will almost immediately start looking for something better, using their current employment as a financial buffer while they explore better options. This leads to poor performance and increased attrition, where new hires treat their employer as nothing more than a layover preceding a better opportunity.
You can prevent this from happening by making your business the better opportunity that your hires have been waiting for. Offer starting salaries that are consistent and competitive, and further flesh them out with clear chances for raises, bonuses, stock options, and other forms of compensation.
Likewise, be sure that the benefits you bring to the table meet (or better yet, beat) industry standards. In this post-pandemic world, the right healthcare options can be the determining factor in whether your top employees stay with your company.
5. Reward Effort rather than Just Results
It makes sense why so many organizations put such a heavy emphasis on results: They’re easy to track, and they directly influence success. But not every great idea or herculean effort pays off right away. And when an employee goes above and beyond expectations, that’s worth celebrating regardless of whether it moves the needle on your quarterly profits.
Placing increased emphasis on the journey and not just the destination shows your employees that you value their effort. It teaches them to go outside of their comfort zones and to try solutions even if there’s a chance that they won’t work. It encourages them to dedicate a portion of their time to improving aspects of the business that aren’t directly tied to KPIs, but that nonetheless help the organization grow in positive directions.
Work with your managers to identify those who put in more than their fair share of effort, and these stalwart individuals will continue to do so.
6. Build an Inclusive Culture
Valuable talent comes in all shapes, ages, sizes, religions, orientations, genders, and ethnicities. If your organization (either knowingly or otherwise) caters only to those who fit a particular, predetermined mold, then you’ll be missing out on potentially game-changing employees. But building an inclusive culture goes well beyond simply avoiding discrimination during the hiring process; it means creating a workplace in which everyone feels welcome and respected at all times.
This may be more difficult than it seems. Even those leaders who tend to think of themselves as progressive might have unconscious biases that are unintentionally influencing the culture of the company. Start by working with your workforce to identify and eliminate any prejudices that may be standing in the way of improving your organization. Next, train your management teams on inclusion, including how to avoid discriminatory language. Review your recruitment strategies to ensure that they promote diversity. And through it all, encourage employees to provide feedback.
If your workplace doesn’t feel like a welcoming, accepting place, then you may be driving away some of the best talent your organization has.
7. Invest in Growth Opportunities
Employees aren’t a resource to be used up and discarded; they’re an investment. The people you hire have the capacity to become more than they are, bringing increased value to the organization as they expand upon their skills and abilities. This allows them to deliver better returns on your investment of hiring and training them to perform their jobs. It also brings with it the additional benefits of improving the employee experience.
Becoming better is a fantastic feeling. People like to improve, and if you make their personal advancement your priority, it will demonstrate to them that you are as invested in their future as they are.
Clear development opportunities, training programs, and personal growth solutions show your people that you value not only who they are, but what they can become. It also gives your talent a way to remain engaged and further their careers without having to start looking for something new.
8. Consider Flexible Work Models
If your business remained open throughout 2020, there’s a good chance that you have at least some experience with remote work. The lockdown forced many traditionally in-person businesses to pivot to internet-based collaboration. As a result, many employees got an unexpected taste of what it would be like to not have to go into the office every morning. That meant no commute, no draconian office layouts or workspaces, no overly chatty coworkers interrupting vital work sprints, etc. But more than that, it meant they could do their jobs and plan their schedules in the way that best supported their success.
With lockdown behind us, why not retain these benefits? Establish a work-from-home (WFH) or hybrid model, and you’ll be giving your employees the additional freedom many of them crave while also reinforcing their personal productivity best practices. And if they get other offers from other employers, the one that forces them to come into the office will have a hard time competing with the one that allows them to work from the comfort of their own homes.
For many organizations the remote-work infrastructure is already in place; all it takes is a change in policy. Just also be aware that not every employee prefers to avoid the office.
9. Consistently Collect and Provide Feedback
They say that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you want to know how your employees feel or where you could be improving engagement, ask them. Providing multiple channels for employee feedback gives them the opportunity to be heard. It also further reinforces that you value their opinions, and that your people are important drivers of company culture.
Bear in mind that some employees are hesitant to offer what might be thought of as criticism. This is why anonymous surveys are so important. Ensuring that employees can give their opinions and insights without fear of reprisal is the only way to know that the feedback is honest.
But feedback is a door that should swing both ways. As you solicit responses from your employees, make sure that you are also regularly touching base with them to access their work, what they bring to the table, and how they can further develop their skills.
10. Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance
In most cases, people work to live; they don’t live to work. And although a person’s career can be a major priority, it’s not fair to expect them to make it their top priority when compared to other aspects of their life. When employees feel as though their jobs are negatively affecting their ability to balance family, social, or other obligations, that’s when they start updating their résumés.
You can help preserve a healthy and rewarding work-life balance by spreading the workload around so that no one person feels as though they can’t afford to get away. Flexible scheduling and less emphasis on time spent in the office further prove that you recognize that work is only one facet of your employees’ lives.
11. Dig Deep in Exit Interviews
Even with the best retention strategies, you will still lose valuable employees to other opportunities. This is a natural part of doing business. It’s also a chance to improve. As you’re performing exit interviews, solicit honest feedback about their experience with your company.
Why bother? Because even if there’s nothing you can do to keep this particular employee on your team, you can still apply their insights (including identifying any specific circumstances that might have driven them away) to improve the experience of those who come after. Many employees will be even more honest during exit interviews than they are with anonymous surveys, so this can be a rare opportunity to dig deep and allow them to say the things that they never felt they could while on your payroll.
At the end of the day, the experiences your employees have with your organization will determine how and when they decide to move on. The good news is that you can take steps to excite, encourage, and evolve your top talent so that they’re more likely to put down the kind of roots that lead to a long and prosperous work relationship. Make employee experience your focus, and employee retention will naturally follow.
Teamraderie, the leader in corporate team building, has the talent and experience to help you bring your people together in commitment and trust. From fun activities to authentic interactions, Teamraderie boosts the employee experience, helping you retain the people who drive your business. Invest in your team; book a unique and fun Teamraderie experience today!