7 Actionable Strategies Leaders Need To Increase Employee Retention
Regardless of a slack or a tight job market, it would be a mistake for leaders to lessen organizational focus on employee retention. 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. That’s why I’m going to share with you 7 actionable strategies leaders need to increase employee retention.
Employee turnover is a major thorn in the side of organizations for a variety of reasons.
Not only does it hurt company culture as employees have to see their co-workers leave either voluntarily or through dismissal, but it also drains resources in three major ways: turnover is costliest in the amount of productivity lost, the resources it takes to train new hires, and the process of recruiting talent.
As talent shortages continue to rage on in the workplace market, retaining top talent should be top of mind for leaders.
When turnover is high in a business, it can have a negative impact on the culture, which in turn means that attracting the best talent is compromised. Plus, it is key for a business to focus on retaining employees to ensure that valuable knowledge remains within the organization and the investment in the right people is worthwhile.
Hiring the right talent is difficult enough. But retaining them is a whole new challenge.
Gone are the days where the employers held all the cards. Employees no longer feel compelled to serve companies that do not serve them. Thus, understanding employee retention is the key to retain those top performers. The best way for company leadership to retain employees is to develop a comprehensive employee retention strategy that aims to improve job satisfaction and employee engagement.
If you want to make a difference and salvage your team from jumping ship or mentally checking out, you’ve got to learn to leverage employee retention strategies to better connect, engage, and motivate your workforce.
How do you win the employee retention battle? How do you keep from losing your employees in this kind of job market? To keep your employees working for you, consider trying these seven employee retention strategies.
Strategy #1: Strong Leadership
Employee retention and engagement will never be higher than your leaders. Leaders have a big impact on turnover and retention: the number one reason employees quit their jobs is because of a poor leadership performance. Everyone is an employee within the organization, from a frontline employee to the CEO. And they have to be concerned with the engagement at all levels.
Effective leadership is integral to employee retention, because employees want to feel they can entrust in the vision of who it is they are following.
While salaries, benefits, and open communication cultivate a sense of security, it is strong leadership that boosts employee morale and motivates workers to remain in their jobs. People follow as they are led, and an ineffective leader creates a negative work environment, which decreases an organization’s chances at maintaining a healthy employee retention rate. Speed of the leaders equals speed of the pack.
Leaders have to be engaged for their subordinates to be engaged.
Team leaders must stay around for the long-term for their team members to want to hang around for long. Leaders have to be happy for their staff to be happy. Leaders have to keep their subordinates engaged in order to boost retention rates. Don’t underestimate the influence your middle managers have on the engagement and retention levels within the organization. Don’t underestimate your influence as a top executive. That is why you should be THE leader of engagement and retention at the company and train everyone else in leadership positions to be THE leader in their small capacities.
People leave managers, not companies. Ever ask people about the jobs they hate and the reasons they left?
Chances are pretty good that one of the first things you’ll hear is griping about a manager or boss, not the products, the customers, or other co-workers. Keep an eye on your managers. People follow as they’re led, and a bad manager creates a negative mess all around. So, while you’re taking the time to train your manager to deal with the technical aspects of their positions, it’s in your best interest to include some “soft skills” as well. This means teaching your managers how to encourage and motivate different types of people, personality traits, conflict management, stress management, crisis management, and so on.
Bad managers are abundant and leave a lasting impression on employees. In fact, if you had a terrible boss in your career, it is likely you will never forget them.
Just as a bad manager can ruin a good job, a great manager can make a good job even better. If you are a leader, it is critical to know what makes a good leader and how to keep your team engaged. As a leader, when you create an environment where expectations are clear, hard work is recognized and you motivate employees to accomplish their goals, this is setting the stage for being a great leader. People want to see the value they bring. They want to contribute, learn and grow. This is the key to great leadership, successful teams, and increased employee retention.
Strategy #2: Encourage Feedback
Regular communication is vital to employee engagement. Encourage employees to speak their minds and provide input on your products, processes, and services. Be respectful of their feedback. Open communication builds trust among employees.
The key here isn’t to just obtain employee feedback, rather, it’s to actively listen to what they are saying.
Actively listening to the feedback employees provide, and making positive changes as a result of that feedback lets employees know that their point of view is valid, and that leadership takes it seriously. It can impart a sense of respect and trust that is otherwise difficult to achieve.
Get curious about them and their ideas. Gone are the days of ‘I am the manager and you do what I tell you to do.’”
No matter how much experience you have I promise you will learn something new from your employees if you give them the chance. 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.
Keeping open lines of communication is a formal way of describing a practice that’s essential for employee retention.
Your direct reports should feel they can come to you with ideas, questions and concerns, and they expect you to be honest and open with them about improvements they need to make in their performance. Make sure you connect with each staff member on a regular basis — don’t let performance issues build up pending the annual review.
Employee engagement happens only when there is a conversation.
Encourage employee one on ones, skip level meetings or interviews, and messages that encourages conversations among employees, their supervisors, and leaders within an organization. Employee communication can be on a formal and informal basis. Less talking and more listening from you the manager of your people. Take notes, ask questions, and be involved. Rinse and repeat.
You don’t have to be a mind reader to know your talent’s true intent. You can figure out how your employees feel by collecting feedback regularly.
Ensure that all employees feel that they have a say about the business, that they are a vital part of the enterprise, not just another tool in the corporate toolbox. Encourage and create a culture of listening in the workplace. There is nothing worse than asking for feedback or suggestions, and then blowing them off as irrelevant.
Strategy #3: Offer Benefits
People want to be rewarded fairly for the work they do. It is common that when an employee moves from one company to the next, they can achieve a pay rise and this can be their main incentive to make a move.
The role that salary and benefits play in an employee’s satisfaction with their work-life is apparent.
In fact, employees are most likely to cite their salary as the top reason for the dissatisfaction that ultimately leads to their decision to quit. This is tightly intertwined with career advancement opportunities employees feel they have, the quality and quantity of the benefits offered, and the job location and accessibility of the workplace.
You can make your company a great place to work — but if you’re not offering a competitive compensation package, chances are, they’re going to eventually leave for a company that will.
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.
Employee benefits aren’t favors per se. They should always be treated as part of employee compensation for services rendered to the company.
Employees feel demotivated when their benefits are used as bait to make them toe the line as opposed to the benefits being a rightful reward they get for playing a critical role in the company’s revenue generation. Even if there has to be repercussions for employee misconduct, you should desist from withholding someone’s benefits or discontinuing them as a disciplinary action.
The importance of maintaining competitive wages seems like a no-brainer.
However, this is a trap many employers fall into. Simply modifying salaries and benefits to remain competitive on the job market, while effective in providing a sense of security to the employee, can be a costly effort to make if it is the only employee retention strategy in place. It should instead work as a component of a larger, cost-effective, employee retention system.
Organizations that treat employees well with meaningful benefits packages that include generous vacations and work-from-home opportunities, for example, have lower turnover and significantly higher financial performance.
Beyond regular benefits (such as health insurance, sick leave, retirement packages, vacation time, health-savings plans, and so on), offer other benefits that cater to the needs of your employees specifically. Working parents might find flexible work schedules and childcare options attractive; some might like sabbaticals; others might like gym memberships, profit sharing, or other financial incentives. Ask for your employees’ input and listen to their suggestions.
Strategy #4: Provide Growth Opportunities
Employees want to be able to successfully and productively accomplish their jobs, but that requires the tools that are essential not only to get the job done, but to update their skills. We’re not talking about hammers and nails here, we’re talking about a continued education program, that is, ongoing training.
Employees become more committed to your company, more engaged for that matter, when their potential is fully utilized.
They are happy to see their talents utilized to drive company growth. They love to see the management help them discover their hidden talents and help develop their known talents. They want to see new career opportunities, clear career path options presented to them regularly. They feel valued when they are sponsored for career growth programs and provided with tools and resources to help them grow.
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. 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.
Many companies promote people from outside of the organization, and don’t offer ongoing training and education for their workers.
Because there is no way to advance or improve, employees become disillusioned in their roles, and are less likely to stay. By promoting from within and implementing a training program, or by leveraging outside resources and tools (such as workshops, books, online courses and videos, etc.), you can create a powerful incentive for your team members to stay over the long haul. Employees see these initiatives as an investment in *their* future.
The newest members of the workforce (Millennials and Gen-Z) require development opportunities.
42% of employees say that they will stick with an organization if it invests in their development. Provide skill-development opportunities and offer mentors. Give employees avenues to learn new skills and acquire knowledge. Facilitate job rotation. Some companies even go so far as to offer tuition reimbursement to their employees. Pick a strategy that works for your organization, but make sure all of your employees are encouraged to develop and grow.
When looking at the reasons people leave their jobs, money is often not the main motivator.
At Facebook, engagement survey results illustrated that people were leaving because of the work and the roles they were in. Another big reason employees leave a job is a lack of career advancement opportunities. One employee retention strategy to keep ambitious workers is to create more in-role growth opportunities so they can advance more quickly. For instance, stratify entry-level positions into six positions instead of two or three. This way, employees can advance by a level every six months rather than having to wait two to three years.
Strategy #5: Wellbeing Is King
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. So, if you want to improve employee retention, you need to prevent employee burnout — and that means making work-life balance a non-negotiable.
The balance of work and personal life needs to be healthy for employees to feel secure and comfortable in their position.
If an employee feels as though most of their waking life is spent working, and they barely have time for anything else, they blame the employer for thrusting that imbalance upon them. Once an employer is in tune with the pain points of their employees, they can then work to alleviate the stressors accordingly by adjusting the demands placed on employees and the policies surrounding work culture and their professional expectations.
Good employers not only know how to address the complaints of their workforce but are also able to stay attuned and recognize those employees who do not overtly express their frustrations.
In many cases, employees who eventually quit due to the stressful amount of demands placed on them typically don’t realize that they are being overworked until it is too late. Therefore, it is not only important for the employer to stay cognizant of the well-being of their employees in the resolution of conflicts, but also encourage a work culture that does not lead to a constant output of an exhausted and frustrated workforce.
Keeping employees fit, mentally, physically and financially, is just good business.
Of employers polled for a Robert Half survey, 74% said they have mental wellness offerings of some sort, such as stress management programs. Sixty-five percent of employers offer financial wellness resources, such as retirement planning or credit counseling. And 63% said they provide gym access, incentives for engaging in healthy behavior or other physical wellness options.
Demonstrating to employees that you care about them by investing in their overall well-being can improve loyalty.
Employees who work for an organization with a wellness program are less likely to leave their jobs for a different one. Furthermore, employees indicate wellness programs are a reason they would accept a job over another job. To improve your recruiting and retention efforts, make your wellness program part of your brand and promote your company culture to both job candidates and employees. Dedicate resources to promoting your wellness program both internally and externally.
Remember: People want to work in an environment where they’re valued and appreciated for their contributions.
Americans already devote more hours to work than our counterparts in other countries — 137 hours/year more than Japanese workers and 499 hours more than French employees. By offering wellness programs, employers can show they’re invested in their team as more than just a cog in the wheel of business — they prioritize the whole person. For example, getting good quality sleep is critical to overall well-being and productivity and creativity at work, and clinical results show that workers sleep better when they follow a regular exercise program.
Strategy #6: Live Your Values
While many businesses are actively embracing diversity in their workplace, they are failing to recognize the value of inclusion, and what it means to be inclusive. An inclusive workplace is one that allows and encourages people to be who they are, to share their unique talents and points of view, and helps them to feel appreciated and supported not in spite of their differences, but because of them.
Employees who are able to see diversity in their business leaders are more likely to stay with the business.
Inclusivity creates a feeling of belonging in employees, encourages employees to be able to be comfortable being their true selves, and fosters a culture of open communication. It may seem cliche, but each of us really is a special snowflake. Encouraging inclusivity and a sense of individuality in employees has been shown to increase greater retention, and less turnover.
The culture at your company is influenced by its leaders and their behaviors.
Their values, goals, and attitudes will shape the character of your organization. Your company culture starts with a clear mission and set of core values, respect, workplace involvement, positivity, and transparency. Work on your workplace culture to ensure you have employees who are satisfied with their jobs and can connect to their work in a meaningful way.
Skills and expertise can be developed. But hiring someone keeping your cultural values in mind will result in more loyal and engaged employees.
New hires are able to blend in with the team quicker. They feel comfortable and are able to contribute faster. Ask candidates questions that are related to your company values. Explain how the role correlates with the values. This will help them to get an idea about what is expected of them. 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.
Nearly all organizations talk about their values. And most try to live them.
But it’s especially important for leadership to consciously live those values. It all comes down to trust: if leadership says one thing but does another, what happens to trust? This kind of disconnect is toxic to retention. Real engagement is an attitude, and it’s an attitude that is ignited from the top and permeates the entire organization. Demonstrate your commitment to improving all aspects of your organization, not just the bottom line. And always treat colleagues with respect, especially in the most difficult or heated situations. These are just a few of the ways that you model engagement and generate a culture of engagement.
People have a desire to do work that is meaningful to them.
If they believe their work matters, they are more likely to be engaged, they learn faster, and they have a sense of fulfillment. A company’s leaders are responsible for connecting their employees to purpose and the organization’s values. Leaders should focus on nurturing employee relationships, providing resources for reinforcing these values, and talking to employees about their impact on the organization. The elements that make up a positive and encouraging work culture are unique to every organization but envisioning the desired culture that will improve employee retention rates is the responsibility of the employer.
Strategy #7: Say Thank You
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.
Demonstrating that an employee’s contributions are valued fosters further engagement, and strengthens the chance at effective employee retention.
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. 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.
Indifference demotivates employees. Acknowledge their efforts and reward them appropriately.
These rewards can range from simple thank-you notes to financial incentives, gifts, and promotions. Managers should always look for a chance to applaud their staff: the carrot is as important (if not more so) than the stick. More touch points with employees offer opportunities to say ‘thank you’ and ‘job well done.’ Making employee satisfaction one of the key factors you measure in your business helps hold managers accountable for keeping teams engaged, and ensures that they’re regularly checking in with their employees. Providing regular employee recognition helps keep team members fully invested in in your company’s success, instead of just working for the weekends.
Look for achievements and milestones that can be rewarded. And it doesn’t have to be a top-down process.
Encourage peer recognition. Employees notify their manager when a coworker has gone beyond the call of duty with a customer or when providing outstanding advice or assistance. Think you have a great team? Surprise them with lunch occasionally just to say thank you and job well done.
We want staff that’s mindful of the work they do, that give 100%.
Recognition and rewards validate those efforts. A cash bonus is a one-time incentive. In contrast, being recognized among your peers and fellow co-workers for going the extra mile and contributing meaningfully to the company is a lasting achievement — and once our fundamental needs are met, we all want to make a difference in our lives and/or in the world.
Effective, multifaceted engagement with employees of all types and stripes is hard — but replacing them is even harder and more expensive. Leaders and organizations that invest the time to figure out what employees need to stay engaged in their jobs will be most successful in keeping them. A strong employee retention strategy will also appeal to a happier, more productive workforce who inspire and elevate others around them.
Creating a successful workplace begins with developing a strong program of effective employee retention strategies.
Any successful employee retention strategy asks of a leader one simple thing: to think of things from the team’s point of view. Employees want to feel that their contributions are valued, and their efforts appreciated by their employer. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide a sense of security to their employees, but also to cultivate a culture of open communication and transparency.
Without an employee retention strategy, you may find your business becoming a revolving door of employees.
This ends up costing you more money and time that you may not have. It also strains your other employees who have to double their workload to cover for missing employees. Creating an employee retention strategy based on your employees’ needs is proactive instead of reactive. It gives you the opportunity to fix problems before they arise to retain good employees who get you the results you need to keep your business running smoothly.
Your organization’s success relies on your ability to not only hire top talent, but to keep that talent around.
And with the strategies above, you have everything you need to improve employee retention — and improve your company in the process. Work to forge better ways and better strategies for retaining your organization’s talent and you’ll reap the benefits in your company culture and your bottom line. Most of all, keep getting better. Talent management is all about the continuous improvement of people and the organization.
Take nothing for granted. Do the right things for the right reasons and good things happen — for everyone.
By focusing on the employee journey, and playing an active role in creating a positive workplace culture, company leadership is better able to retain the employees that they have worked so hard to gain. So, do you evaluate your employee retention strategies periodically? Do you take regular feedback and suggestions from your employees? Feel free to share your own experience with our fellow Geeknackers in the comments below!