Employee retention should always be a priority. A staggering 35% of employees may leave their jobs each year by 2023. And with the new normal of remote work, employees have a wider range of potential employers to evaluate than ever before.
HR leaders need to develop a range of strategies to positively impact employee retention. With open feedback channels, building a culture of recognition, and other key techniques, you can boost your retention efforts this year and beyond.
Why employee retention matters
Employee retention needs to be top of mind for any company, as the cost of losing top talent is great. SHRM estimates that it costs $20,000 to $30,000 in recruiting and training expenses to replace a manager making $40,000 a year. This doesn’t even account for losses in terms of interview time, knowledge, productivity, or cultural impact. And low retention rates also impact motivation, productivity, and performance. Before employees quit, they may become less of a team player, do the minimum amount of work, and fail to commit to long-term deadlines.
HR isn’t powerless, though — 77% of the reasons behind employee departures are preventable. The key is to pinpoint the issues that may be driving employees to leave and address them before it’s too late.
9 strategies for employee retention
Here are 9 ways to remedy existing retention problems and prevent new retention issues from cropping up in the future.
1. Build employee engagement
Disengaged employees are detrimental to your organization. They bring down morale, discourage other employees from doing their best work, and set poor examples. Unfortunately, only 21% of employees say they’re very engaged, and disengaged employees cost the U.S. over $450 billion per year in lost productivity.
Few things bring down engagement like failing to give employees a voice. Employees want to influence decisions that affect their work and the direction of the organization, and giving employees a real say can dramatically improve retention. Turning feedback into action demonstrates that leadership takes employees’ concerns seriously. Ninety percent of workers say that they are more likely to stay at a company that takes and acts on feedback. But only 22% of HR and engagement leaders say their organization is effective at creating a culture that supports clear feedback.
Introducing new opportunities for employees to give candid feedback is valuable to them and your company. Employees can highlight problems before they surface to higher-ups, suggest new projects, and lend outside perspectives to company decisions. Organizations can capitalize on employee ideas and address issues quickly and effectively.
Giving employees a voice starts with employee engagement surveys delivered with the aid of a modern engagement platform. These solutions help you ask the right questions to reveal how employees truly feel about their role, team, and manager. Rather than settling for long annual surveys that aren’t actionable, use pulse surveys, short sets of questions sent on a recurring basis, to measure employee engagement in real time.
Outside of surveys, HR chatbots are a great way to create an always-on channel for employee feedback. 24/7 chatbots allow employees to give feedback whenever they are ready, wherever they are, ensuring that they feel heard regularly. These AI-powered tools are constantly learning so they keep up with your organization’s ever-changing employee engagement landscape.
Analyzing and acting on the feedback you receive is just as important as collecting it. Are people responding to surveys or chatbots? If not, switch up the questions or take action more visibly and frequently. If so, what results were most surprising, and why? The best employee engagement solutions help quickly identify the most pressing challenges and guide managers through the process of creating collaborative action plans with their teams.
2. Get recognition and rewards right
Employees who feel appreciated work harder and stay at companies longer, but over 80% of American employees say they don’t feel recognized or rewarded. Building a culture of recognition is more than recognizing people every once in a while. It requires frequent, specific acknowledgment. The Brandon Hall Group found that companies that recognize employees multiple times a month are 41% more likely to see increased employee retention and 34% more likely to see increased engagement.
To make consistent recognition a reality, your organization should prioritize both social recognition and monetary rewards, preferably by using a recognition platform that helps everyone get in on the action. These platforms support points-based reward systems that let employees accumulate and redeem points for rewards that actually matter to them. And they make showing recognition easy whether employees are in office or working remotely, as they can send messages of appreciation to anyone at your organization whenever and wherever works best for them.
3. Recruit the right employees
The best employees want to be around others that inspire them, not those that bring them down. Find ways to attract first-rate candidates who align with your culture and will stick with your company for years to come. For example, while employees expect to sell themselves, they also want to be sold on your company. What interesting aspects of your culture can you emphasize on your careers page? Do you have amazing fringe benefits like monthly massages, onsite fitness centers, or generous parental leave policies? Did your company land in a “Best Places to Work” list? Think about how to best position your work environment for each candidate and position.
You can also look into gamifying recruiting, which is a great way to make the process fun. From hackathons to digital games to fictional VR scenarios, the possibilities offered by gamification are limitless. Those who opt into these games are expressing interest in your company, and the winners will likely be dedicated to the role they are applying for.
Keep in mind that the best candidates don’t always come from Ivy League schools. Build relationships with professional groups, community college career offices, and other relevant associations to get a more diverse applicant pool. Cater to different generations’ needs by offering professional development opportunities, flexible schedules, and the ability to work remotely. Spotlighting a strong culture of recognition is important, too. Almost half of millennials prefer to be rewarded or recognized for their work at least monthly.
4. Create an exceptional onboarding experience
Making employees feel like a part of your organization starts with their onboarding and continues through their first year at the company. It can take a new employee up to two full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member, so making them feel comfortable and capable at the outset can do wonders for retention.
Help new employees shift from an outsider to insider by educating them about their responsibilities, giving them the agency and resources needed to complete their tasks and goals, and creating an environment where they feel accepted. Don’t inundate people with too much information, though. Trickle it out slowly with digestible guidelines on your HR programs, policies and procedures, and benefits. And ask employees for feedback so you can keep iterating on your onboarding process.
Managers have a big role to play during onboarding. Remind them that how well onboarding goes can affect how connected the employees are to the organization throughout their tenure. Suggest ways for them to get to know their new employees and encourage them to set up one-on-one meetings each week as the new person is getting acclimated.
Introduce new hires to their teammates as well, and set them up with a mentor so that they have someone on-hand to answer questions. Building social connections between coworkers increases the likelihood of retention, so host events that rally people around shared interests when large cohorts of new hires come on board. You should also ensure that remote employees aren’t left behind when it comes to onboarding.
Lastly, don’t forget about finding ways to integrate groups who might be returning to work. This might include new parents, people coming back from extended leave, or contract workers who are signing on full-time. These employees often aren’t included in onboarding efforts, but their transitions can be just as difficult as those new hires face.
5. Provide avenues for professional development
The total loss to a business from ineffective training can add up to $13.5 million each year per 1,000 employees. Unsurprisingly, there is a direct link between low investment in employee development and staff turnover. On the flip side, supporting professional development and continuous learning uplifts your employees and boosts retention.
Educating your employees, setting up clear career paths, and instituting coaching programs makes everyone more creative, engaged, and effective at work. Explore providing reimbursement for continuing education and certification programs, as well as industry events and conferences. You can also host internal knowledge sharing sessions where employees teach one another new skills. Give your employees options depending on how they want to grow, and remember, it’s possible to encourage development in targeted ways without breaking the bank.
Lastly, ask managers to take chances on employees who have shown interest in a new area by giving them a side project to work on. Doing so shows employees that their bosses care about their career trajectory and trust them to bring their expertise to other areas of the business.
6. Build a culture employees want to be a part of
Culture is paramount to attracting and retaining top talent. Glassdoor found that 77% of workers consider a company’s culture before applying, and the Associated Press reports that nearly half of employees would leave their current job for a lower-paying one at an organization with a better culture. Cultivating a strong organizational culture will deepen existing employee relationships, pave the way for better customer service, and draw in exceptional talent.
Developing a standout culture involves rewarding people who act on your company’s values every day. These values should be meaningful to every employee and communicated in a way that everyone can internalize and understand. Tie company goals to your products and services, and outline how your company’s mission plays into how your employees work with partners, customers, and vendors. And if you're rewriting your core values or trying to establish more company alignment, ask your employees for help. After all, they experience your company culture every day and have the context needed to shape truly meaningful values.
7. Offer winning incentives
Incentives are a concrete way to acknowledge employees for fantastic work. Eighty-five percent of workers feel more motivated to do their best when an incentive is offered. There are endless ways to incentivize your employees. First, make sure that the compensation your organization offers is appropriate 一 it’s a major reason behind employee departures. Then think about other monetary incentives like referral programs, tuition reimbursement, and profit-sharing. Bonuses and raises are always appreciated as well.
There are plenty of other incentives that keep your employees healthy and happy. Wellness rewards like gym memberships or subscriptions to meditation apps can help your employees unwind and take care of themselves. Giving managers a stipend to put on fun events each month, letting employees choose what projects they work on, and providing extra paid time off to rest and recharge are also excellent options that motivate just as well as more traditional incentives.
8. Manage to retain
The relationship between managers and their direct reports can make an enormous impact on the employee experience. Almost half of employees quit their job because of a bad manager, and 60% think their managers need training. And according to Gallup, only 26% of employees strongly agree the feedback they get from managers helps their work performance.
The best managers act as coaches and focus on getting the best out of their direct reports. They’re optimistic, assertive, recognize employee value, and provide actionable feedback. A coaching approach fosters mutual trust, making it feel like bosses and their direct reports are on the same team. Perhaps most importantly, coaching reduces stress. By setting goals, giving workers autonomy, and evaluating progress often, employees know exactly where they stand and where they need to go.
Coaching works because managers take the time to understand each employee’s background and play to their individual strengths. Gallup found that workers who know and use their strengths average 10 to 19% increased sales and help boost their organization’s bottom line.
Managers who recognize employees consistently reap the benefits in terms of improved employee confidence and engagement. Fifty percent of employees say that being thanked by managers improved their relationship and built trust.
9. Prevent burnout by focusing on employee wellness
Employee burnout is a major issue in the United States, and it’s occuring at an alarming rate 一 76% of employees experience burnout on the job. Burnout symptoms like a lack of energy, negative emotions, and feelings of isolation are endemic and tough to overcome. Burnout can even manifest physically, leaving employees with no choice but to leave your organization.
The good news is that your organization can nip burnout in the bud. Try giving employees more flexible hours, and make sure that responsibilities and expectations are clear and appropriate. Teach managers to look for signs of burnout and reach out to people who might be struggling. Encourage employees to use their vacation time and help them find hobbies that ignite their curiosity. Arrange fitness challenges, host a webinar on the importance of sleep, or even have a nutritionist give a talk on healthy eating habits.
Finally, ask your employees for feedback. They probably know exactly what is causing burnout in your organization and have ideas on how to combat it.
Boost employee retention with an employee experience solution
Implementing all 9 strategies above may seem overwhelming, but there are tools to make the process easier. Achievers Recognize is an award-winning recognition platform that helps organizations retain employees through frequent appreciation. Rooted in science, Achievers Recognize is designed to make recognition intuitive and fun for any user. It encourages frequent, meaningful appreciation that will transform your organization’s culture.
Global brands like General Motors and McDonalds rely on Achievers to power their recognition programs. Their trust is well-warranted 一 Achievers customers are:
- 2.5 times more likely to see increased employee retention
- 36% more likely to see an increase in employee engagement
- 54% more likely to give their culture of recognition a high rating than customers of other technology providers
- 3.6 times more likely than customers of other providers to give recognition multiple times each month
Achievers Recognize works hand-in-hand with Achievers Listen, a comprehensive engagement tool that gives employees a voice through engagement surveys and always-on chatbots. Its built-in analysis features show where you stand when it comes to employee retention and how to address the key engagement factors that keep employees with your company. Achievers Listen guides managers through the collaborative process of working with their team to address issues that impact engagement and retention, resulting in effective action plans that everyone believes in.
Start prioritizing employee retention at your organization by signing up for a free demo today.