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20 Strategies to Maximize Employee Retention

Cassandra Rose, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

No one likes los­ing employ­ees. When a per­son leaves, it costs time, mon­ey and deliv­ers a mas­sive blow to com­pa­ny morale. In fact, SHRM report­ed that every time a com­pa­ny los­es one of its peo­ple, it costs about one-third of that employee’s annu­al salary to replace them.

It’s no won­der that 87% of com­pa­nies agree that increas­ing employ­ee reten­tion is crit­i­cal to their company’s ongo­ing strat­e­gy. How­ev­er, max­i­miz­ing employ­ee reten­tion is no easy feat.

Your Wellness Program Doesn’t Work

Let’s face facts. There’s been a 33% decline in men­tal health and well-being among employ­ees since the begin­ning of the pan­dem­ic. 60% of com­pa­nies are unsure how to sup­port employ­ees in a flex­i­ble envi­ron­ment, and two in five employ­ees plan to leave their cur­rent role due to how they feel their employ­ers han­dled the pandemic.

The sta­tus quo isn’t work­ing, and it’s a direct result of how peo­ple are being treated.

For com­pa­nies seek­ing to increase employ­ee reten­tion, these 20 strate­gies are an excel­lent place to start.

20 Proven Ways to Retain Employees

1. Streamline the Onboarding Process

An employee’s poten­tial for suc­cess and long-term reten­tion starts dur­ing the onboard­ing and train­ing process. How­ev­er, this process is often rushed or ill-con­ceived, leav­ing peo­ple unequipped to thrive.

Pos­i­tive train­ing and onboard­ing expe­ri­ences pro­vide peo­ple with the tools and knowl­edge they need to flour­ish, and it can boost reten­tion rates up to 82%.

Busi­ness­es should focus on stream­lin­ing their ori­en­ta­tion expe­ri­ence to ensure that every new employ­ee gets a thor­ough and accu­rate intro­duc­tion to com­pa­ny expec­ta­tions, pro­ce­dures and culture.

2. Consider a Mentorship Program

Com­pa­nies that offer a men­tor­ship pro­gram have seen their reten­tion rates increase by as much as 50%. Match­ing new employ­ees with men­tors is an excel­lent way to help new team mem­bers nav­i­gate and adjust to their role in the organization.

Men­tor­ing pro­grams help new team mem­bers learn and bond with vet­er­an employ­ees, while the vet­er­ans become invest­ed in their new cowork­ers. The goal is to pro­vide new employ­ees with a long-term con­fi­dant who can help them through­out their tenure with­out fear of neg­a­tive repercussions.

As a bonus, this helps build team cama­raderie and cul­ti­vate a cul­ture where peo­ple gen­uine­ly care about one anoth­er. Orga­ni­za­tions with peo­ple-cen­tric cul­tures inspire loyalty.

3. Offer Competitive Compensation

There’s one thing that Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Mil­len­ni­als can all agree on — salaries are cru­cial. Inad­e­quate pay is the pri­ma­ry rea­son 70% of peo­ple leave their jobs.

Some­times the best strat­e­gy is the most straight­for­ward. When pos­si­ble, com­pa­nies should offer com­pet­i­tive hourly wages and salaries to recruit the high­est qual­i­ty team mem­bers and show their peo­ple that they’re valued.

4. Provide Necessary Benefits

Once their base­line salary needs are met, most peo­ple want more ben­e­fits. More than 80% of employ­ees would rather have bet­ter ben­e­fits than extra pay.

Most top-lev­el employ­ees active­ly search for fun­da­men­tal and tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits like health insur­ance, life insur­ance, den­tal and vision, and dis­abil­i­ty insur­ance as part of their com­pen­sa­tion pack­age to con­sid­er stay­ing with a com­pa­ny long-term.

5. Offer Lifestyle Benefits

Beyond basic ben­e­fits, many employ­ees are also active­ly seek­ing com­pa­nies that offer lifestyle ben­e­fits. In fact, 68% of employ­ees agree that lifestyle ben­e­fits are just as impor­tant as tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits when deter­min­ing their longevi­ty with an organization.

Lifestyle ben­e­fits include free snacks, extra days off, dis­counts, bonus­es, gym mem­ber­ships, sub­scrip­tion ser­vices, tuition reim­burse­ments, month­ly cof­fee or gas bud­gets and more. The inclu­sion of lifestyle ben­e­fits attracts high-qual­i­ty peo­ple and keeps them hap­py, moti­vat­ed and thriving.

No one is lit­er­al­ly think­ing, ​“If I leave this job, I won’t be able to afford Net­flix.” How­ev­er, if a com­pa­ny offers ben­e­fits that sup­port its employ­ees’ lifestyles, it also rec­og­nizes that they have a life out­side of work.

6. Establish Development Opportunities

70% of employ­ees think about leav­ing their job because of a lack of devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties. 82% report that they will find new employ­ment if there isn’t a clear and pro­gres­sive career path with­in an organization.

The aver­age mil­len­ni­al switch­es jobs every two to six years because it’s often eas­i­er to find a high­er posi­tion with a new orga­ni­za­tion than to grow with­in their cur­rent company.

Most peo­ple want to grow as both humans and pro­fes­sion­als, so they seek com­pa­nies that invest in their employ­ees by offer­ing on-the-job devel­op­ment, edu­ca­tion and advance­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties. If an orga­ni­za­tion wants to max­i­mize reten­tion, it should focus on pro­vid­ing employ­ees with oppor­tu­ni­ties for devel­op­ment and career growth.

7. Give Consistent Feedback and Recognition

Almost 50% of employ­ees say they will leave a com­pa­ny if they don’t feel appre­ci­at­ed for their work. If they’re work­ing hard and pro­duc­ing stel­lar results, they want their boss­es to notice. Con­verse­ly, if they’re under­per­form­ing, they also want the oppor­tu­ni­ty to rem­e­dy their shortcomings.

How much pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive feed­back should lead­ers give their teams? Accord­ing to Har­vard Busi­ness Review, super­vi­sors should aim for a pos­i­tive-to-con­struc­tive feed­back ratio of 5.6 (pos­i­tive) to 1 (con­struc­tive) to make employ­ees feel rec­og­nized and help them improve.

8. Think About Work-Life Balance

An increas­ing num­ber of employ­ees want a healthy work-life bal­ance. In fact, near­ly 60% of mil­len­ni­als agree that a work-life bal­ance is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant for them in a long-term employer.

Com­pa­nies should avoid encour­ag­ing around-the-clock avail­abil­i­ty and long work hours. The Sil­i­con Val­ley-inspired, hus­tle-hard­er men­tal­i­ty is crip­pling and demo­ti­vat­ing for most peo­ple. Telling peo­ple to always be avail­able sends a mes­sage that the com­pa­ny doesn’t care about their life out­side of work.

For many employ­ees, that’s a clear warn­ing sign, and it will like­ly result in them look­ing for anoth­er orga­ni­za­tion to call home. Instead of push­ing for longer days and even longer nights, orga­ni­za­tions should con­sid­er set­ting email cut-off times and dis­cour­age work­ing late. They should look for oth­er ways to pro­mote a sus­tain­able and healthy work-life bal­ance for their team.

9. Allow Flexible Working Arrangements

Near­ly 80% of employ­ees want a flex­i­ble work envi­ron­ment. These arrange­ments can mean offer­ing extra time off or allow­ing flex­i­ble sched­ules. Sim­ply offer­ing a work-from-home option can reduce turnover rates by 25%.

Some­times flex­i­bil­i­ty is as sim­ple as let­ting employ­ees lis­ten to music while they work or wear casu­al cloth­ing. Com­pa­nies should look at their inter­nal poli­cies to see where they can loosen their restric­tions and give their peo­ple more flexibility.

10. Foster a Culture of Teamwork

It’s no secret that when employ­ees sup­port each oth­er, morale is high­er. High­er morale means bet­ter job sat­is­fac­tion and increased reten­tion rates. Team­work also fos­ters cre­ativ­i­ty, boosts pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and builds a sense of community.

37% of employ­ees say that ​“work­ing with a great team” is the main rea­son they stay with their cur­rent com­pa­ny. 54% of peo­ple admit­ted they stayed with com­pa­nies longer than they should have because the sense of com­mu­ni­ty and team­work was so strong.

In oth­er words, pro­mot­ing and fos­ter­ing a cul­ture of team­work is a proven-effec­tive strat­e­gy for max­i­miz­ing employ­ee retention.

11. Encourage Meaningful Connections Between Co-Workers

Aside from fos­ter­ing a team­work cul­ture, com­pa­nies should encour­age their employ­ees to make mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions with each oth­er. Peo­ple with close friend­ships at work are sev­en times more like­ly to be sat­is­fied, engaged and pro­duc­tive in their jobs.

One way to accom­plish this is by incor­po­rat­ing a peer recog­ni­tion pro­gram. Com­pa­nies that added meth­ods for peer recog­ni­tion had 28% high­er reten­tion rates than com­pa­nies that didn’t.

12. Promote Creativity and Innovation

Allow­ing peo­ple to be cre­ative, inno­v­a­tive and think out­side the box shows employ­ees that their opin­ions and ideas mat­ter. More­over, fos­ter­ing employ­ee cre­ativ­i­ty is also a fan­tas­tic way to pro­mote com­pa­ny growth.

Google’s for­mer 20% pro­gram allowed employ­ees to spend 20% of their work time work­ing on side projects. The employ­ees felt like Google invest­ed in them, which led to the devel­op­ment of many of Google’s sta­ple prod­ucts, includ­ing Gmail, AdSense, Google News and more.

Pro­mot­ing cre­ativ­i­ty helps keep employ­ees engaged and invest­ed in the company’s long-term goals. Orga­ni­za­tions should look for ways to sup­port cre­ativ­i­ty and prob­lem-solv­ing and encour­age their employ­ees to think like innovators.

13. Earn Your Employees’ Trust Through Transparency

Peo­ple need to know their orga­ni­za­tion will take care of them when times get hard. They need to know that their com­pa­ny won’t fire them unjus­ti­fi­ably or make irre­spon­si­ble busi­ness deci­sions. Ulti­mate­ly, peo­ple just want to feel secure, and that starts with trans­par­ent and open communication.

Trust is extreme­ly impor­tant for the mod­ern employ­ee: 46% of employ­ees con­sid­er leav­ing their employ­er because of a lack of trans­par­ent communication.

If an orga­ni­za­tion wants to max­i­mize reten­tion, they have to focus on earn­ing the trust of their employ­ees. This starts at the top, so exec­u­tives should com­mu­ni­cate com­pa­ny goals as clear­ly as pos­si­ble and pro­mote hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion on every level.

14. Implement Gradual Changes Instead of Hasty Ones

Change is inevitable, espe­cial­ly in busi­ness. If com­pa­nies have to make changes, they should do it grad­u­al­ly rather than all at once. Abrupt shifts can have a neg­a­tive impact on morale and cause even vet­er­an employ­ees to leave.

Giv­en enough time, any employ­ee can accli­mate to change, but if a com­pa­ny wants to improve reten­tion and keep their peo­ple, they should imple­ment mea­sured and delib­er­ate tran­si­tions rather than hasty ones.

15. Ask for Feedback about Executives and Supervisors

50% of employ­ees leave because of a super­vi­sor. One poor leader can result in an exces­sive amount of turnover. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, iden­ti­fy­ing prob­lem­at­ic lead­ers can be chal­leng­ing. Under­per­form­ing man­agers often behave much dif­fer­ent­ly in front of their supe­ri­ors than their subordinates.

For that rea­son, com­pa­nies should ask for reg­u­lar anony­mous feed­back from their employ­ees regard­ing super­vi­sors. How­ev­er, com­pa­nies need to be sure they’re ready to lis­ten and imple­ment employ­ee feed­back. Not lis­ten­ing to their peo­ple can dimin­ish over­all trust in the company’s lead­er­ship and do more harm than not ask­ing in the first place.

16. Make Rest and Time-Off Required

Burnout is to blame for up to half of all year­ly turnover. Yet, so many com­pa­nies are built on a hus­tle men­tal­i­ty that forces peo­ple to burn the can­dle at both ends. For instance, at least one-third of employ­ees don’t even take a lunch break. They just eat lunch at their desk and keep mov­ing forward.

To max­i­mize reten­tion and keep peo­ple from burn­ing out, com­pa­nies should make time-off and breaks required. They should encour­age their employ­ees to take lunch breaks and not respond to emails after hours. There should always be enough team mem­bers to cov­er shifts and pro­vide breaks, because even the most skilled work­ers need time to rest.

17. Provide All the Necessary Tools for Success and Growth

Employ­ees want com­pa­nies to pro­vide them with the tools they need to thrive. There’s too much tech­nol­o­gy avail­able for peo­ple to waste their time and tal­ent on menial busywork.

Why? Because it’s demor­al­iz­ing for employ­ees to feel like they spend most of their day doing tedious tasks rather than acti­vat­ing their skillset. It can make them feel unap­pre­ci­at­ed and under­val­ued, and, ulti­mate­ly, it can cause them to look for a new place to work.

Com­pa­nies should invest in the lat­est tech­nol­o­gy, tools and soft­ware. This will not only make employ­ees hap­pi­er, but it will also aid in productivity.

18. Hire the Right People

It doesn’t mat­ter how many strate­gies a com­pa­ny has in place. If an orga­ni­za­tion doesn’t hire the right team mem­bers, it will con­tin­u­al­ly strug­gle with turnover and reten­tion. When focus­ing on reten­tion, com­pa­nies must put a micro­scope on the recruit­ment and hir­ing process to ensure the right peo­ple join their team.

Don’t hire peo­ple for what they know. Hire them for what they can learn. Com­pa­nies need peo­ple who are will­ing and able to learn a broad range of skills, and employ­ees need com­pa­nies that will allow them the time and space to cul­ti­vate those skills.

Recruiters should look for peo­ple who have longevi­ty in their past work expe­ri­ence and pri­or­i­tize soft skills and cul­tur­al fits over hard skills that can be taught lat­er down the road. Skilled and per­son­able peo­ple who will vibe with the team dynam­ic should be giv­en priority.

19. Focus on Engagement

43% of peo­ple report being bored in their cur­rent posi­tions. These employ­ees feel like their com­pa­ny isn’t uti­liz­ing their tal­ents, and there aren’t enough oppor­tu­ni­ties to hone or learn new skills. Once employ­ees are dis­en­gaged, they often leave to find com­pa­nies that will spark their inter­est and employ their strengths.

To retain top tal­ent, com­pa­nies should focus on increas­ing employ­ee engage­ment through devel­op­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties. They should pro­vide plen­ty of chances for team mem­bers to use their skills on the job.

Engage­ment can be one of those myth­i­cal HR buzz­words, but it boils down to mak­ing sure peo­ple are being chal­lenged and rec­og­nized for what they bring to a work envi­ron­ment. Employ­ees who are allowed to engage with and acti­vate their attrib­ut­es will feel seen by their super­vi­sors, invest­ed in their work and be much more like­ly to stick around.

20. Provide a Custom Fringe Benefit Program

Anoth­er way to main­tain top tal­ent is to offer a cus­tomized fringe ben­e­fits pro­gram. It allows employ­ees to choose lifestyle ben­e­fits that fit their unique needs. With cus­tomized ben­e­fits, employ­ees feel val­ued, com­pen­sat­ed and acknowl­edged by their com­pa­nies in a mean­ing­ful and last­ing way.

Fringe spe­cial­izes in cus­tomiz­able lifestyle ben­e­fits. Com­pa­nies give their employ­ees points as part of their tai­lored com­pen­sa­tion pack­age or for recog­ni­tion, spe­cial occa­sions and more. Employ­ees can use these points to choose the ben­e­fits that will have the most sig­nif­i­cant impact on their lives.

Tra­di­tion­al ben­e­fits and ​“perks pro­grams” are ben­e­fit mod­els that rep­re­sent a direct cor­re­la­tion between effort and reward. With cus­tomized lifestyle ben­e­fits, com­pa­nies can show con­sis­tent care for their employ­ees, which ulti­mate­ly builds val­ue and trust. It’s a ter­rif­ic way to keep employ­ees engaged and hap­py in the long term.

To learn more about max­i­miz­ing employ­ee reten­tion with Fringe, sched­ule a free demo today.

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