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12 Practical Employee Retention Strategies

How to Sustainably Improve the Employee Experience, Engagement, and Empowerment


Written by HRCap, Inc.

March 9, 2023



With voluntary resignations and the ongoing talent shortage, employee retention is becoming increasingly important across all organizations. Losing high-performing employees can damage the company's morale, productivity, and bottom line.


In fact, replacing an employee generally costs between one-half to two times their annual salary, according to Gallup 2019. Though there are many reasons employees leave their job, 52% of voluntarily exiting employees say their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from quitting their job.

To improve employee retention, employers must address the underlying issues and apply relevant retention strategies to reduce turnover rates.



12 Practical Employee Retention Strategies


Though many practical employee retention strategies are easy to implement, many are overlooked because they are rather simple and common. Organizations must truly commit to welcoming and enforcing these strategies to effectively retain and hire top talent.



1. Strengthening Onboarding Processes

Employee retention strategies start as early as the onboarding process, which can improve the employee experience and productivity. Brandon Hall Group research indicates comprehensive onboarding processes improve new-hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. A strong onboarding process will help employees to feel confident in the workplace and help them to be successful in the long run, which will boost employee retention.



2. Offering Competitive Compensation


Organizations should also properly compensate their employees based on the current job market. The 2022 Pew Research Center survey shows the top reason employees left their job in 2021 is “the pay was too low.” To retain high-performing employees, employers consider adjusting the workforce salaries to be competitive based on the current job market trends.



3. Providing Meaningful Benefits and Perks


As important as compensation is, some employees would consider staying at a company with strong benefits. 88% of job seekers would consider better health, dental, and vision insurance benefits when choosing between a high-paying job and a lower-paying job with better perks. As a matter of fact, 79% of employees would prefer additional benefits over a salary increase.


Employers should consider providing supplemental benefits tailored to their organization’s workforce needs to make this an effective employee retention strategy.



4. Extending Flexible Work Options


Employers can retain employees by offering flexible work options. A 2022 FlexJobs survey found that 43% of employees (a 13% increase from 2019) quit due to lack of flexible work environments. 80% of employees also said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had work flexibility.



Companies should consider offering such flexible working arrangements for their workforce:

  • Flex Time: It provides flexibility regarding when an employee starts and ends work.

  • Flex Place: Allows employees to work remotely from home or another location.

  • Hybrid Work: Employees spend some days working remotely and other days in the office.

  • Compressed Workweek: This allows employees to work 40 hours in less than five days.



5. Empowering Professional and Personal Development


Another retention strategy is to develop professional and personal development for employees. Many employees who quit in 2021 cited “no opportunities for advancement” as one of the top reasons for leaving their job. Similarly, LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report found 94% of employees would stay with their company longer if it invested in their career development.


By providing opportunities for reskilling and upskilling, employers not only retain employees longer but maintain a highly effective workforce that is future-proof.




6. Allowing Work Variety


Employers should also consider providing different opportunities to work on exciting projects as a retention strategy. 41% of workers said they would forgo a promotion if they could have more variety in their day-to-day work.


The following are some tangible ways that companies have changed up the work variety to engage their employees with exciting projects:

  • Passion Projects: Allows employees to work on a creative side project during company time. Google does this by implementing the “20% rule,” which encourages employees to spend 20% of their time on what they think would most benefit the company. Companies can also incorporate internal hackathons that provide challenging projects for employees.

  • Organization-wide Project: Provides project opportunities that allow for greater collaboration. One example is American Heart Association which allows employees throughout the organization to participate in different projects. Other companies like BMW, Sephora, and Target have created internal think tanks or innovation centers to facilitate organizational collaboration.

  • Rotational Development Program: A temporary program, typically one to three years, that allows new graduates to train and participate in different rotating positions in various departments. Companies, such as Trimble, Disney, Citizens Bank, and AetnaHealth, have these programs to determine the best fit for each employee and develop future leaders.

By offering different project opportunities, employers can engage employees with work variety that improves employee experience and retention.



7. Encouraging Work-Life Balance


Another practical retention strategy is promoting a healthy work-life balance that would reduce employee burnout, which relates to why people quit their jobs. A 2022 FlexJobs survey shows 49% of employees leave their employment because of a lack of healthy work-life balance, which is close to the 42% of employees who quit because of burnout.


Work-life balance is a state of equilibrium in which a person equally prioritizes their time between their career and personal leisure, such as spending time with family and friends or pursuing interests and hobbies. When work demands take up a majority of employees’ time, they often feel they are unable to enjoy life, leading to lower job satisfaction and burnout.


Employers should seek to improve work-life balance by setting policies discouraging after-hour emails, reducing the number of meetings, or even encouraging employees to take paid time off.



8. Developing Workplace Community


Companies must also develop a strong workplace community that encourages workplace professional relationships to improve engagement and job satisfaction. Gallup’s 2022 survey shows those who had a best friend at work were 32% extremely satisfied with their workplace, while 49% were also less likely to leave their company.


Employers can provide opportunities that organically connect employees by creating Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) based on shared identities, such as race, gender, or culture. ERGs can help underrepresented groups connect on shared identities and foster a sense of belonging. In fact, according to a 2014 Software Advice survey. 50% of employees said they would remain at their companies due to the engagement and comraderies built within the ERGs.


Another way to foster employee connections is through mentoring programs. Employees with a mentor can more learn quickly on the job and are less likely to quit as they feel much more supported and connected. In Together’s 2019 case study of Randstad’s mentoring program, participating employees were 49% less likely to leave the company.



9. Training Effective, Empathetic Managers


Another important relationship that companies should be aware of is between their managers and employees. In fact, 82% of Americans would potentially quit their job because of a poor manager.


Therefore, employers should train managers in empathetic leadership. By learning empathy through active listening and open communication, managers can better understand the employee strengths and weaknesses and know how to empower them with personalized coaching.



A 2021 EY Consulting survey found that 90% of US workers believe empathetic leadership leads to increased job satisfaction and 79% agree it improves employee retention. Empathetic leadership provides additional benefits such as increased efficiency, creativity, innovation, and profitability.



10. Giving Meaningful, Constructive Feedback


Constructive performance feedback is another way to engage and retain employees. Providing meaningful feedback lets workers understand what they are doing well and how to improve, increasing employee engagement. A Gallup 2021 survey shows that 84% of employees who received meaningful feedback felt engaged.


Providing feedback is also a great way for employers to align with their employees by giving clarification, elaborating on directions, or providing context. With greater alignment, employees will have the clarity to perform better with stronger engagement.



11. Receiving and Implementing Employee Feedback


As important as it is to give feedback, employers should also request and try to implement employee feedback. One of the more difficult leadership tasks is actively listening to their employees. A 2021 Explorance Employee Feedback Survey conducted by Wakefield Research shows that 45% of all respondents and 40% of executives don’t believe the feedback they provide leads to any meaningful change in the workplace.


By implementing employee feedback, companies can show that their voices and opinions matter, encouraging employee engagement and retention.



12. Recognizing Employees, Genuinely


To retain employees, employers should continuously and organically acknowledge and recognize the employee’s work. A 2022 Gallup & Workhuman survey found that employees are 56% less likely to report looking for new opportunities when they feel recognized for their work. Employers can create a positive workplace culture and employee experience with an effective recognition program, which 68% of HR professionals agree is essential for retention.


Giving recognition is truly important because it gives due credit and recognizes employees for their work. It is just as important to understand an employee’s preference for receiving recognition, whether in a public or private setting.



Conclusion


Through these practical retention strategies, companies can develop a positive workplace culture that centers around the employee experience, which improves job satisfaction, employee retention, and even ultimate team performance.



Most importantly, these strategies ultimately empower employees. By providing the right opportunities, workplace culture, community, and resources, employers are developing empowered employees to be the best version of themselves.



Sources: HRCap, Gallup, SHRM, Brandon Hall Group, Pew Research Center, Frac.tl, Glassdoor, Flexjobs, LinkedIn Learning, HR Daily Advisor, HBR, Together, GoodHire, Explorance, Coursera, Ernst & Young, Forbes



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