7 ways to retain employees

Compensation, flexibility, professional development among top ways employees to stop people walking out the door

7 ways to retain employees

Employee turnover can be expensive — hiring and training a new hire can cost upwards of 20 per cent of the employee’s salary, according to a study by the Center for American Progress that analyzed 30 case studies in the U.S. between 1992 and 2007.

With that kind of money in play, implementing employee retention strategies isn’t just a way to be a top employer, it also makes business sense.

Provide competitive salary and benefits

Money is the most likely reason for people to leave their employment, with two-thirds of respondents naming it as a reason to quit their job, according to a survey of 2,000 U.S. workers by career search website Zippia.com. It’s the most important element of work for many people, for two big reasons — people work to support themselves and their family, and compensation can make employees feel appreciated and valued for doing a good job. Someone who feels that they are underpaid is going to keep their eye out for more lucrative opportunities.

Benefits can be even more important than salary to some employees, especially if their priorities change as they move through different stages of life. Employees want to ensure that their families are taken care of. Flexible benefits can offer plans customized to employee needs can make them feel more secure and taken care of — and less likely to want to leave.

Encourage a healthy work environment

A toxic work environment is bad for everyone — it cultivates negativity, workplace conflict, absenteeism and poor productivity. It can also lead to legal liability for harassment, discrimination and workplace violence — all things that are scrutinized in the modern workplace. Employees who leave because of an unhealthy work environment may also spread the word, driving away top talent.

More than one-half of respondents in a FlexJobs survey of 1,500 U.S. workers listed flexibility in their workday as a way that employers can support employees, with more than four in 10 citing encouragement to take time off and mental health days. Work-life balance is a priority for many workers, especially younger ones, as a way to promote good mental and physical health. Stress and excessive workload negatively affect health and increases burnout. Again, the result can be more absenteeism, lower productivity, and unhappy employees — and unhappy employees don’t want to stay.

Six out of 10 respondents in the Zippia.com survey named bad or unsupportive bosses as a reason for quitting. Just as good hiring of employees for the right fit is important, appointing people who possess good management skills will trickle down through the team. Finding managers with soft skills or training them on skills such crisis management, conflict management and stress management can go a long way to fostering a happy and healthy work environment.

Employee experience is the top consideration in engagement and retention, say talent professionals.

Have transparency in hiring

If job candidates are fully aware of the expectations and duties associated with the job, then both parties will be better able to determine the fit. Employees who fit well with the job responsibilities and the organization’s culture are more likely to stay longer.

A bad fit usually leads to either a firing or a resignation, which starts the costly hiring process all over again.

One half of U.S. jobseekers say that they have turned down a job offer from a company because of poor recruiting experiences.

Conduct annual performance reviews

Regular feedback on an employee’s performance can keep them engaged and productive. Regular check-ins between leaders and team members keep them all on the same page regarding organizational and personal goals, employee development, engagement, and any concerns.

Employees who are allowed to have input are those who want to contribute and be part of the success of an organization.

Provide opportunities for growth

One-third of employees pursuing professional development are doing so mainly through programs offered by their employer, according to Ceridian’s 2021 Pulse of Talent report that included a survey of 5,010 adults across Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. However, the rest are learning independently and from sources such as formal education and trade schools.

Good talent generally wants to continue with their professional development, so they want investment in their skills and career path. Opportunities for upskilling and training within the organization can help with engagement and benefit the employer with better-skilled workers.

Training programs can also help employers identify potential leaders and others for specific paths within the organization. Webinars, seminars, online modules, in-class training, workshops, mentoring, shadowing, and prioritizing internal candidates for job openings can convey to employees that an organization is serious about investing in its talent. With more opportunities within an organization, employees will be less inclined to steer their career on a path that leads outside the organization.

Canadian business leaders believe that investing in an employee professional development strategy will attract and retain the best talent.

Offer flexibility

More than four in 10 workers want more flexible working hours that suit their lifestyle and home priorities, found a survey of 7,500 office workers in seven countries — including 1,000 in Canada — by workplace technology company Citrix.

The combination of increased priority on work-life balance by younger workers and the development of technology that connects people in far-flung locations has spurred the rise of flexwork and telecommuting, and an organization’s flexibility around work scheduling and location has become a significant consideration in recruiting and retention — 40 per cent of respondents in the Ceridian study said that they either would not or weren’t sure if they would want to work for a company with no remote work flexibility.

Employee recognition and appreciation

An employee recognition program that publicizes employees doing a great job can inspire and motivate them for the next project and set an example. Rewards such as gift cards, permission to work from home, longer lunches, and bonus time off are all perks that can increase loyalty and make employees feel wanted.

Employers can also implement activities that foster company culture such as team lunches, potlucks, competitions, and teambuilding exercises that build relationships among co-workers and increase the connection to the organization.

Employees may also be less inclined to leave if their employer publicly recognizes and rewards service time. For example, if employees receive more vacation leave, loyalty days off, or small gifts for a particular year of service, it gives them something for which to strive and a reason to accumulate service time.

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