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9 Proven Employee Retention Strategies

group of young employees

It is more cost-effective to retain good employees than it is to find new ones.

Employee retention is an increasing concern for employers faced with a competitive labor market.

Record low unemployment means everyone is struggling to hire.  Yet more than three-fourths of all employees who voluntarily leave their position could have been retained, according to a study by the Work Institute (PDF).

Being proactive about employee retention saves your company money and time. It makes your teams more efficient and improves company culture. It is also your best defense against those who may try to poach your talent.

Here are nine proven, cost-effective strategies that will boost employee retention at your company.

1. Ensure pay and benefits are competitive

This is a no-brainer, but as we all know: money talks. People are job-hopping for just a dollar or two more per hour. You risk unnecessary turnover by low-balling on pay.

It is always more cost-effective to retain an existing employee than it is to recruit, onboard, and train a new one. Estimates vary but losing an employee can cost 50-200% of the employee’s annual salary, depending on experience and specialization. Even at minimum wage, that could mean $10,000 to replace one person.

In Hawaii’s tight labor market, it’s essential that you ensure your pay and benefits are competitive. It’s the most obvious way to keep your best workers satisfied and prevent them from jumping ship.

Learn more: Is Paying Your Employees Less Costing You More? (Spoiler alert: Yes!)

2. Make onboarding a pleasure

Retention starts with an employee’s first in-depth interaction with your company. Fifty percent of all employee turnover happens in the first 90 days of employment, according to a report by the Work Institute. This is why the onboarding process, which may last for months, is key.

Employees who have a positive onboarding experience are 69% more likely to remain at a company for up to three years (Source).

Many companies simply don’t have a plan for employee onboarding, so start there. Structured onboarding helps new employees feel welcome and confident. They’re able to get oriented quickly and hit the ground running.

Learn more: New Hire Onboarding Guide: How to Retain and Engage

VIDEO: Learning Specialist Kendall Kiyohara shares his top tips for employee retention

3. Celebrate employee success

We all want to be appreciated. Too often, employees aren’t feeling the love from their employers. Lack of recognition continues to be one of the top reasons why employees quit. Gallup research even suggests that the more talented the employee, the faster they leave (Source).

Employee appreciation efforts can be one of your most cost-effective tools to build company culture and improve retention. And frankly, it’s no longer optional.

Learn more: 5 Cost-Effective Ways to Show Employee Appreciation

4. Check-in with employees regularly

As managers and as humans, we want to fix problems. And of course, there is a place for that. However, focusing on employee strengths—instead of always homing in on weaknesses—is a more effective way to drive performance, retention, and engagement.

One easy way to have positive, supporting conversations is through frequent check-ins with employees. Millennial employees, the majority of the workforce, are especially eager for face time with managers and feedback on their performance.

These check-ins should be casual in tone. Don’t shy away from discussions that are personal, but professional, in nature. Let the employee drive the conversation. Above all, focus on the things that they’ve completed and are proud of, not the things that they haven’t done.

By checking in with your employees for just a few minutes a day, managers can dramatically improve engagement and retention.

5. Be open to employee feedback

On the flip side of checking-in with employees: be open to feedback. This may be easier said than done.

Many employers conduct exit interviews that ask for feedback when an employee leaves. They may ask questions like, what was the best part of your job? What part of your role would you change? Unfortunately, by then it is too late to retain that person.

Don’t wait until your top talent is out the door! There are many methods for soliciting employee feedback—from automated pulse surveys to an old-fashioned suggestion box. A true open-door policy is a great place to start.

Another recent trend is employee stay interviews, or retention interviews, done with your best people while they are still employed. The goal is to find out what their motivations and pain points are so you can make changes that lessen the chance of them leaving in the first place. The feedback you gather can lead to improvements that boost job satisfaction and retention across the board.

Learn More: What is a Stay Interview and How Can it Improve Retention

6. Promote work-life balance

Work-life balance is an ongoing challenge. It means different things for different people and there is no one size fits all solution. For some, it means managing the relentless ping of after-hours emails. For others, it’s about flex time to handle family caregiving responsibilities.

If you understand your employees’ needs (because you touch base with them daily, right?) then you can help them avoid burnout. Be sure to ask them what they need. The answers might surprise you.

One big issue for American workers is not taking all the vacation time they’ve earned. Encourage your staff to use their vacation time! And don’t forget to lead by example.

7. Encourage a strong team culture

Every company has a culture whether it’s intentional or not. Culture doesn’t change overnight. But building a team culture is something you can quickly impact, and it starts at the beginning.

Make sure each new team member gets properly introduced, create opportunities to get to know people socially, and designate a team mentor as a go-to for issues.

No team can perform well with people coming and going. By making your company an attractive place to work (for example by following the tips in this article) you strengthen your workplace team culture and start racking up wins!

Learn More: 9 Ways to Have a Happier (and More Profitable) Workplace

8. Be a brand that makes employees proud

Values matter. As an island community, giving is in our cultural DNA, part of who we are and what we do. Make sure your company is part of that conversation.

Not only is it the right thing to do, but employees tend to stay with companies that create meaningful opportunities for giving and volunteerism. Everyone likes to see their employer doing good in the community. Not only will your team feel proud, but your recruiting efforts get a boost, too.

Learn More: 5 Ways to Promote a Culture of Giving

9. Offer employee growth opportunities

Lack of career growth is one of the top reasons employees leave companies, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report (Source). In fact, 94% of employees would stay longer at a company that provides career development and training opportunities!

Even if your company is on the smaller side and can’t offer the same mobility as larger corporations, there are still simple yet transformative ways you can promote employee growth without a corporate ladder.

Let us help you retain your best people

Here at simplicityHR, we offer world-class education and training seminars on over eighty different topics that affect local businesses in every industry! To see what we’re offering, download our HR & Saf Education Services Catalog today!

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