In a 2023 report, 61% of HR professionals agreed that retention is more important than talent acquisition when it comes to resource allocation and priorities. In fact, recruiting has plunged from HR’s No. 2 priority to No. 8 this year, and retention has climbed the ranks because companies are facing an annual employee turnover rate of 24.7%.
To put it simply, nearly a quarter of your team could be plotting their exit as you read this, and you cannot simply replace them.
So how can you keep them from leaving?
Let’s find out.
10 ways to keep employees from leaving
In the past, employees used to quit for better compensation and benefits. Today, people quit to achieve better work-life balance, improved workplace dynamics, and career advancement opportunities.
To improve employee retention, it is important to first understand the key drivers of attrition and then develop strategies around them.
If your employees are leaving because their work is not meaningful, interesting, and challenging, offer them opportunities to learn new things at work.
If they are planning to quit because they do not feel supported by their coworkers, find ways to improve employee connections.
Take time to understand what your employees are running from, and what they might gravitate to. Here are 10 ways to help you get started.
1. Show heartfelt appreciation
When employees know their efforts are valued, they are more likely to stay with you. According to a recent survey by Bonusly, 46% of workers left a job because they felt underappreciated. 65% agreed that they would work harder if they felt appreciated.
Make your employees feel valued by saying ‘thank you’ often. Particularly when your team is working on a project that requires them to go the extra mile. In such instances, the manager can spend time with each team member to explain why they are appreciated and how their efforts make a difference. This can really boost their morale and make them more enthusiastic about their work. Try some of the following ways to appreciate your employees:
- Recognition programs — Implement formal recognition programs that celebrate outstanding performance, such as "Employee of the Month" awards or peer-nominated recognition. Provide tangible rewards or certificates to acknowledge their efforts.
- Feedback and appreciation training — Train managers and team leaders to provide regular, constructive feedback and appreciation to their team members. Encourage a culture of open communication and gratitude through public praise in company channels, weekly or monthly email updates.
- Employee appreciation events — Organize regular events that bring employees together to celebrate achievements and milestones. These can include team lunches, appreciation days, or company-wide gatherings.
- Personalized thank you notes — Encourage managers and colleagues to write personalized thank-you notes or emails to express gratitude for specific contributions or efforts.
- Professional development opportunities — Show appreciation by investing in employees' growth and development. Offer opportunities for skill-building, training, or career advancement, demonstrating a commitment to their long-term success.
Different people have different preferences when it comes to being appreciated, so conduct a survey and find out what your team prefers.
2. Prioritize your team’s mental health
Poor mental well-being of employees can lead to productivity loss, employee burnout, and turnover. Offering mental health benefits, such as time off, remote work arrangements, stress management programs, and counseling services not only helps create a workforce that is healthy and motivated but is also likely to stick around and drive the organization’s success.
This is not only a matter of being considerate; it’s a strategic imperative as 81% of individuals prefer to work for employers that offer mental health benefits, according to an American Psychological Association survey. So, offer employees an opportunity to unplug and re-energize to create a cycle of retention and growth.
3. Maintain open and transparent communication
Effective communication can have a big impact on keeping employees happy and staying with the company. In fact, organizations with an effective internal communication process experience 4.5x higher employee retention rates than ones that lack effective communication.
So, take measures to improve communication up and down the hierarchy. Open doors and attitudes are simply too passive for the modern employee, and may not be enough to make them speak up. Instead, make feedback a regular, more casual exchange. Ask for employee input frequently and hold the conversations face-to-face (instead of through anonymous surveys) to make idea-sharing more natural and less ominous.
4. Offer plentiful growth opportunities
Investing in the professional development of employees not only keeps employees engaged, it is also good for business. According to Deloitte, companies with a strong learning culture are 52% more productive and 17% more profitable than their peers. They also experience 30-50% higher employee engagement and retention rates.
As a manager, building opportunities for your team’s growth should be a top priority. Invest your time in designing onboarding and transition management programs, develop a culture of support and learning, and let people take on challenging assignments.
5. Foster a humane, inclusive workplace
When companies welcome people from all backgrounds and treat them with kindness and fairness, it makes employees feel valued. This feeling of belonging and respect can make them want to stay and work together for organizational success.
But how do organizations become more inclusive? This requires support from all levels of management. All organizational leaders should strive to overcome unconscious biases, arrange open forums for discussions, and most importantly, promote people with inclusive values and varied backgrounds to key positions.
6. Embrace flexibility
The COVID-19 pandemic made employees rethink the true meaning of work. People used to a 40-hour workweek, with a couple of hours of commute every day, are now demanding flexible work arrangements from employers. More than two-thirds of employees today want flexible remote work options to stay with a company. And it’s only to the benefit of employers to meet this expectation as it helps keep employees motivated, productive, and loyal to the organization.
Consider giving more leeway not only in terms of ‘where’ employees work from but also in terms of scheduling and the total number of hours worked.
Compressed work weeks, remote work arrangements, flex time with core hours, and telecommuting are some of the flexibility benefits that you can offer to your team.
7. Offer employees what they’re worth
While compensation is not the sole driver of employee turnover, it is still a key reason why employees leave organizations. According to a survey by Lattice, 55% of employees switch jobs for higher compensation.
Offering a market-competitive base pay is not enough if you want to offer a desirable compensation package to your employees. Instead, pay employees what they are worth. Consider their skills and contributions to the team and make sure that the paycheck reflects their efforts.
8. Make them feel supported through mentorship
Imagine starting a new job and feeling a bit lost. Now picture having someone there who’s been through it all, willing to show you the way. That’s what mentorship is all about.
Having a mentorship program in place supports employee onboarding and fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty to the company among employees. This, in turn, helps newcomers grow and succeed and makes them want to stick around and contribute their best to the organization.
9. Offer innovation time off
With real-world deadlines looming very close, it can be really difficult for employees to shift focus from day-to-day work and take up something amorphous. This leads to stagnation, making employees feel disgruntled about their roles.
Innovation time off, also known as ITO for short, is like a creative breather that can keep work lives thrilling. By allowing employees to spend a few hours a week or a dedicated day each month on exciting, innovative projects, you can help prevent burnout and let employees explore their passions.
10. Give reverse mentoring a try
Gen Z and millennials make up around 38% of the global workforce, and this number will increase to 58% by 2030. This breed of highly mobile and technologically adept employees possesses a different set of qualities, attributes, and expectations, and acknowledging them is essential to sustaining high employee retention rates in the long run.
Reverse mentorship programs are an innovative and highly effective way to provide young employees with the transparency and recognition they seek from management. It also helps get rid of the disconnect between the different generations of employees, offers leaders a fresh perspective on their business, and facilitates the transfer of digital skills.
Why is employee retention important?
Employee retention isn't just a buzzword; it's a strategic move that pays dividends over time by keeping recruitment and training costs in check, fostering a positive work culture, and boosting employees’ morale.
Let’s delve into 3 compelling reasons why making retention a priority is a game-changer for companies of all sizes.
Keep recruitment costs low
High turnover can hit your organization where it hurts the most: your finances. It costs organizations $4,700 on average to hire one new employee. So when you have to hire multiple new employees every quarter, the costs add up.
When employees frequently come and go, recruitment costs skyrocket. You've got to spend money on job ads, interviews, background checks, and more. But it doesn't stop there.
Training new hires to get up to speed costs time and resources, draining productivity. Therefore, investing time and energy in improving employee retention is essential to keep your business profitable.
Consider Costco. The company has a turnover rate of 13% in an industry where its peers experience a turnover of 20% or higher. Because its employees stay for longer periods, Costco spends less on constantly hiring and training new workers. This helps the company keep costs in check and invest in other areas of the business.
Prevent operational disruptions
High turnover disrupts operations, causes workflow hiccups, and can lead to costly mistakes. As a result, productivity takes a hit, and teams may struggle to meet deadlines.
A few years ago, Zach Snyder had to step away from the Justice League movie and Joss Whedon came in to finish it. The final product neither had Whedon’s signature comedic style nor Snyder’s darkness. That’s what happens to most projects at work when the people working on them leave and other people finish them.
When employees leave, their institutional knowledge leaves with them. Experienced employees understand the company’s processes, history, and unique challenges. Losing this knowledge through frequent turnover can be detrimental. Retaining employees ensures that this valuable knowledge remains within the organization and is transferred to new employees.
Cultivate a sense of belonging
High turnover sends a clear message to your team: "People don't stick around here." This erodes trust and creates a sense of instability. When employees see their colleagues leaving frequently, it can leave them feeling disheartened, as if there's something wrong with the workplace.
On the flip side, when you prioritize employee retention, you cultivate a sense of belonging and loyalty. Employees are more likely to engage with their work, collaborate effectively, and go the extra mile.
Retain valuable employees and prevent turnover with Together
As businesses grapple with the fallout of the Great Resignation, it has become more important than ever for business leaders and HR professionals to understand what makes employees stay with an organization. Once they have that understanding, it’s crucial to act thoughtfully and develop strategies that can help attract, build, and retain talent in the long run.
Mentorship is an effective employee retention strategy that not only helps lower employee turnover but also contributes to skill development and organizational knowledge preservation. It also helps bridge the communication gap between managers and employees, improves workplace dynamics, and cultivates a culture of support.
Together is a mentoring software that helps businesses offer their employees easy access to growth and learning opportunities. Leveraging a smart pairing algorithm, frictionless enrollment process, and complete insights into the performance of mentoring programs, Together helps you shift your focus from administrative tasks to skill development and learning so that your top talent stays at your company.