More than 50 million workers left their jobs voluntarily in 2022.
But it’s not just a competitive job market driving that trend. Since 2010, workers have been leaving their jobs for one reason: their careers. They’re simply not satisfied with the lack of opportunities for professional development.
Meanwhile, we know that persistent turnover — the kind we’ve seen during and after The Great Resignation — limits productivity, increases recruiting costs, leads to knowledge loss, harms company culture, and lowers employee engagement.
To grow the business and keep the organization thriving, companies need robust and effective employee retention strategies. These 10 strategies will show you the way for 2023 and beyond.
What is an employee retention program?
An employee retention program is the process and strategies that a company develops to retain top talent. These programs aim to mitigate turnover risks, a leading challenge for HR teams worldwide.
Every employee represents an investment of time and money for a company. When companies hire and train employees, they dig into their profit margin.
Why you need a retention program
Employees are in the driver’s seat when it comes to retention. According to Work Institute’s 2023 Retention Report, workers had their pick of jobs — at the start of 2023, there were 200 openings for every unemployed worker.
That’s a lot of choices. So, to get your employees to stick it out at your company, you’ve got to go beyond the bare minimum and start wowing them.
Of course, inflation alone may not convince C-suite to approve a payroll increase. But employee turnover affects revenue as well. In fact, high turnover can lead to a host of problems, including:
- Increased recruitment costs — You’ll waste time and money on job advertising, writing job descriptions, interviewing, and training.
- Loss of organizational knowledge — You’ll lose top talent and valuable knowledge and experience from the organization. This could lead to a shortage of talent and skills.
- Productivity drain — You’ll have to invest a considerable amount of time into training new hires and cultivating their skills to boost performance. Lost productivity costs organizations $1.8 trillion each year.
- Poor company culture — High turnover puts the company in a bad light, convincing others that it's not a good place to work. High turnover implies lower employee satisfaction.
Why your churn may be high
High turnover rates are likely a sign that current employees are dissatisfied with a company. Low engagement and low morale may be due to factors within your control or something you can’t change. For instance, you can work on your company culture (internal factor), but there’s not much you can do about inflation (external factor).
Regardless, identifying these causes may help you address them.
Internal factors affecting churn
- Unfair compensation — Employees who feel underpaid for their work look for better prospects in other organizations.
- Burnout — What started as a meaningful job may feel overwhelming later. They may be asked to take on too much or asked to do tasks they’re not trained to do.
- Career opportunities — Your employees may feel there aren’t enough internal opportunities for them. This can include a promotion or pay raise, wanting a mentor or sponsor or even flexible work arrangements.
- Boredom — The job may have started as an exciting opportunity but feels less uninspiring day by day. A lack of engagement can also diminish an employee's passion and enthusiasm — and it costs companies $550 billion annually.
- Conflict with coworkers — When employees don’t have mutual respect with managers or peers, it can adversely affect their productivity and make them leave.
External factors affecting churn
- Career change — Employees may feel that their jobs no longer align with their career goals or may want a career change.
- Economic trends — Recessions can cause revenues, income, and GDP to decline, resulting in lower pay, frozen bonuses, etc. Inflation makes salaries worth less.
- Personal obligations — Family illness, a partner getting a job transfer, caregiving, or other personal life challenges may cause an employee to quit.
- Poor culture fit — If an employee feels they do not sync with the company's mission statement, goals, and culture. They may stand at odds with the managers, trying to fit in an environment they cannot adjust to.
10 strategies to retain your top employees
With signs the job market is cooling slightly, there are still more jobs than workers. The good news is, you have a workforce that is looking for stability and may be looking for a reason to stay. More than a third of unemployed workers have been out of work for more than 3.5 months.
So what can you do? We’ve compiled a list of 10 strategies that will help you retain more of your team — in 2023 and beyond.
1. Pay competitive rates
Let’s start with the obvious. If you want to keep your best employees, you have to offer competitive compensation.
It will come as no surprise that pay remains a top factor in employee churn, and other employers are more than happy to scoop up your top talent.
Of course, inflation is a big reason salaries are a top concern. The cost of living has gone up in the last two years, so if your company hasn’t given a cost of living increase in the last year, your employees are making less now than they were before.
If you’re not able to affect salaries directly, there are still things you can do, though.
Start including salary ranges in job descriptions. While this strategy may sound like more of a recruitment tool than a retention strategy, pay transparency shows existing employees that you’re paying them fairly.
Plus salary disclosure is just good practice. Eight states already require employers to share salary ranges for job openings, with 15 more considering similar laws.
Already posting salaries in your job postings? Take a look at the range. It should be an accurate reflection of your budget for that specific role. If it’s too large it might be time for a to take a look at pay equity in your company.
2. Create career advancement opportunities
Nearly every jobs-based report for 2023 agreed on one thing: workers will leave their jobs for better opportunities. It doesn’t matter if advancement comes in the form of a higher salary, a promotion, or a more appealing work-life balance, employees are craving it.
But when employees see opportunities to grow internally, they won’t look externally. LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report revealed that 75% of employees who have made an internal move after two years are more likely to stay with the company. Meanwhile, just 15% of workers said their employer encouraged them to take on a new role. And they’re not learning new skills either. Just over one-quarter said they were encouraged to learn a new skill.
Companies can increase job satisfaction by providing more challenging learning opportunities and upward mobility within the organization. As a start, LinkedIn’s experts suggest having career discussions with employees and formalizing it as part of your L&D program.
From there, employees can explore potential new paths within the company in a variety of ways. Job shadowing, for example, gives employees an introduction to another team member’s role that they may be interested in pursuing.
We recommend a mentoring program with Together. Contact us for a demo.
3. Create a people-first workplace
In a people-first company, an organization prioritizes the people that support the business, its growth, and its revenue. It’s important to note that the umbrella term “people” refers not just to employees, but also customers and the community at large.
Also, this strategy requires a shift in company perspective. Instead of asking, "How do we succeed?" a people-first company asks, "How can our people benefit more?"
And there’s evidence to show that now is the prime time to implement this change. Executives around the world want to focus on people. 82% of leaders told LinkedIn that HR strategies are crucial for success.
You can inspire your C-suite with one or two simple programs. First, look to the employees that impact the most people: managers.
Quantum Workplace has a great video on how to empower your managers to be better leaders. Tips include creating an open dialogue with team members and recognizing employees in meaningful ways.
4. Make meaningful connections at work
Part of a people-first culture is the quality of relationships between those people. But you have to go beyond happy hours and birthday parties. For true success, cross-functional collaboration (aka teamwork) must be baked into your company culture. And that requires a solid foundation.
In fact, one study concluded that quality relationships are a cornerstone of successful collaboration. The stronger those connections are, the more likely those team members are to share their knowledge. It’s like an infinite loop of collaboration.
Executives and HR departments can play an active role by fostering healthier connections between workers and team members.
5. Recognize and appreciate hard work
When organizations fail to acknowledge the vital contributions of employees, they cause them to get discouraged, which can be the precursor to quitting. Managers can increase the commitment and dedication of employees with timely recognition and appreciation of their hard work.
Even if monetary bonuses are not possible for every good performance, companies can find other forms of employee recognition. Everything from simple shout-outs to stretch assignments can motivate employees and keep them from jumping ship to the competition.
Employee spotlights are one specific way that managers can recognize employees. You can include them in a company newsletter, announce at an all-hands meeting, or post on the employee intranet or social media. By publicly acknowledging the great work of team members, those employees feel valued, motivated, and more devoted to the organization’s success.
6. Set up mentorship and training programs
Mentorship is an effective way to train new employees while also making tenured ones feel empowered to share their knowledge and skills with someone new.
Jennifer Petrela, a mentoring expert at Mentorship Quebec says more companies are using mentorship as a recruiting tactic because younger workers are aware of the power of mentorship programs.
A mentoring program is essential for new workers who want a leg up in their career. Formalizing your mentorship program will take the strain off your employees who chose to become mentors by giving them a framework and guidance for guiding their mentee.
For tenured employees looking to advance, consider upskilling programs, refresher training or executive sponsorships.
7. Encourage a healthy work-life balance
Overworked employees fail to be productive at a point. When their bodies and minds have worn out, they can fall prey to stress and subsequent sicknesses. They may quit because the work has become over-demanding, and they find no time for personal lives.
Nearly half of Gen Zs and Millennials say they’re burned out due to pressures at work, according to a report from Deloitte. What’s more, one-third of workers say they’re exhausted or checked out at work, while around 40% struggle to do their best work.
Benefits like flexible work schedules, wellness stipends, and high potential leadership programs can go a long way in keeping your employees productive and feeling balanced. In fact, SHRM found in a survey that the number one reason people sought flexible work was to achieve work-life balance.
Learn more: 10 ways leaders can promote workplace wellbeing.
8. Offer flexible work arrangements
Most companies looking to offer flexibility to their employees opt for hybrid workplaces, and Deloitte’s research shows that a good chunk of workers agree. But flexible work doesn’t always apply to the location where you’re working.
Research suggests that what workers really want is options. So if you can’t offer remote work, consider flexible working hours, coworking spaces (and quiet spaces), or shortened work weeks.
9. Provide personalized employee support
Employees want career development and personalized support. A few of the strategies we’ve already covered prove this. Managerial and HR teams can do more to ensure that everyone feels appreciated, and supported in the company. At the same time, company heads must refrain from being too hard on workers who lag in performance. Yes, productivity matters, but not at the cost of employee morale. A lack of that will just hurt productivity more and increase turnover in the long run.
Individualized counselling sessions can ensure every employee feels uplifted. This can be part of your mentoring program or regular 1:1 meetings. The point is to give employees an opportunity to offer feedback and receive guidance on their work performance, career path, and overall goals.
10. Learn from the past
Many companies have adopted exit interviews to understand why employees resign. This helps them uncover the roots of any turnover issues, and more importantly, cut off high turnover before it starts.
Exit interviews offer your team loads of data that can help you find the leading causes for resignation, but only if you do something with it. Ideally, you’re using that information to improve the company's workflow, benefits, compensation structure, and work-life balance.
You might choose to compile a quarterly or annual report that highlights any insights or trends. As with payscales, transparency is key. So while you write the report to present to your higher-ups, it’s a great idea to publish it internally as well. This will go a long way in making employees feel heard.
But the biggest reason is these insights will help you craft more effective retention strategies in the future.
Invest in a mentoring program to keep employees engaged
No matter how you slice it, turnover is a drain on company resources. A mentoring program pays dividends faster and longer than any of the other strategies we’ve listed here. Why? Because they help to solve all the top reasons for high churn and help you retain your top talent.
Mentorships not only give your employees the guidance they need to succeed, they also have a positive impact on salaries, promotions, employee engagement, and company culture.
Mentorship and sponsorship programs also give your managers and senior team members a reason to stay. Serving as an advisor to a junior employee grows leadership skills and creates a culture of shared learning.