Building a Loyal Workforce: Essential Strategies for Retaining Employees and Fueling Your Company's Growth
Everyone loves a workplace where they feel secure, supported, and valued. It should be an area where they feel stimulated and challenged, but comfortable enough to explore new opportunities and possibilities to get their tasks done as effectively as possible.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the reality for many workplaces across the world. Too often, employers will find themselves having to interview a new batch of candidates to make up for their high levels of employee turnover, which can be demoralizing for the workers operating there, and costly for the company.
If you are concerned about your turnover rates, then here are 10 effective employee retention strategies you can implement into your business, starting today. Doing so will help you build a more loyal and engaged workforce, and you’ll be reaping the rewards of your decisions in no time.
Why Is Employee Retention Important?
Before you start acting on any of the strategies listed, it’s important to understand why you’re using them. Many companies, particularly those in the service industry such as McDonalds or Burger King have high turnover rates because:
- They are stressful, fast-paced environments
- Prior industry knowledge is not required, and training times are often quick and condensed
- The positions commonly available are perfect for first-time employees such as high school students and are commonly used as a temporary post to gain work experience before moving on to further education or better-paid jobs
- They are multi-billion dollar corporations that can afford to replace employees and train new hires quickly
However, this isn’t a sustainable or feasible practice for smaller corporations, or those operating in different industries where longevity and connection between employees, their customers, and their employers are essential components.
So, why else is it important to ensure your employees want to stay?
- Companies with a strong employee retention rate tend to outperform their competitors. This is because workers are more engaged and productive when they enjoy being at the place they work.
- High retention rates are indicative of a positive work environment; no one wants to willingly leave a place where they feel happy and supported unless there are severe extenuating circumstances.
- It can cost anywhere from 30% – 200% of a person’s salary to replace them. By prioritizing good retention, you are saving your company money in the long run.
- It can be very demoralizing to see co-workers come and go so quickly, as it doesn’t allow existing employees to develop a sense of community and comradery. When you get to know the people you work with, you build up a support network and can work more efficiently as a team.
- When you know that your team will be with you for a long time, you can invest more in them and their development. This gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and take on new roles, which will serve them personally and help you expand your business.
10 Useful Employee Retention Strategies
Now that you understand the importance of employee retention, let’s take a look at the strategies you can use to make sure you have the best chances possible of retaining your valuable employees. Remember, there will always be external considerations to consider as well, but doing what you can internally will never go unrecognized.
1. Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Sometimes, it can seem like our lives are dominated by work, day and night. This is especially true for people on zero-hours contracts, medical workers, or civil servants like police and firefighters who are constantly on call.
Doing what you can as an employer to promote a healthy work-life balance can make all the difference, and alleviate unnecessary stress your workers may be experiencing.
This can include:
- Not contacting employees after their set hours or on weekends
- Being mindful of their vacation times
- Providing dedicated spaces away from desks to relax and chat with colleagues whilst on their breaks
Encouraging workers to prioritize this balance will not only improve their mental health, but it will reduce feelings of burnout. In turn, this will reduce any potential absenteeism that may come from the negative physical side effects of stress such as a weakened immune system and high blood pressure.
2. Be Flexible
Flexibility ties in heavily with promoting a strong work-life balance. No two employees will be the same, so it’s important to consider individual differences that will allow them to work most effectively.
Hybrid and remote working opportunities are a major contributing factor in job satisfaction. 81% of employees surveyed commented that flexible schedules were an important consideration for them. Moreover, it shows that you trust your employees to be sensible and manage their own time, which grants them a greater sense of autonomy and respect.
Parents who have to conduct school runs, carers looking after elderly relatives, or people who may have more than one job or might be completing night school all need the right environment to thrive in. A rigid 9-5 work schedule doesn’t suit everyone’s style, and it may actually be hindering your company more than you think.
This is particularly true in a post-pandemic era, where it was proven that companies that changed with the times continued growing, even though their employees worked from home.
3. Make Opportunities for Personal and Professional Development
Without the opportunity to develop their skills, it’s easy for your employees to become demotivated and stagnant in their work. Whilst specializing in a certain area is useful, variety will keep your workers engaged for longer and will help build towards both personal and professional development in later life.
Offering courses and educational opportunities helps to upskill your employees and turn them into top talent that not only helps your company but also opens up more career development opportunities should they decide to move on.
Optional courses that are subsidized by your company, or even just a greater bit of flexibility if one of your current employees is pursuing personal goals are great initiatives to stay with you for longer.
4. Perfect Your Onboarding Process
First impressions count. When starting a new job, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, no matter your level of proficiency. By perfecting your onboarding process, you help new team members to feel welcome and secure in their new role.
Offering a mentorship program is an excellent way to introduce new employees to their colleagues and give them a sounding board for any concerns. It also helps teach them about the company culture, which is an essential consideration during a probationary period. Unfortunately, according to research done in 2018 by Robert Half, up to 93% of new hires are still open to the idea of leaving a company within the first six months of employment.
It is crucial that you solidify an employee’s place within a company during these first few tentative months to give yourself the best possible chance of retaining them after their probation is complete.
5. Offer Competitive Compensation
Compensation doesn’t just refer to monetary benefits, but that won’t go unappreciated, either. But also take the time to offer additional perks such as:
- Time off
- Tickets to local events
- Coupons or discounts for local restaurants
- Private health care/insurance, such as eye and dental care
- Retirement plans
If you have an employee who has been head-hunted and offered a greater selection of benefits by another company, they may feel inclined to take the offer if they aren’t receiving enough from you. There’s always more nuance to it, but taking the time to evaluate just how much more you’re giving your workers could be a key contributing factor to boosting levels of retention.
6. Appreciate and Reward Employees
Recognition is a huge factor when it comes to boosting employee satisfaction. If people feel like their hard work has gone unappreciated, they will be very demotivated and less inclined to participate or go the extra mile.
Frequent recognition and appreciation for the work your team puts in will keep on encouraging employees to do their best. Here are a few examples to help you vocalize your appreciation:
- Offer rewards to top performers, which could be in the form of time off, presents, or financial benefits.
- Make sure to keep up a positive mental attitude in the workplace. Briefly saying “well done” or “keep up the good work” is a quick and easy thing to do, and can go a long way to boost employee morale.
- Organize fun events. This not only offers an entertaining break from the norm, but can also act as team building in disguise.
- Showcase your employees online on your social media, or in a dedicated space on your website.
7. Make Time To Listen
Listening to your employees and acting on the feedback they provide promotes positive change. To develop the best employee experience possible, you need to listen to the people it is designed for. Here are several ways you can effectively listen and take action.
- Pulse surveys. Pulse surveys are an effective way to conduct sentiment analysis and build a general sense of how your employees feel about you as an employer, or about your company as a whole.
- Exit interviews. Ultimately, you’ll have to say goodbye to several employees during your tenure as manager. But use these opportunities to listen and learn. Conducting exit interviews allows those who are leaving to be honest with their reasons for going elsewhere, and will hopefully work to reduce your employee turnover rate moving forward.
- Stay interviews. Conversely, you could conduct ‘Stay’ interviews, which gives you the opportunity to take on feedback before it’s too late. During these interviews, you can ask questions about how things have changed in your workplace over a set period of time, and can look forward to understand how to make better choices in the future.
8. Provide Frequent Performance Reviews
When employees don’t know how well they’re doing, it’s easy for their work to slip in quality. If this continues for a while, then feedback may not be given until it’s too late, and they’re left wondering where they went wrong, since nothing was said about it earlier.
This can be mitigated via frequent performance reviews which help with employee engagement as they will always know what to do next and how to keep on improving. A brief chat with human resource management every annual quarter isn’t going to cut it. You need to be interacting with your employees on a weekly or fortnightly basis.
During these talks (which don’t have to take more than a few minutes due to the frequency of them) you can discuss:
- Work performance
- Plans for the future
- Any developments that could impact an employee’s work
- Their well-being
9. Build an Excellent Workplace Culture
Building a strong, supportive workplace culture means that every day in the office will feel like a day spent with friends. Make sure that your company is a place where people can feel fulfilled.
Company culture can shape employee motivation in many ways, so make sure that you’re doing what you can to weave the core values of your company into its culture, and help everyone embrace these ideas.
It’s useful to understand which culture type your workplace falls into so you know how best to change it constructively. The main types of culture are:
Sometimes, people just don’t work well in one particular culture. If an employee is more creative, then a clan culture would be better for them than a hierarchy. So, if you advertise your business as being one culture, but in practice it is another, you’ll probably find that you have quite a high turnover.
You then need to think about the practices you operate under within that culture. For example, are you doing what you can to promote better DEIB initiatives? Having a range of different ideas encourages people to think more broadly and undercover new ways to go about a task. Also, workplaces who put DEIB at their core tend to have a more welcoming and inclusive workforce, and a lower turnover.
10. Encourage Mutual Respect
Feeling valued and respected is quoted as being the single leading factor contributing to workplace satisfaction. When you lead with respect, others will do the same.
78% of employees say they simply want to feel valued and respected by those they work with. This encompasses respect towards the people as individuals, their ideas, and their personal goals. It’s a level of fulfillment that everyone wants to have, and it all works towards making your company a far more enjoyable place to be a part of.
As an employer, you have the potential to make an enormous impact on your employees – both positively and negatively. Even if employees aren’t comfortable saying it to your face in exit interviews, you may find anonymous reviews on sites such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn. To make sure you’re not on the receiving end of disparaging remarks, keep these points in mind:
- Avoid micromanaging, and instead build relationships based on trust
- Understand your team and each of their personal circumstances
- Be prepared for difficult conversations and negative feedback
- Constantly work to improve your leadership skills
Having to say goodbye to employees is never easy, especially if they are excellent workers or have made a strong place for themselves as part of your team. Sometimes, it can’t be avoided. But in cases where you find yourself facing continuous levels of employee turnover, it’s time to step in and take action.
By taking the time to listen to your employees, work on your company culture, and perpetuate mutual feelings of respect, you’ll find those rates dropping in no time.
Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, Most Loved Workplace, and Results-Based Culture. Author of In Great Company, Change Champions Field Guide, and Best Practices in Talent Management, as well as a series of Leadership Development books. He is a trusted strategic advisor and coach to CEOs, CHROs, and leaders of mid-sized to F500 companies – enabling change and steering employer brand development together with highly effective teams, leaders, and organizations as a whole.