It's no secret – a record number of employees left their jobs in 2021, a shift so drastic, it has been dubbed The Great Resignation. This mass exodus has forced HR professionals to take a closer look at employee retention and what steps they can take to reduce turnover and retain their most prized asset – their people.
The following 25-point checklist outlines ways to help reduce turnover and promote a more positive work environment for your team members. Be sure to download our Employee Retention Workbook so you can apply these strategies to your organization.
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1. Recruit & Hire the Right Talent
Believe it or not, employee retention starts before a candidate is even hired. Recruiting and hiring the right talent in the first place is a crucial step for improving retention rates.
By adding employees to your team who meet necessary job qualifications and who are a good fit for your culture, you increase the likelihood that they'll have a longer tenure with your organization.
Hiring the right talent starts with accurate job descriptions, effective recruitment techniques to attract suitable candidates, consistent hiring criteria, proper employment screening to verify qualifications, and a seamless candidate experience.
By investing your time and energy into hiring the right candidate in the first place, you ensure that your organization finds employees who genuinely fit with its mission, vision, values, and culture.
2. Implement an Effective Onboarding Program
According to research by Glassdoor, a robust onboarding process can improve an organization's new employee retention by a massive 82%. On the contrary, organizations with a poor onboarding experience are significantly more likely to lose employees within the first year of employment.
If you don't have a formal onboarding program in place, your first order of business after reading this checklist should be to implement one. An effective onboarding program will help new employees feel welcome and supported from the moment they walk in the door.
If you already have an onboarding or orientation process in place, consider revisiting it to look for areas of improvement. Many employers only view onboarding as the first week or first month of employment. When employers look at onboarding from a big picture perspective, it becomes evident that an extended onboarding period with adequate support, mentorship, and team-building will result in the improved retention of new hires, greater productivity, and a more positive work environment.
Lastly, take the time to gather feedback from new hires about your onboarding experience. They may offer some valuable insight into areas for improvement or ideas to help make other new hires feel welcome.
3. Encourage Continuous Training & Development
An effective strategy to help retain and improve the quality of your workforce is to invest in continuous training and development for your employees.
Offering your employees opportunities to acquire new skills can help them feel like they are advancing professionally and prepare them for new responsibilities and cross-training. This can help alleviate staffing issues such as employee absences, overtime, and turnover.
Furthermore, you benefit from a more educated and skilled team, making it easier to promote from within (rather than looking outside your organization).
4. Provide Convenient Communication Channels
Employees should always know what's happening inside and outside their departments, so communication channels must be as open and transparent as possible.
E-mail newsletters, monthly meetings, video conferencing, etc., are all great ways to keep everyone up to date without overwhelming them with information overload.
Business productivity and team collaboration platforms, such as Slack, can also streamline communication and provide employees with access to the information and contact they need throughout their workday.
5. Leverage Mentorship Programs
Sometimes employees need more guidance than what they can get simply from their manager. Providing your new team members with a mentor or peer buddy who is further along in the organization can significantly increase retention rates over time.
There are a few reasons why mentorship improves the onboarding process. First, new hires gain access to their mentors' wealth of knowledge and experience. They can ask for advice on specific challenges they're facing or simply gain a better understanding of how the company works.
Second, mentorship establishes a sense of community and connection in the workplace. New employees who feel like they belong are more likely to stay with the company long-term.
Finally, mentorship can help employees develop their skills and grow their careers. Mentors can provide feedback and guidance on professional goals, allowing your new hires to reach their full potential.
Overall, mentorship programs offer many advantages for both new employees and mentors. If you're looking for a way to improve your onboarding process and boost employee retention, consider starting a mentorship program for your organization.
6. Focus on Culture & Team Building Activities
When it comes to employee retention, corporate culture and team-building activities are incredibly important. A strong corporate culture can keep employees engaged and committed to the company, while team-building activities help employees get to know each other better and work together more effectively. Ultimately, this leads to a more productive and cohesive workplace.
There are many benefits to investing in a positive corporate culture. When employees feel that they belong to a team and that their work is essential, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated. A positive culture can also help attract top talent and reduce employee turnover.
Team-building activities are a great way to improve morale and cooperation among employees. By getting to know each other better, employees can develop trust and support, which leads to a more productive workplace where employees are willing to collaborate and work together to achieve common goals.
Hosting regular team-building events throughout the year is a great way to develop your culture and bring everyone together in an informal environment while demonstrating a fun side to work!
7. Provide Flexible Work Arrangements
Offering flexible work arrangements such as remote work options provides several benefits, including increased productivity and improved work/life balance, which leads to happier employees.
The ability to work from home some or all the time reduces travel time and allows employees more time to handle personal responsibilities while still meeting their work obligations. For example, this can include caring for a sick child or cycling through some laundry during their lunch.
Furthermore, employers can expect to see an increase in performance from employees working from home. A study conducted by Stanford University found that working from home resulted in a 13% increase in performance, greater job satisfaction, and decreased turnover, and reduced absenteeism.
8. Offer a Competitive Compensation & Benefits Package
It is no surprise that a competitive compensation package is a crucial factor in employee satisfaction and retention. When employees feel that they are fairly compensated for their work, they are more likely to stay with the company. Additionally, a comprehensive benefits package can help attract new employees and keep current employees healthy and happy.
A reasonable compensation and benefits package should include:
- Competitive salary
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
- Vision insurance
- Life insurance
- Disability insurance
- A retirement plan
- Paid vacation days
- Paid sick days
- Tuition reimbursement
- Employee discounts
It is important to note that not every employee will value every benefit. Some employees may care more about having a good salary and health insurance, while others may place more importance on paid vacation days and employee discounts.
Ultimately, offering a lucrative compensation and benefits package will result in a more satisfied workforce, reducing turnover and improving retention.
9. Implement Recognition Programs & Awards
Employees work hard to achieve goals on behalf of themselves, their co-workers, and managers every day - so make sure you let them know when they do something great!
Even small gestures such as sending out an e-mail to recognize someone's performance are easy yet effective ways to boost morale while encouraging employee engagement. This will ultimately lead to increased employee satisfaction levels that positively impact turnover rates across the board.
Not sure where to start? Here are five examples of awards that employers can implement to recognize outstanding work from their team members:
- Employee of the Month/Quarter/Year: This is one of the most common forms of recognition and can be done either informally or formally. The employee is typically recognized for exemplary work over a specific period.
- Spot Awards: These are awarded when an employee does something exceptional that is not necessarily part of their job duties. For example, they went above and beyond to help a co-worker or effectively resolved a customer service issue.
- Performance-Based Awards: These are given to employees who meet or exceed specific objectives or goals that have been set for them. This type of recognition is usually tied to financial rewards, such as bonuses or raises.
- Milestone or Service Awards: These are given to employees who have reached a certain number of years with the company or have achieved a significant accomplishment. They can be provided in the form of a plaque, certificate, or another type of physical award.
- Peer-to-Peer Awards: These are given to employees by their co-workers and can be for anything from taking on extra duties during a busy time to being an all-around good team player.
Employee recognition and awards help to improve engagement at work, increase productivity levels, and boost retention rates. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that recognizes their efforts and rewards their hard work.
10. Encourage Managers to Show Their Appreciation
While employee recognition programs and awards are a great way to improve engagement, managers can take this one step further by showing their appreciation on a more regular, informal basis.
An effective manager can cultivate and grow a team of individuals into a cohesive unit that works together to achieve the same goals. Showing appreciation for your employees increases their engagement and morale and helps build trust within the team.
A few simple ways that managers can show their appreciation include:
- Give them a handwritten note or card thanking them for their hard work.
- Acknowledge and compliment their unique skills and contributions.
- Ask them about their hobbies and life outside of work.
- Treat them to coffee or lunch.
- Make time for them with an open-door policy.
- Smile and say hello when you walk past their desk
These seemingly simple acts can drastically improve employee satisfaction. In fact, in Deloitte's Talent 2020 Survey, leadership support and recognition were identified as one of the top 3 non-financial factors for employee retention.
11. Ensure Availability of Employee Assistance Programs
Sometimes employees need a little extra help or support outside of work – whether personal or professional – so providing an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a great way to support your team when they need it most.
Employee assistance programs provide employees with access to resources and counseling services that can help resolve any personal or work-related problems they may be experiencing, such as anxiety or depression, relationship/family issues, or financial or legal issues, among others.
By having an EAP available, you are not only providing support to your employees, but you're also demonstrating that you care about their well-being. This can positively affect your company's overall morale and can help keep employees engaged in their work. It can also lead to increased productivity, better time management, and fewer absences from work.
12. Appreciate the Value in Social Events
All departments within an organization must get along well together since communication between groups helps organizations run more smoothly and efficiently.
There's nothing like a well-planned company social function(e.g., summer barbeque, holiday party, etc.) to bring everyone together in an informal setting where employees can genuinely connect outside the office environment.
To make your company social event a success, you will need to establish a budget, get your staff involved in the planning process, build hype around the event, and take plenty of photos. Assuming you have a decent budget to work with, you can also add door prizes or swag bags so that employees leave with something special.
13. Offer Job Perks That Matter
One way to build your employer brand to attract and retain top talent is to offer creative job perks that your employees can get excited about.
Some ideas include:
- Free Access to a Company Gym (or a Gym Membership)
- Group Discounts (i.e., Hotels, Car Rentals, etc.)
- On-site Childcare or Childcare Assistance
- Hybrid Work Environment
- Tuition Reimbursement
- Bring Your Dog to Work Day
- Company Vacation Property
- Paid Volunteer Work
- Audio Book Subscription
- Fun Break Room
- Company Seats for Sporting Events or Concerts
Giving your employees what they want – and need – can be the key to retaining them long-term.
14. Let Them Know You Care with Employee Wellness Programs
Closely related and often used in conjunction with Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), an Employee Wellness Program provides support and resources to employees to improve their overall health and happiness.
Employee wellness programs are designed to improve employees' health and encourage a healthy lifestyle. These programs might include access to on-site fitness centres or classes, stipends for at-home fitness equipment, bike-sharing programs, smoking cessation programs, healthy lunch options, wellness challenges/competitions, nutrition awareness, corporate recreational sports teams, etc.
Not only do employee wellness programs result in a healthier, more productive workforce, but they also double as an employment perk, both of which are components of an effective employee retention strategy.
15. Provide Continuous Feedback - Both Positive and Constructive
One component of an effective employee retention plan is to ensure that employees receive continuous feedback, including positive feedback and constructive criticism, when warranted.
Employees shouldn't have to wait for a performance review to determine what they are doing well and what they need to work on. To be successful and engaged, employees need to know where they stand and how they can improve. Positive and constructive feedback should be shared as often as possible so that there are no surprises or misunderstandings down the road.
16. Recruit Internally & Promote from Within
There are many benefits of promoting from within, including time and cost savings during the hiring and onboarding process, reduced risk of a bad hire, and improved retention rates.
Most employees are motivated by career advancement and professional growth. Offering your employees the opportunity to develop professionally and earn promotions makes them more likely to stay as they can see a path to advance their careers rather than looking elsewhere.
17. Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Normalizing and valuing a healthy work-life balance is vital to employee retention. When employees feel overworked and stressed, they are more likely to seek employment elsewhere. Promoting a healthy work-life balance shows employees that you value their well-being and want them to be productive, healthy, and happy.
Some ways to encourage a healthy work-life balance are to provide flexible work arrangements, such as working from home or job sharing and allowing for time off during the workday for doctor's appointments or parent-teacher conferences.
18. Build a Positive Employer Brand
Your employer brand and reputation can help you attract and retain the top talent for your organization. You can build a positive employer brand by creating a strong culture, being transparent with your employees, and offering good benefits and compensation.
When you have a positive employer brand, your employees will be more likely to recommend your company to their friends and family. They will also be more likely to stay with your organization for the long haul.
19. Value Strong Leadership and Management
Employees want to feel valued and appreciated. They also need to know that they're following strong leadership and management teams – this includes not only their direct supervisors but also those who make the big decisions (i.e., CEO, Company Owner/Founder, Directors).
But what do strong leadership and management look like? What can employers do to build a strong leadership and management team to ensure their employees feel appreciated and valued, understand their vision, and continue working for that company for years to come?
One way to foster a positive work environment is investing in management training. This helps equip supervisors with the skills they need to manage their team effectively. Employees are more likely to stay if they feel their supervisor is invested in their development and cares about their well-being.
In addition, providing good management support is vital. This includes having a clear mission and vision, communicating that mission and vision to employees, and reviewing employee performance regularly.
20. Encourage Creativity & Innovation
Innovation is essential in today's business environment as it can help you gain a competitive advantage over the competition. Some ways to encourage creativity and innovation include asking employees to brainstorm new ideas, allowing time to come up with fresh concepts that may benefit the organization, or holding lunch 'n learn sessions where employees can share their latest ideas.
By encouraging employees to be creative, you are giving them a voice and allowing them to see how their work is beneficial to the company as a whole. This leads to higher morale and retention rates as your staff feels valued and appreciated by their managers.
21. Conduct Exit Interviews
Exit interviews are a great way to gain valuable insights from employees who have already left your organization so that you can learn and implement strategies to help retain top talent moving forward. By understanding why employees are leaving, you can identify any potential areas of improvement and make the necessary changes to increase employee satisfaction and keep them from jumping ship.
Some of the key things that you can learn from exit interviews include:
- Factors for Leaving: This helps you understand what might be causing other employees to consider leaving, and you can address these issues.
- Overall Satisfaction with the Company: This gives you an idea about how you are doing in terms of offering competitive compensation and benefits packages, providing opportunities for career growth, fostering a positive work environment, etc.
- Opinion on Corporate Culture: When employees feel comfortable with what it is like to be part of your company, they will be more likely to stay. Thus, exit interviews can provide valuable feedback on how well your company culture resonates with employees.
- Effectiveness of your Onboarding Process: If new employees are not properly acclimated to your company culture and the job they were hired to do, they may quickly become dissatisfied and want to leave. Exit interviews can help you track the effectiveness of your onboarding process so that you can make any necessary adjustments
Overall, exit interviews provide a helpful way for employers to gain insights into what is working and not working with their organization. By knowing why people are leaving, employers can make the necessary changes to improve employee retention rates.
22. Consider Employee Stock Ownership or Profit-Sharing Plans
Incentivizing your employees can go a long way in employee satisfaction and productivity. This is especially true if you consider offering them either employee stock ownership or profit-sharing plans, demonstrating that they're not just another cog in the wheel but rather valuable members of the company itself.
Employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) or profit-sharing plans are two great methods of incentivizing employees. An ESOP is a retirement savings plan that allows employees to own shares. On the other hand, profit-sharing means that a company sets aside a portion of its profits to be shared with employees.
Employee stock ownership plans and profit-sharing plans were created with the same aim: to improve employee retention rates and productivity by incentivizing employees to work hard for their company.
23. Empower Employees & Give Them Autonomy
Employees want to feel like they matter and that their opinions matter. This is why it's important to empower them and give them autonomy to do what they need to do to be successful. This means allowing them to make decisions, offer suggestions, and implement reasonable changes without first seeking a manager's approval.
Giving employees the autonomy to make decisions instills mutual trust and respect, which makes them feel more valued and invested in the company's success. Autonomy gives employees a sense of belonging and influences them to see the company as a place where they truly matter.
24. Foster an Environment Focused on Teamwork & Collaboration
When it comes to job satisfaction and employee retention, companies would be wise to create a workplace culture that encourages teamwork and collaboration.
Employees who work in teams are more likely to be engaged than those working alone, and collaboration is becoming an essential skill for every sector. To support this, organizations need to foster a corporate culture that encourages teamwork and collaboration.
Here are five tips for how companies can create the environment employees crave:
- Hire for team fit. When hiring, focus on finding individuals who will be a good fit for the team. Look for candidates who have a collaborative mindset and are excited to work in a team environment.
- Establish team norms. Once you have your team in place, set some ground rules for how you want them to work together. This could be as simple as sharing essential information with the team or encouraging healthy debate.
- Allow employees to self-organize. Good teams can efficiently decide how they want to work without management's guidance. If employees are given more control over their workflow, they'll be happier and more productive in their roles.
- Drive operational alignment. To make the best decisions, teams need to have a shared understanding of their goals and how individual tasks fit into the larger picture. Ensure your team is on the same page about priorities by communicating this information regularly.
- Encourage socialization. A big part of team-building is getting to know your colleagues personally. Make sure you provide opportunities for employees to socialize outside of work, whether through team lunches or after-work drinks.
25. Prioritize Diversity & Inclusion
A diverse and inclusive workplace should be a pillar in every employee retention program. Employees are much more likely to stay with a company when they feel like they belong and their unique perspectives are appreciated.
When employers prioritize diversity and inclusion, they show their employees that the workplace is a safe place to express themselves and embrace their unique backgrounds, experiences, and ideas. Workplace diversity shouldn't be about meeting quotas or checking boxes but rather acting at all levels of the organization to be truly inclusive. This includes things like eliminating gender or ethnicity pay gaps, offering flexible work schedules, and providing training for all employees on inclusion and bias.
As more companies around the world start prioritizing diversity and inclusion in their workplace cultures, it's becoming clear that the future of business is interconnected and diverse. Many organizations are finding that by embracing a culture of inclusion, their hiring efforts improve, as does employee satisfaction, retention, and performance.
There you have it – 25 actionable items to improve your employee retention rates.
By following the information listed above, you'll be able to create a solid organizational culture and foster an environment where your employees feel encouraged and motivated.
Ready to take action? Download our Employee Retention Workbook and start implementing this checklist today.