Employees are to a company as food is to a body. Beyond being essential to its very operation, great employees lend your business a significant advantage when it comes to long-term organizational success. Today’s human resources professionals understand that finding and hiring top talent is only half the battle — if you’re replacing standout employees every couple of years, it’s time to seek out new employee retention ideas that will motivate employees to stay with your company.
This article will equip you with five impactful employee retention strategies to help fight turnover at your company. These tips are applicable across almost any industry, and they tie back to vetted best practices and fundamental human psychology.
Before we delve into the more actionable recommendations we have to share, let’s take a moment to discuss why it’s essential for leaders to implement employee retention ideas and the benefits low-turnover organizations experience.
Why We Need to Talk About Employee Retention
At 73 million strong, millennia’s officially make up the largest segment of the modern workforce. As its older members graduate college and take on their first professional roles, Gen-Z is beginning to emerge as a generational cohort as well.
These younger generations are distinct from their predecessors in a number of ways. Millennials and Gen-Z tend to have higher expectations around companies making a positive global impact, diversity and inclusion, and the kind of work-life balance (or integration) that supports holistic wellness.
In addition to the strengths millennials and Gen-Z have imbued in the modern workforce, they also bring a unique set of challenges. Due in large part to their desire to find roles at companies aligned with their values, these younger employees seem to seek out new roles at a much higher frequency than their older counterparts.
In a survey exploring the turnover tendencies of the modern workforce, 64% of respondents said they approve of job hopping. That percentage has been on the rise for the past several years, which undoubtedly traces back to the growing representation of younger generations in the workforce: on average, millennials change jobs three times more often than non-millennials. As Gen-Z begins to enter the workforce, they’re expected to follow the same trend.
For companies, these tendencies come with a high price tag. According to Gallup, turnover costs U.S. businesses an estimated $1 trillion every year. Other estimates say it takes one-third of the person’s annual salary to replace an employee who quits. That’s not to mention all of the hard-earned institutional knowledge and meaningful interpersonal relationships that disappear with them. These facts and figures make the point indisputable: leaders must seek and implement employee retention ideas to fight turnover and support organizational success.
GEN Z: Generation Z, colloquially known as Zoomers, is the demographic cohort succeeding Millennials and preceding Generation Alpha. Researchers and popular media use the mid-to-late 1990s as starting birth years and the early 2010s as ending birth years.
MILLENNIALS: This generation is generally marked by elevated usage of and familiarity with the Internet, mobile devices, and social media, which is why they are sometimes termed digital natives.
Five Unique Employee Retention Ideas
From a pessimistic stance, it may seem as though the modern workforce’s tendency towards turnover is indicative of impatience, or perhaps even disloyalty. More optimistically, it might be interpreted as a sign that today’s employees are committed to dedicating their working lives to organizations genuinely aligned with their personal values. Corporate leaders who not only understand but respect those values will be able to better retain their employees. Additionally, they will build a stronger company as a result.
1. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements
If an employees’ personal needs and professional obligations are at odds, growing frustration will inevitably lead them to seek a new position at an organization that can better adapt to their needs. This might apply to parents who need flexible schedules to accommodate childcare (especially with many at home due to COVID-19), or those who would prefer to work remotely to best suit their lifestyles.
With a few exceptions, it’s generally in an organization’s best interest to offer employees these options. Remote workforces have been repeatedly shown to have numerous benefits, including:
- Remote employees have 50% lower turnover
- Remote employees work 1.4 more days each month compared to in-office counterparts
- Remote employees show higher rates of productivity
- Organizations that support remote work incur significantly lower overhead costs.
If you are able to offer employees flexible working arrangements, it makes the logistical components of keeping life in order more manageable and also sends an important message: your company genuinely cares about its employees’ wellbeing and wants to make their lives better, not harder.
2. Support Peer-to-Peer Relationships
One of the most effective ways to make your company culture “sticky” is by facilitating strong bonds between colleagues. The efficacy of this employee retention idea can be understood simply by considering the high value of meaningful interpersonal relationships. Genuine connections take time to find and form, so when they do, most people aren’t quick to toss them aside.
If an employee feels they’ve cultivated even one or two genuine friendships at work, they’re a lot more likely to stay. In fact, relationships are the second most important factor in job satisfaction (preceded only by physical safety factors). On top of that, peer-to-peer relationships are associated with better communication, lower stress, and higher engagement. Supporting strong peer-to-peer relationships is not only in your company’s best interest, but your employees too.
Since peer-to-peer relationships will mostly be built virtually for a while due to COVID-19, we recommend checking out this guide to managing remote employees, which shares 10 helpful ideas to keep your team connected.
3. Offer Lifestyle Perks
Today’s employees are looking for more than a big number on their paychecks. When it comes to compensation, don’t underestimate the impact of offering your team exclusive perks and benefits. These work great as an employee retention idea because they give your team even more reasons to love working for your company.
When trying to determine what specific perks to offer to your team, keep in mind that your workforce contains a multitude of interests, priorities, and needs. It’s best to offer an assortment of corporate perks to ensure there’s something for everyone. Don’t burden your HR team with the daunting task of negotiating these perks themselves — instead, work with a third-party provider that can offer you a catalog of exclusive discounts ranging from gym memberships and travel to apparel and home goods.
These exclusive offers will improve your employees’ lives (both in and outside the office), and they’ll appreciate the fact that your company demonstrates genuine support for their wellbeing.
4. Recognize Excellent Performance
Studies show that organizations with a ‘recognition-rich’ culture see 31% lower turnover. Another study found that 79% of employees who recently quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a major contributing factor. One employee retention idea that directly addresses this turnover contributor is to make recognition a cultural norm. It’s effective, too: studies show that as the frequency of recognition increases, turnover decreases.
In general, cultural variables can feel like factors beyond your direct control, but recognition specifically falls squarely within it. Employee recognition programs offer a clear solution to creating the kind of company culture that inspires employees to stay for the long-term.
These platforms equip employees with clearly outlined recognition occasions, a monthly point allotment to distribute to colleagues, and a publicly accessible social feed that makes it easy for everyone in the company to build each other up. Especially in the current climate of mostly-remote teamwork, this particular employee retention idea can function as a critical tool to keep employees connected.
5. Provide Professional Development
Last but not least, our final employee retention idea is offering employees ample professional development opportunities. Even if you’ve cultivated the perfect work environment and employees are more than happy with the day-to-days of their roles, eventually they’ll start thinking long-term. If they don’t feel like your company is a place where they can progress in their professional journey, they’ll seek opportunities elsewhere.
Professional development opportunities come in many forms: in some cases, it might be a lunch and learn that appeals to your workforce’s broader interests, a tuition reimbursement program, an internal mentorship program where junior employees are paired with top executives, or anything else in between.
Because employees have diverse interests, learning styles, and goals, it’s best to offer as much variety as you can. Additionally, it can be helpful to work with employees to create employee development plans that outline clear, sequential steps to meet the person’s professional goals. If that’s something you’re interested in, this guide offers best practices and downloadable templates to get you started.
Keep in mind that all of these employee retention strategies exercise the heaviest impact when applied in combination, but even if you choose to commit to implementing just one your company will reap big benefits. Don’t forget that all of these employee retention ideas are focused on creating a climate that effectively enables personal, professional, and company success.
Successful Employees Make Successful Companies
In a win-win scenario, the employee retention ideas shared in this article will not only help your employees feel more satisfied and fulfilled, but will also facilitate an organizational climate that’s more conducive to success. Individual employee success, positioned behind clearly defined organizational goals and values, cumulatively amounts to company success. Never forget that when you invest in your people, you are also investing in your company.
Credit: Katerina Mery