The Ultimate Employee Retention Guide

Employee Retention and Turnover Solutions

To solve employee turnover, we look at employee retention best practices and organization-specific strategies.

Current best practice is to improve the employee experience in order to increase employee engagement and retention—and all the other great things that come with them, like improved business performance.

The CMO of People maps the employee experience from the employee’s perspective instead of HR’s perspective. This small shift can help focus efforts on a great experience instead of an efficient process.

Even before someone is hired, they can begin to experience the passion of the leadership, the camaraderie of the workplace, and the inspiration of the organization’s purpose.

An employee value proposition (EVP) articulates what a person gains by working for you. Defining and communicating your EVP improves both recruitment and retention.

Gartner reports that organizations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease turnover by nearly 70%. They identify five key categories of a strong EVP:

  • Rewards includes compensation, health benefits, and recognition awards
  • Work includes person-job fit and work-life balance
  • Opportunity includes career and development opportunities
  • People includes coworkers, managers, and senior leaders
  • Organization includes product quality and social responsibility

Starting day one, you will want your employees to experience the EVP throughout their time with your company. These are all opportunities to engage and retain your talent - or not.

That said, when it comes to turnover in your unique organization, a general best practice may not be the answer. The solution depends on the problem.

Your retention efforts will be more effective (and cost-effective) if they are tailored to the critical people at risk of leaving. Based on who these critical people are and the reasons they are at risk of leaving, consider the following strategies to reduce employee turnover.

Total rewards

Compensation has less to do with retention than most people believe. However, it is a major factor in deciding between job offers.

If an employee is recruited by another company that offers higher pay, that could be a key reason they leave. The same goes for benefits and perks—vacation time may not be why employees stay, but it could be why some leave.

Therefore, regularly benchmark your total rewards against your competition for talent. Also, listen to employee feedback on what they value. That said, avoid competing on pay and giving employees every perk they ask for. It’s unsustainable, with diminishing returns.

What you can do is make sure that your employees are recognized for the hard work they do. Everybody prefers to be appreciated in a specific way, which is why we recommend checking out our study with SurveyMonkey about the five languages of appreciation. Rewards isn’t just about monetary amounts—it’s also about building trust, making others feel seen, and providing a positive employee experience.

Onboarding

Many people quit because the job wasn’t what they expected. Before hiring someone, ensure you are providing them realistic previews of the job and work environment.

Then, use your first impression wisely. Essentially, you want to affirm their decision to join the company. Make their first day special, make them feel welcome!

Next, set them up for success. People quit when they feel neglected, overwhelmed, under-qualified, or under-trained.

Be extra clear with new hires about the role and expectations. Ensure they have enough access to their supervisor when they have questions. No matter how brilliant they are, everyone has a learning curve in the beginning.

Finally, socialization into the culture is the biggest missed opportunity in onboarding. Incorporate culture into your onboarding program. Integrate formal and informal opportunities to build connections with co-workers. A buddy or mentor program is a common approach that gives the employee someone to go to with the less technical, more “how do you use the espresso machine?” kind of guidance.

For more tips on effective onboarding, check out our webinar: Employee Appreciation Starts with Onboarding.

Leadership

There’s no denying how important managers are. Supervisors play a key role in most retention drivers. That’s why enabling leaders to be their best is so important.

New managers need training, coaching, and support. They need the information and tools to lead their teams. For more details, read our summary of a strong leadership toolkit.

Apart from the role they play in retaining employees, it is critical to retain leaders! Don’t assume that just because they’re higher up in the career ladder, that they need less appreciation for their hard work. A good place to start is by recognizing your leaders.

Plus, don’t forget about your most senior leaders. PwC’s Strategy& reported turnover among CEOs at the world’s largest companies at 17.5% in 2018, a record high in 19 years. These senior leaders can leave huge information gaps in their wake if they leave, so don’t just assume they’re here to stay.

Most of the time a CEO leaves, it’s a planned succession. However, successor CEOs tend to deliver lower performance and shorter tenures. Which makes it all the more important to retain, engage, and prepare the people in your succession pipeline.

Learning and development

We love the quote from Peter Baeklund:

“A CFO asks a CEO: What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?

The CEO responds: What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

Development shouldn’t stop after an employee is trained to meet the expectations of the role. When you provide your people with the time, encouragement, and access to learning, then you are helping them to feel valued and that the company cares about their personal success. Bonus points if these employees are continually recognized for their ambition.

Based on the budget and function, this could be in the form of an online learning platform, conferences, job shadowing, mentorship, and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing.

Development should also be the focus of your performance management program. (By the way, we have a complete guide on that, too.)

Recognition

To provide the feedback that employees want, combine performance development with recognition. Josh Bersin reports that the top 20% of “recognition-rich” companies have 31% lower voluntary turnover rates.

When employees feel under appreciated, Robert Half found two thirds of employees would leave their jobs. Gallup found they were twice as likely to quit within a year.

Moral of the story: when you recognize and appreciate your employees, they’re more likely to stick around—and be more engaged, productive team members as well. Find information and benefits about effective recognition in The Guide to Modern Employee Recognition.

Growth and advancement

Growth encompasses the opportunity to contribute more, whether it’s a promotion or greater participation in decision making. Without changing jobs, employees can find growth through greater meaning in the work and greater contribution to the organizational purpose.

In a survey of over 2,000 professionals, over 90% would trade pay for meaning. On average, they would be willing to earn 23% less in their lifetime. They would even learn less just for a manager who cared about them having meaningful work.

When employees have meaning, they are more productive and take less time off. The study estimates this generates an additional $9,078 per worker for the company, every year. Furthermore, turnover risk reduces by 24% when shared purpose is combined with social support.

Any job has room for creativity and meaning. Focusing on the people that the employee helps. Create a shared purpose with the team. Consider job crafting, which allows employees to redesign or reframe their job.

In addition, look for ways to facilitate internal mobility. This could be as simple as ensuring employees are aware of job openings. This can be supported by encouraging one-on-one discussions with managers about developing skills for future jobs.

Wellness and work-life balance

Investing in wellness shows that the company cares about its people, which increases their satisfaction with the workplace. It also happens to improve the bottom line.

This is another area that depends on the needs of your unique employee population, paying close attention to those at most risk of attrition. Examples can be subsidized transit passes, free healthy snacks, or a wellness spending account.

The most important place to instill wellness is in the culture. On-site yoga classes won’t feel very genuine if employees fear they’ll look bad for leaving their desk to participate. Look in your day-to-day interactions and workflows for ways to support well-being.

Work-life balance is a priority and a challenge for pretty much everyone who works. Many are moving to more of a work-life integration or blend.

This had led to high demand for flexible work arrangements, which can save costs and increase productivity but can also introduce new challenges.

Figure out what makes sense for your organization and how to support it from the culture up. How about checking out Bonusly’s employee recognition and rewards platform? Join us for a demo to learn more about how you can start building a highly engaged organizational culture. Otherwise, Chapter 5 gives you a rundown of the best HR tech tools on the market.

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