For every company, talented employees are just like great perfume - everybody benefits from their presence, and you want that pleasant fragrance to last as long as possible. But just like perfume, great employees can dissipate into thin air. And with high turnover rates comes high turnover costs.
In 2018, workers in the U.S. quit at the highest rates since 2001, with over 3.5 million Americans quitting their jobs each month.
With such high employee turnover rates, how can companies retain their best talent for as long as possible? We spoke to employee retention experts and leaders across a wide spectrum of industries to understand how they encourage employees to stay - and to succeed.
Here are their thoughts.
Create a culture of respect to retain your employees
Chane Steiner, Chief Executive Officer at Crediful
"Make respect a priority. This means putting your foot down when you spot prejudices, disrespectful attitudes, and workplace disruptions. This can range from disciplinary actions to meeting with everyone in an effort to work through differences, but don't let things lie.”
Ask for input and maintain an “open door” policy
Cathy Renda, Director of Employee Engagement at WinterWyman
“The first step in the employee engagement and development process should be asking employees for their thoughts. Survey people to find out what appeals to them most. Each person’s need and requests will be different — and they don’t always require monetary compensation. Yes, some would like a raise, but you'd be surprised by how many are looking for things like more time-off, professional development opportunities or help with their weighty workload.“
Lisa Sterling, Chief People and Culture Officer at Ceridian
“Today’s technological innovations make it possible for us to personalize the needs of each individual employee regardless of geography. One way companies can make employees feel valued is to invest in an employee-centric experience where new hires receive personalized messaging, interactions, and direction from the very start. Helping people understand the vision of the organization, how they contribute and feeling a sense of inclusion is pertinent to the success of the workforce of the future. If employees do leave, the same technology can be used to improve the future employee experience and to conduct exit interviews.”
Invest in employee health and other pain points
John Rampton, Founder & CEO at Calendar
“The best technique maintaining employee retention rates is to be real and genuinely care for your team. As a business leader, I know it’s important to check in with your team. This not only means their physical health and allowing time off to get well, but checking in on their mental health.
This can also mean having one-on-ones either weekly, monthly, or quarterly to check in and see how they are doing. If their health is not so good or it’s affecting their performance, see what you can do to help as a leader. See what they might need from you to be more successful.”
Help employees achieve balance
Jen Slaw, Educator & Consultant at JenSlawSpeaks.com
“When we strengthen connections between the different “balls” we juggle, we are more able to be present and focused. When companies make it a priority to provide employees with the tools and support they need to better integrate work & life and tap into their purpose, they will attract & retain more good people. When those good people feel valued and supported, they can do their best work - they’ll take risks, collaborate, innovate, and create positive change for themselves and the organization.”
Share the company vision
Carlos Castelán, Managing Director at The Navio Group
“Perhaps the most important -- yet often overlooked– strategy that companies employ is setting a clear vision for employees which provides an understanding of why a team’s work is valuable. Furthermore, they set clear goals to help individuals focus on work -- and have autonomy – in pursuit of the company’s vision. Reinforcing the vision and goals through regular communication, both as a team and one-to-one, helps employees remember how their work furthers the organization’s mission and increases engagement by making the work feel meaningful. “
Provide flexibility and open communication
Dmytro Okunyev, Founder at Chanty
“The biggest impact on employee retention so far has been to give more flexibility to our employees. First, we introduced flexible working hours to accommodate everyone’s lifestyle. We wanted to make it possible to come in later or earlier, at their convenience and they have greatly appreciated this novelty.
Second, we introduced remote working, but not as an obligation, rather as an option. So, if someone wants to work remotely, they have the choice to do so any time they desire. If they want to work from the office, they’re free to join us whenever.”
Support all sectors of employee lives
“It’s not just skills training that keeps people in jobs. It’s providing them with the assistance they need to stay in jobs like gas cards, tuition reimbursement, stock options, ride-share costs, connecting them to local agencies and nonprofits who help with childcare and housing, and then providing them with a team of supportive qualified professionals who are experienced in navigating services and helping families through issues they may have.
Employee retention is also about learning persistence. This combination of support, skills training, and a change in mindset to overcome challenges provides a database for workers to access when they need it most.”
Understand ways to support job satisfaction
Ciara Hautau, Lead Digital Marketing Strategist at Fueled
“The first thing about employee retention you have to explore, is what is my employee looking to get out of the role and the organization? And that’s a two-way street.
Most times, I find that employees want to learn a certain type of skill, be assigned work that they find interesting, or obtain growth within the company. Ask about their interests, their goals, their weaknesses, what they want to learn, where they're looking to grow, and what they're looking forward to most about the role. It's definitely about listening, then putting thought into action and seeing results.”
Encourage professional growth
Andrea Loubier, CEO at Mailbird
“I've found that one of the best ways to ensure employee retention is to always allow the opportunity for growth. Let your team members feel as if they can continue learning and even move into other roles, if they so desire. No one likes the idea of feeling "trapped" in the same role, so continuously offer opportunities for change.”
You’ve heard from the experts. Now it’s time to take action. Learn how to leverage A.I. and empower your employees.