The 5 essential elements of an employee retention strategy
Do you know the elements of an effective employee retention strategy? There’s never been a better time to (re)familiarize yourself, especially if your business struggles with high turnover.
While a certain amount of employee turnover is inevitable, leadership can take steps to reduce turnover and—in doing so—strengthen their organizations. It’s all about focusing on the elements that keep employees motivated, appreciated and loyal.
1. Work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance is essential for the mental health of employees and minimizing turnover in an organization. Poor work-life balance can lead to frustration, disengagement and even health issues. It’s also a key source of burnout, which is the primary reason for high turnover in the current economy. Consider that 50% of employees are burned out right now, and our own recent Deskless Report shows that 49% of managers are burned out as well.
So how do you avoid these pitfalls and ensure that everyone is able to maintain a good work-life balance? First, recognize the impact that staffing shortages have on workers and managers, and make staffing a priority if people are overworked. Avoid relying on excess effort—such as overtime and long shifts— to keep the business afloat, and monitor people’s capacity. In addition, make sure that team members have access to the help and resources they need, and take time to properly recognize people for their everyday effort, and not just for those times when they go above and beyond.
If you’re short-staffed right now and you need to get creative, there are some things you can do to ease the strain. For instance, some frontline businesses are adding flexible hours to their scheduling and allowing staff to trade, bid on or drop shifts. In these types of situations, it can also be helpful to post schedules earlier so that people can more effectively balance their responsibilities.
Communication is critical for retention, but it’s not about talking at people. Communication should be a two-way concept. Our Deskless Report revealed that many companies are falling short here—only 39% of frontline workers feel heard by their organization in 2022, a major drop from the 59% who felt heard in 2021.
So while management of course needs to communicate to the frontline (such as providing feedback as well as timely, reliable access to information needed to do the job whenever it’s needed), it’s also important for employees to have a voice. Everyone should feel like they’re an integral part of achieving a common goal, and they should feel comfortable coming to their supervisors with concerns, ideas or general feedback.
While all of this requires proactive effort from leadership, technology can play a role here as well. The right communication tools can help team members feel like part of a community while also making it easier for managers to provide timely information quickly and with less effort.
3. Appreciation and recognition
It’s important to make appreciation part of your employee retention plan. Research shows that a lack of employee recognition is a leading driver of company turnover. Part of the problem is that some employers only recognize top performers or employees who exceed expectations. This can create frustration and resentment in team members who do their jobs well but who don’t have the time, energy or interest in hustling their way to the top.
As an employer, you want to establish clear expectations and hold people accountable. It’s equally important to appreciate and encourage employees who meet those expectations—not just the employees who exceed them. When workers feel valued, it can lead to much greater job satisfaction.
4. Onboarding and upskilling
If you want your employees to invest in your company long-term, you need to first invest in them. That means making a sincere effort to prepare new employees for their job throughout the onboarding process and then continuing to nurture their growth—whether they ultimately hope to advance into a management position or into a different type of role entirely.
When you make this effort, it will help to promote retention. Consider that employees with an excellent onboarding experience feel much better in their job roles. In addition, continuous training helps to build proficiency and confidence, while skills development can provide the prospect of upward mobility, further motivating employees.
To help guide these efforts, consider using an onboarding LMS that supports employees not only in their initial weeks on the job but throughout their tenure and includes metrics to measure performance, knowledge and proficiency beyond completion rates.
5. Equitable opportunity to succeed
Equity is about ensuring that everyone has the tools and support they need to do their best work, regardless of where that work is done. Different teams and individuals require tailored support to ensure they don’t get left behind. For instance, if your organization employs a combination of frontline employees, back-of-house workers and office staff, each of these teams is going to have its own set of needs, challenges and limitations. You can’t expect the same solution to work for all of them.
If you want to set up everyone for success, you need to consider how everybody’s needs differ and then devise solutions accordingly. In a training setting, for example, your office staff might have more time to commit to long-form training while your frontline staff might require a microlearning solution that they can access on their phones in under 10 minutes a day.
Employee engagement ties it all together
There’s one quality that all the elements of employee retention have in common: engagement. Ultimately, if you want to retain people, you have to keep your employees engaged. This means making them feel supported, prepared, appreciated and able to do their jobs effectively.
Only about a third of employees are engaged in today’s workforce, so if you can overcome that hurdle and prioritize employee satisfaction as part of your company culture, you’ll be well on your way to improving your retention rate and strengthening your business.