All posts by Amanda Peterson

5 Critical Factors for Improving Employee Retention

It’s normal for businesses to experience some personnel loss each year. However, the goal of retention is to keep that loss at a minimum.

By Samo Trebizan / Shutterstock

Employee retention refers to an organisation’s ability to keep, or retain, its employees and reduce turnover. It’s usually measured as a percentage of the employees who were present from the beginning to the end of the year. It’s normal for businesses to experience some personnel loss each year. However, the goal of retention is to keep that loss at a minimum.

Why is employee retention important?

One of the first, and arguably most important, reasons to put effort into retention is to create happier employees who will work harder, produce better results and ultimately, earn more money for the company. Happier employees are also more likely to feel a sense of loyalty to their organisations and recommend it to others for employment.

Contented employees are vital to a successful business, but retention is also important because of turnover costs. According to a CAP study, the average cost of replacing an employee can be up to 230 per cent of their annual salary for high-level executives, and 16 to 20 per cent of annual salary for low- to mid-tier employees. An executive making $200,000 a year could cost up to $416,000 to replace.

However, this figure doesn’t even include the “soft costs” associated with losing an employee, which can encompass productivity, engagement, training and cultural impacts. Focusing efforts on retention can keep employees happier and save organisations up to hundreds of thousands of dollars per person.

1. Start with onboarding

It may seem counterintuitive to start working to keep employees on their first day or before they’re even hired. However, studies have shown companies lose 25 per cent of employees within their first year, and as much as 20 per cent of that turnover happens in the first 45 days of employment.

Employees get their first glimpse of a company in the onboarding phase. Standardised onboarding processes have proven to result in greater productivity from new employees and 18 per cent higher rates of goal achievement. According to tech leader Mark Hurd, companies must make it easy for new hires to assimilate, especially when it comes to the simplest tasks, like getting an ID card and tools for their jobs, or even knowing where the restrooms are. “All of this stuff sounds so rudimentary, but it was taking weeks for some of this stuff to get done,” Hurd noted, “And in the meantime, the employee is unmotivated and doesn’t understand where the resources are.”

2. Demonstrate opportunities for growth

It’s important for employees to see a clear path for growth within their job right from the get-go. This can start during the recruitment process by highlighting to potential employees some of their prospective colleagues who have already moved up in the organisation. This can show them some potential directions they can take with their own career paths.

A Glassdoor and Harvard Business Review survey found employees who remain in a job for a long period of time without promotion are significantly more likely to seek out other companies for the next step in their career. Conversely, employees who see a clear trajectory for upward mobility have a much higher likelihood of staying with an organisation to work toward their end goal.

3, Offer flexible work arrangements

Flexible work arrangements are one of the most important perks job seekers look for right now. However, providing this benefit can do more than bring a company plenty of applications. It can also result in more satisfied, higher performing employees in the long run.

Offering flex time or a work-from-home policy shows employees their employer is cognizant of their time and is dedicated to creating a positive work-life balance. It also demonstrates a level of trust in each worker’s ability to do their job correctly without in-person supervision.

4. Provide consistent learning opportunities

A Consumer Technology Association (CTA) survey found special skills trainings or professional development programs to be one of the most important factors for retaining employees. Kevin Griffin, an IT advisor at Falco Enterprises, noted, “a commitment to training is seen by employees as an investment in their worth and a powerful incentive to stay at the company.”

By providing ample learning opportunities, companies allow employees to feel like they’re always making progress in their careers. Giving employees the opportunity to attend conferences, or providing regular in-office trainings, can act as major motivators for employees to remain with their employer. However, these activities should be counted as part of the workday rather than something undertaken on the employees’ own time, to prove the business is dedicated to educating their workers.

5. Implement open lines of communication

More employees leave their employers because of poor managerial relationships than for any other reason. Management should pay close attention to how they communicate with subordinates. Managers and supervisors should remain open to feedback and keep open lines of communication at all times.

Workers should feel comfortable and encouraged to speak up during meetings to offer their opinions without fear of backlash. Open channels of communication make employees feel valued, safe, and heard.

Companies that put effort into employee retention will have happier and more motivated employees, which will in turn save money over the long run.