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How to Create an Employee Retention Program

It can be challenging to find good candidates during times of low unemployment. And if you do get them on board, it isn’t a guarantee that they will stay, and smart employers know that employee retention can be difficult to master. What is your current retention strategy, and how does it define your company’s brand? Learn more about the best practices that can help keep your best employees around for years to come.

What is a Retention Strategy?

High employee turnover and attrition are bad for business. Not only is it costly from a financial perspective, but it’s also terrible for morale, the culture of your workforce, and the reputation of your company as an employer. How can you combat these?

You can start by creating policies that focus on keeping good employees on for the long-term—also known as your retention strategy. By improving employee retention, you will get a better ROI per new employee and build a stable company culture that people will want to embrace.

How to Create Effective Employee Retention Strategies

Before you ever start writing the policies that will help your employee retention problems, you need to know how bad it may be. Start this part of the process by measuring your turnover rate. If your turnover is too high, your retention strategy clearly isn’t working. You can start by reviewing these aspects of your business and asking important questions about each one.

Consider These Employee Compensation Strategies

If an employee doesn’t feel that their entire benefits package reflects their value, they could become dissatisfied and seek out an employer who can provide this. It’s also important to provide compensation and benefits that are truly important to your employees, not just on-trend.

If your workforce doesn’t care about free pet daycare or “Taco Tuesday,” don’t insult them by including it in their compensation. Only those perks that are important to your employees count.

Working Environment

From the desks your employees sit at, to the meetings they attend during the day, all aspects of their surroundings are opportunities to bolster employee retention. Work to improve the details so your workers feel valued. Whether you choose to upgrade the vending machine or let the sales team wear jeans on Fridays, add healthy work environment perks to your strategy to round out your overall plan.

Management Style and Relationships

The best pay and perks in the world won’t make up for lackluster management. Make sure your leaders are well-trained in skills outside of what your business demands. Get them regular training on how to deal with personal conflict and offer ways for them to vent about problem employees in a way that won’t interfere with the business day. Equip them with the skills necessary to tackle the issues that can arise in a modern, diverse office. Also, let them know when they’ve done a good job.

Personal Development and Growth

Most employees have interesting lives outside the office. What have you done to support those lives? Be sure to include this in your employee retention plan by incorporating ways for workers to build their skills and help them grow as people — not just as employees. It can be hard to know what interests your employees, and it’s not always feasible to get that information from everyone. Consider reimbursing them for their choice of day conference, class, or workshop.

9 Ways to Improve Employee Retention

There are a number of actions you can take to start making things better for your employees and encourage them to stay on board. They include the following.

1. Offer Competitive Pay and Benefits

First and foremost, you need to be competitive with your employee compensation structure. There are many things you can do to improve the workplace, but if employees don’t believe that they are paid well, it’s just a matter of time before they move on.

Look at the sum of the parts of your plan, including salary, insurance, paid time off, and even memberships and discounts. If there’s a way to boost one of these perks without much additional out-of-pocket cost to you, do it. Then, communicate these changes to all of your employees.

2. Extra Perks

In addition to the more formal benefits package, see what you can do to offer “nice to haves.” These can include parking reimbursement or free snacks and coffee. Even if you can’t afford to offer these perks every day, try to incorporate them when and where possible. After all, a free weekly lunch is better than no free lunch, and your workers are sure to take notice of your initiative.

3. Health and Wellness Benefits

Employees strive to live balanced lives, but they may find it hard to incorporate exercise and healthy eating programs into a busy workweek. Giving them access to programs, like gym memberships and counseling services, can help reduce some of the stress. It will also show that you are concerned about them from a holistic perspective and not someone who only cares about their work output.

4. Improved Training and Career Development

From the very first day, employees want to feel that they are worth investing in. Give them every chance to succeed with onboarding and orientation programs that help them put their best foot forward. Also, be sure to answer their questions and make them feel welcome.

From there, continue offering training and professional development programs that not only teach them skills applicable to their jobs, but prepare them to have fruitful careers in the greater industry.

5. Mentoring

Every employee should feel that they have one person they can go to with questions. If that person can be a member of upper management or a proven leader in the company, this will be even more valuable. Schedule monthly lunch meetings with a mentor, if possible. When employees can see themselves in their mentors, they are more likely to push themselves to achieve greater goals over time. 

6. Access to Executives

The heads of companies don’t have time to reach out to each and every associate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t orchestrate some level of access. Whether through an annual Q&A done at an employee event or through a column printed in the company newsletter, C-level executives need to do some outreach to address issues and encourage employees to be their best.

7. Flexible Work Arrangements

If your industry is one where employees don’t always need to be in the office, consider how telecommuting arrangements could fit into your scheduling. For positions where workers need to be onsite, explore how a four-day workweek or shifting the lunch hour can help.

These types of adjustments could give employees with family obligations or school commitments a way to practice adequate work-life balance without causing stress or affecting their job duties. Sometimes, employees only need a slight tweak to their schedule to relieve major conflicts in their personal lives.

8. Regular Performance and Compensation Reviews

If you aren’t already giving each employee annual performance reviews with an opportunity to earn more, start doing it now. People need this opportunity to not only know what they are doing wrong but to have the assurance that they are doing things well and are valuable additions to the company.

Even if you don’t have room in your budget to give a raise at each review, it’s a worthwhile experience to get feedback on how the employee is enjoying their job. This allows you to troubleshoot simple problems before they become a bigger issue that may cause your employee to leave.

9. Give Recognition

Programs like “employee of the month” may seem outdated, but when implemented correctly, they can boost morale and give dedicated employees something to look forward to. Even simple acts of recognition foster a culture of appreciation.

Don’t save your recognition for annual events, either. Simple “thank you” communications, an appreciation lunch, or giving launch teams a longer lunch break can be effective ways to show that you recognize their contributions.

These are just a few of the ways employers can acknowledge existing employees and create a brand that job candidates will see as an attractive reason to join your team.

From your very first contact with a candidate, look at how you can create a company culture of appreciation. Learn how an applicant tracking system like Comeet can improve your hiring process and preserve that culture from day one.


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