Effective employee retention strategies


November 28, 2019

There are several reasons why employee retention matters. High levels of employee turnover impact: 

Company bottom line: although most businesses don’t track this cost, studies show that replacing an employee that was performing to a good standard can cost the business 150% of their salary to replace.

Knowledge base in the company: employees who leave a company, particularly after a prolonged period of time take institutional knowledge with them. This will make your business, at least temporarily, less efficient. Research by HR Daily Advisor showed 42% of the skills to correctly perform a role are only known to the person in that role.

Performance and moral: if many colleagues are leaving, remaining employees may begin to feel more insecure and less motivated. Performance levels are likely to be impacted by former employees leaving and new employee onboarding.

However, further studies indicate if millennials are engaged at work, 64% are unlikely to switch roles in the next year, even if the job market improves in their area. So, key to employee retention is building and maintaining engagement as early as possible.

There are a number of ways your business can retain employees, so they remain engaged and stay with your business for as long as possible:

Retaining employees begins with hiring the right people to begin with. Ensure new hires have the skills to do the role and are also a good cultural fit for your company. To assess if they are a cultural fit, ask behavioural interview questions like:

  • tell me about how you communicated with your previous manager?
  • how have you maintained relationships with your co-workers? What skills do you use?
  • can you tell me about your most recent experience working with a team? How did you interact with the other team members?

These kinds of questions should indicate whether the potential employee takes a similar approach to their work as others in your business, allowing you to hire the most suitable person. 

There is no doubt that salary and benefits matter. As a business it is important you are competitive with similar businesses in your industry. Do some research, what are your direct competition offering that you are not? It may be higher salaries but other benefits matter too, health insurance, pension plans and rates of annual leave all help employees feel valued. 

‘People follow leaders, while they abandon bosses’ this is important to remember. Empower managers in your business to lead their employees. The best leaders will do a combination of the following:

  • share future plans with employees in real time
  • handle difficulties within the organisation so they don’t impact their team’s ability to get work done
  • commit to delivering high quality products or services
  • show employees how important they are to the success of the business
  • inspire confidence in their team
Encourage employees to learn new skills related to their roles. Continuing education is a way for an employee to grow, before they are ready for a promotion. Research by Gallup showed 87% of millennials say professional development is important in a job. Providing access to good quality education and training opportunities at no cost to them may assist in employee retention. Online training courses are a cost-effective way of allowing employees upskill at scale. There is also likely to be a wealth of knowledge within your organisation that can be shared with newer or less experienced employees.
If employees cannot see a clear path of progression within your organisation they are more likely to leave when they feel like they have outgrown their current role. Show employees how others have moved up the management ladder. One of the most effective ways to help employees grow is by providing mentors for candidates who may make the best managers. 
Health insurance cover is a valued employee benefit in most countries. If you have employees who work abroad in expat roles, consider providing international health insurance cover so they know they can access the healthcare they need wherever they are based. 
Employee or Expat Assistance Programme's provide employees with services to help them resolve issues they may be having either at work or in their personal lives. This can take many forms, including talk therapy or counselling. 

Ensure you conduct exit interviews with everyone before they leave and probe for the real reason they are departing. Was it truly better benefits? Or did they not feel they fit in well with their team? Did they get offered a better role? Or did they not feel valued by your organisation? Getting to the real answers is key to resolving high employee turnover. 


Away from the big-ticket items, there are small ways to improve organisational culture and make employees more likely to stay:


1.      Social Club

Provide a budget for a social club to arrange employee entertainment, socialising together will help teams to build stronger relationships.

2.      Casual Fridays

If you work in an industry where formal wear is required most of the week, see if Fridays or the last day of the week in your country, can be a little more relaxed?

3.      Office games room

If you have the space, can you add a games room where employees can let off some steam in a relaxed environment. Pool and table tennis tables are popular options.

Whatever combination of benefits you choose, ultimately employees who feel they are a valued part of your business are more likely to remain for the long haul.