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20 Realistic Employee Retention Strategies to Try in 2020

Get ahead of turnover, by implementing employee retention strategies for the new year.
woman at desk thinking about employee retention strategies

Employee turnover costs a company time and money. In fact, a recent Gallup report estimated that millennial turnover, alone, costs the US economy about $30.5 billion a year. Not only can high employee exit rates end up hurting a business’ bottom line, but it can also wreak havoc on a tactical level. Increased turnover can negatively impact workload and production schedules. Plus, team morale can take a hit. 

So, how can businesses get ahead of high turnover rates in 2020? Practical employee retention strategies that focus on realistic tactics, in place of idealistic ones, may be just the solution. 

What are employee retention strategies?

Employee retention strategies are efforts designed to keep quality talent within your company.  Employee retention strategies vary widely. Some elements are quite simple to execute, while others can take years to fully develop and show their impact. 

But there is no better time than the present to put employee retention strategies into action. The sooner companies can get behind a strategy, the better off their odds will be at keeping quality employees away from competitors’ job postings. Ready to get started? Here are some clear tactics to implement employee retention strategies in the new year:

1. Live up to your employer brand message. 

First of all, ensure your company in fact has an employer brand strategy. Some companies still don’t realize how important it is to establish a brand’s mission and company culture. These elements make up your employer brand and can help you attract quality talent and loyal consumers. 

That being said, what is just as important as having a strong employer brand is actually living up to it. For example, if you are a company that stands for a healthy work-life balance, you should have official guidelines in place that support that culture. It is not enough to simply say who you are as a brand. If you want to keep employees around, you have to live up to any ideals. 

2. Hire smarter. 

If you spend time hiring the right people, your chances of them sticking around will be greater. Further, companies should look at building teams instead of filling one-off positions. Culturally and cognitively diverse teams can set a company up for success. And when a company is successful, invested employees should be more willing to stay committed to the task at hand. 

Look to recruiting methods that dive deeper into a person’s experience level and potential. Consider making a skills or personality assessment a part of the application process. And widen your candidate pool with social recruiting methodsthat can help you connect with both passive candidates and active job seekers. 

3. Connect with new hires throughout their first year—not just the first week. 

Many companies place a lot of effort around onboarding an employee at the beginning of their employment. But after the first few weeks, orientations and check-ins can completely fall off of the calendar. Realistically, it can take an employee about six months to really settle into their position and the company’s culture. And this is also a time when some employees will disengage if they haven’t connected with the company or their work enough. 

As part of your employee retention strategies, make an effort to touch base with new hires over the course of the first year. Host new hire events and schedule quarterly check-ins to talk about the transition to their new position. If new employees have doubts, these check-ins provide the perfect opportunity to address them. 

4. Communicate company goals.

Employees want to know what a company is ultimately trying to achieve. Communicating corporate goals can go a long way in terms of employee retention. If employees know what the big picture objectives are, they may feel more connected to the company. And that brings us to our next point: 

5. Clearly outline how their personal goals support company goals. 

Most people want the company they work for to be successful. And if they can clearly see how they can help, they should be more committed to their piece of the corporate puzzle. Take time to clearly outline employees’ goals and ask them to add opportunities of their own. Then take some time to connect their daily tasks to the ultimate goal of the brand. 

For example, let’s say you are talking with a finance employee and one company goal is to increase the impact of the marketing department. Task the individual with finding a way to increase marketing spend. Not only will this give them a clear purpose, but it will also help expose them to other areas of the business. 

6. Create authentic engagement opportunities.

According to a Gallup study, millennials are the least engaged generation in the workplace. Perhaps this is because they are not willing to settle if they do not feel a connection to a company or valued by their employer. Look for employee engagement ideas that are authentic to your brand and put them into action. 

7. Develop individual skill sets.

If you want to lower turnover rates, invest some time in career mapping for your employees. This is one way way to show you are invested in their growth within your company. If people can see a path for moving up within their team or department, they will be less likely to look for positions at other companies. 

8. Equip your company with good leaders. 

A company’s leaders can have a big impact on employee turnover. Many employees will even say they left because of a bad manager or leader, not because of the work, pay or company. Create leadership training programs and sit down with managers on a regular basis. Find out what is working and not working within their team. Coach them on how to handle conflict and job performance. Strengthening leaders’ communication with their team members will only help foster better functioning relationships. 

9. Establish fair and constructive review cycles.

Even when employees know they are meeting expectations or over-performing, they want to hear it from their leader or the company. Create opportunities to review job performance in a structured way. If employees know they have a review to work toward, they may not feel as anxious to make a move in the interim. 

10. Avoid lapses in pay raises. 

One surefire way to keep employees around is to stay competitive with the industry standards in terms of salaries and pay scales. This tactic, though an important one among employee retention strategies, may not always be the easiest to see through, since budgets ultimately dictate what can be done. If your company can’t extend the raises needed to keep employees around today, look forward and work toward solutions for the future. 

11. Reward employees with non-monetary incentives. 

Although your organization may not always have the budget available to reward high performers in the form of a raise or bonus, you can still show that you value their efforts in other ways. Consider awarding a day off, treating a high performer to lunch, spotlighting their performance on social media, or simply recognizing their work in an email to the team. 

12. Promote a culture that respects work-life balance. 

Millennials, perhaps more than any other generation, actively want a flexible work environment. Today, many companies can support remote work-from-home days and unconventional schedules. If you want to not only attract but also retain a productive workforce, it’s important for your company culture to offer some opportunity for flexible work environments. 

13. Enrich individual experiences with mentorship programs. 

One way to help employees feel connected to the company is to offer mentorship programs. Opening up these kinds of learning opportunities to the whole company can expose individuals to new areas of the business. And the more an employee knows about the business and its functioning parts, the more likely they will be invested in the company as a whole. 

14. Offer employees an opportunity to make a difference. 

Give employees opportunities to give back to matters that resonate with them and your company. Create group volunteer days that help your local community or a cause that relates to your industry. You could also ask your employees how they would like to give back and take their lead. 

15. Stay competitive with tools and technology. 

Ambitious employees don’t want to feel like they are falling behind. Using out of date technology and tools can be a turnoff when dealing with a workforce that is forward-thinking, results-driven, and ambitious. Ensure that your company audits its technology and tools on a regular basis. Dedicate a team to research new advancements and connect with employees to see what they think could be improved. 

16. Offer comprehensive benefits packages. 

Show your employees that you care about them as people. Keep your benefits packages competitive and cover both physical and mental health components. In addition, flexible schedules, wellbeing support, and outplacement services are all great offers to extend to employees. 

17. Keep corporate communication as transparent as possible.

To put it simply, employees like to know what is going on. If employees are being left in the dark, they can feel like they are unimportant or not valued. And when they feel those things, they will likely start to look for a new job. To keep employees engaged, get in the habit of sending out a newsletter that shares high-level information. This kind of regular communication can expose employees to information that can answer important questions and keep workers connected. 

18. Make recognition a priority. 

Show employees that your company values their contributions, whether they are big or small. You could establish an employee spotlight series either on social media or within a company newsletter. Another option is to simply send “shoutouts” to the team at the end of the week, recognizing people who have achieved a goal or made a difference. 

19. Acknowledge areas of the company that could be improved. 

Welcome feedback from your workforce. No company is perfect, so instead of being defensive, offer opportunities to collect insights that could make your business better. You could send out a quarterly survey to ask employees about their overall experience at your company. You could also welcome real-time feedback by sharing access to a comment portal. You might also want to monitor your company’s social media accounts for unsolicited feedback. If a comment recurs or an issue that should be addressed is shared, then take the time to acknowledge it. 

Employees are faced with many challenges, some that are easy to address and other that may take some time to manage. Review what your employees have to say and take action on common themes or obvious pitfalls. 

20. Make changes.

It’s important for companies to be flexible and open to evolution. Employees won’t stick around if your company isn’t willing to grow along with them and the industry. Keep looking for ways to improve, don’t get too comfortable, and when it makes sense, let your employees lead the change. 

All of these employee retention strategies are worthwhile. But at the end of the day, simply valuing the employees you’ve worked so hard to recruit can go a long way. Retaining high performers is just one challenge HR professionals will have to tackle in the new year. Read on to see how to overcome other obstacles that are expected to impact companies in 2020.

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