9 Actionable Employee Retention Strategies for Your Top Performers

on employee retention


Why should you be looking at fresh employee retention strategies? We all know by now that staff turnover can have major financial and operational consequences for a company. The high cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new talent is only one issue. Other employees have to pick up the slack during your search and that can mean having to pay overtime and deal with the dissatisfaction and disengagement in the affected workers. At best, productivity slows down and at worst it comes to a screeching halt.

If you think that you’re already doing plenty for your employees and that means you don’t have to worry about them leaving, think again. According to research, 3 million Americans quit their jobs each month to look for new opportunities. In one survey, a staggering 31% of respondents have quit their jobs before six months and in another, 43% of the 2,000 employees surveyed said they were looking for new jobs because of problematic culture.

That’s a lot of churn. Obviously, some employees are more easily replaceable than others, but they’re not the focus of this post. Today we want to talk about your workers with mission-critical skills, the ones who’ve filled a niche you never knew was empty, and those who are so good at what they do that replacing them would be nearly impossible. Why them? Because highly talented employees who are not engaged are the most likely to leave when presented with another opportunity—or begin searching for new full-time opportunities.

The fact is that your decision to explore new employee retention strategies will benefit your entire workforce, but in turn your company will benefit as well when those strategies keep your top performers more engaged and thus more likely to stick around.

It’s Time to Change the Way You Look at Employee Retention

Below, we’re going to share our favorite employee retention strategies. Some of them have been a big hit here at Blink while others might be more effective for workers in your industry. We’ve included a number of strategies because there’s no one size fits all solution to turnover. Trial and error can help you determine which employee retention strategies will be the most beneficial at your company.

That said, the biggest benefits package and all the perks in the world will never make up for a workplace culture that is lacking in empathy or appreciation. When employees feel like they are easily replaceable commodities instead of valuable members of a team, they have no reason to be loyal or even invested in your company’s mission and/or vision statements.

One of the biggest factors in employee retention will be whether you care about workers and lift them up. Your employees have their own needs and goals, and you should be thinking in terms of how you can help them satisfy and achieve those while also working hard to help your company meet its goals. It’s not just about paying market rates (though that’s important, too). Employees need to know they’re being treated fairly, that they can grow in their roles, and that what they’re doing has value.

If that sounds like a tall order, that’s because it is. A lot of employee retention strategies focus on making employees happier. But when you’re thinking about how you can retain your most talented people, you have to look deeper at not just employee satisfaction, but also employee engagement.

Here are 9 actionable employee retention strategies that can help you reduce churn and keep top performers at your company where they belong.

Be Sure Your Salary and Benefits Packages are Competitive

While a paycheck won’t be the only reason your employees stick around, financial stability is a big deal. One Glassdoor survey found that 45% of employees who quit do so for reasons related to salary and benefits. In another survey, 56% of employees reported that good medical and dental insurance could motivate them to stay in a job. Clearly, paying a fair wage is one relatively easy way to retain great employees.

But let’s look at it another way. Paying a fair wage also benefits your company. You might be able to attract so-so employees who will work for less, but you run the risk of those employees doing less when they know they aren’t being paid a competitive salary. If you do find that rare employee who’s willing to put in 110% for less than they are worth, they may eventually be so stressed out by the state of their finances that they can’t concentrate on the job. Or maybe they’ll need to find a side hustle to make ends meet, and thus they’ll be so exhausted that their productivity decreases. The bottom line is that workers who aren’t stressing out about money or trying to juggle multiple jobs will always perform better.

Hire the Right Employees from the Beginning

If you’re hiring with the expectation that turnover is inevitable, then you’re going to find yourself facing a self-fulfilling prophecy because you’re probably not going to spend as much time looking for the right employee. There might be no such thing as a perfect hire but think about the fact that according to one Gallup poll, employees who feel like they’re using their strengths and abilities in a role are 15% less likely to quit.

So DON’T hire someone who is clearly a bad fit just to fill an empty position. DON’T hire job hoppers just because they have all the qualifications you’re looking for. DO look for employees who have the qualifications you’re looking for, a history of delivering value, and an attitude that suggests they’ll mesh well with current employees. DO be honest with candidates about the job itself and the challenges they’ll face in the role you’re hiring for. 37% of hiring managers surveyed by Glassdoor report that new employees would have stayed longer if they’d been given more information during the hiring process.

Don’t Neglect Orientation and Onboarding

Assuming that new hires can jump right into their roles because, hey, they’re qualified, is a recipe for churn. One of the easiest employee retention strategies you can implement right now is to set employees up for success from Day 1. First, create meaningful connections. During each new employee’s orientation, make sure they get to know the people they’ll be working with, so they feel comfortable reaching out to colleagues for the information they need.

Next, do whatever you can to ensure your onboarding process is smooth because a great new hire can end up feeling disengaged if onboarding becomes too tedious. You can automate the onboarding process with the Blink app so you never have to worry that new hires feel like they can’t contribute.

Launch a Mentor Program

Whether you’re focused on retaining fresh talent or keeping your veteran employees engaged, pairing less experienced workers with more experienced staff members is never a bad idea. Mentorship programs can deliver value in several ways. More senior employees will feel valued when they have the opportunity to share their expertise with new or less experienced workers. Your latest hires will learn the ropes faster and are less likely to feel disillusioned with their new positions when they have a mentor. Junior employees will see that there are opportunities for growth when they are invited to learn from senior employees.

Make an Effort to Reduce Employee Pain Points

No job is perfect, so there will always be some push/pull between a company and its employees. That said, your workforce is made up of human beings who can only thrive when they have some semblance of work-life balance. Burnout is a HUGE problem. Acknowledge that quality of life should extend into the workplace and think about when and where your employees are most likely to feel resentful of workplace demands.

Maybe workers feel like they have to be available 24/7, or they’re afraid that they’ll be penalized in some way for using earned PTO. It could be that sharing ideas has been frowned upon in the past. Or that promotion is always happening externally rather than internally. If you can find and address the pain points that lead to disengagement, chances are you’ll retain more of your top performers. One of the easiest ways to figure out what’s causing resentment is to send out an anonymous survey for employees to take. With Blink, you can easily create polls and surveys that make identifying pain points easier.

Create a Circle of Appreciation

This is a quick and simple employee retention strategy that has paid off big at successful companies like Zappos. Appreciation is a huge part of employee engagement, so why not show your best and brightest how valuable they truly are? Zappos has a co-worker bonus program that lets one employee nominate another employee for a $50 monthly bonus for almost any reason. It works as a retention strategy because not only does it mean there is a cash incentive to over-deliver (which most companies don’t offer), but also that employees are regularly shown how valuable they are. That matters—a lot!

According to one Lifeworks survey, a whopping 76% of workers who don’t feel valued on the job actively seek out other opportunities. Make praise a part of your company culture, and make sure your workforce has opportunities to applaud each other’s best work.

Be Open to Change When It Comes to Working Arrangements

One has to wonder how many women who’ve quit jobs after having children would have continued working if they’d been offered flextime, telecommuting, or part-time working arrangements. If you’re worried about lost productivity, consider that a study by FlexJobs found that 50% of workers said they were more productive outside of the office and 42% said they’d choose to telecommute over other perks so it is definitely something to consider for your office based staff who support your frontline workers.

Great employees who think they may need more flexibility in the future (because they’re going back to school, starting a family, or have an older relative to care for) will stick around if they know they can continue working while also fulfilling their personal obligations. If you’re still worried about lost productivity, using technology like Blink’s employee app will let you communicate, share, and collaborate with remote workers as if they were still in the office.

Think in Terms of Leadership vs. Management

Leaders are transparent. Make sure that your company vision is clear and that your employees know where the business is headed. When workers aren’t sure what’s coming down the pipe, they may be tempted to look for employment in what looks like a more stable environment. When leaders share information about where the company is headed and how challenges will be handled, employee stress goes down and your best workers will be less likely to jump ship when the going gets tough.

Leaders also believe in people. The managers at your company should understand that your employees are your business’ most valuable asset and do all they can to inspire your workforce to do a great job. Finally, leaders should be available to their employees, whether that means having regular office hours or using an employee app like Blink to answer employee questions as they arise.

Think Outside the Box

You know your most talented employees best, so what can you offer them that will make them feel engaged, inspired, and loyal? Maybe it’s special educational opportunities or conference passes. It could be you’ll get the most mileage out of making the path to advancement in your company clearer or making it a policy to promote from within.

Whatever you do to encourage employee retention, take it seriously. Make sure employees see that exceptional performance is valued and also rewarded. A thank you is okay, but a culture where workers get a tangible bonus when they over-deliver is even better when your goal is to reduce churn. Commit to acting on the feedback you receive from employees, even when it’s less than glowing. Workers who see that their concerns are taken seriously will stick with you through challenges.

Adopting some or all of these employee retention strategies (along with technology that empowers them like Blink) will ultimately pay off in many ways. Your company will lose less money to turnover, and that’s big, but you’ll also reduce knowledge loss, inspire higher levels of performance, and keep morale high. These benefits can lead to a snowball effect where you end up with not only less turnover, but also more of those top performers who make your company great.

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