15 Employee Retention Strategies for Keeping Top Talent

Keep your employees happy with flexibility, strong communication, and an inclusive environment.

15 Employee Retention Strategies for Keeping Top Talent
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
UPDATED BY
Brennan Whitfield | Apr 18, 2024
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People are at the heart of a company’s success — so it’s critical for businesses to invest into retention strategies to keep their employees from leaving. Below, we look at 15 employee retention strategies designed to help companies keep their top talent.

Employee Retention Strategies

  1. Create a positive workplace culture
  2. Compensate well
  3. Offer robust benefits
  4. Support employee wellness
  5. Provide flexible work arrangements when possible
  6. Invest in strong leadership
  7. Communicate and be transparent
  8. Prioritize mentorship and employee support groups
  9. Let employees be heard
  10. Recognize good work
  11. Share constant feedback with employees
  12. Encourage career growth at the company
  13. Give continuous learning opportunities
  14. Use the latest tools and technology
  15. Build a diverse work environment

 

What Is Employee Retention? 

Employee retention is a company’s efforts to keep talent by fostering a positive work environment that prevents talent from wanting to leave their jobs.

“Strong employee retention is key to company productivity and the morale of current staff,” said Leslie Tarnacki, senior vice president of human resources at WorkForce Software. “If team members see high turnover, they may begin to question why others are leaving and be tempted themselves to look elsewhere.” 

A company’s retention rate is calculated by dividing the number of employees on the last day of a given time period by the number of employees on the first day.
 

Free Guide: What Does it Take to Retain a Remote Workforce?

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15 Employee Retention Strategies

1. Create a Positive Workplace Culture

Workplaces that offer work-life balance and a supportive environment for employees stand to keep talent around longer. Employees want to feel valued and trusted in their work.

“One of the best retention strategies is to provide a healthy culture in which employees feel trusted and empowered and have the flexibility to manage the right work-life balance for themselves and their families,” Tarnacki said. 

If an employee doesn’t fit with a company’s culture, they’re more likely to leave the organization.

 

2. Compensate Well

Employees desire salaries that are competitive with the market rates and reflective of their experience.

“Top employees want to receive quality equitable pay based on their skills, experience and educational portfolio,” said Timothy Brown, director of people and culture at Nimble Talent

Conducting market analysis will help a company to understand if their salary offerings are fair.

“You always want to make sure that they feel like they’re getting the best bang for their buck,” Brown said. “We ensure that it’s done by doing market analysis throughout the year and making sure that we’re staying on top of our game as far as on our HR side to provide those competitive salaries for employees.”

 

3. Offer Robust Benefits

Comprehensive healthcare, generous paid time off and strong retirement matching are baseline benefits that employees care about when considering job opportunities. WorkForce Software offers employees additional benefits like half-day Fridays in the summer and remote work in an effort to retain its talent base. 

At Nimble Talent, the company surveys its employees to find out what benefits matter most to them, and the company will go to market to get more competitive benefit offerings when needed.

“That’s all based on what are the employees saying? What do they need?” Brown said. “One of the biggest things that we’re focusing on now is just revamping our overall insurance plans.”

 

4. Support Employee Wellness 

Offering benefits to support both employees’ physical and mental health is crucial to a person’s overall well being. Some companies provide health and wellness reimbursements or subsidize health expenses like gym memberships and equipment.

Companies can offer mental health benefits, too, like therapy support or mental health app subscriptions to help with stress relief. Emergency financial assistance or employee assistance programs can also make the difference in how an employee feels about their job. 

 

5. Provide Flexible Work Arrangements

Employees often want work schedules and workplace arrangements that allow them to succeed both in their personal and professional lives. Remote work and flexible schedules are common benefits offered at tech companies. 

“Providing employees with flexibility and purpose not only improves their quality of life, but also increases their productivity in the workplace, which is key to retention,” Tarnacki said. 

For example, some parents might desire a job where they can leave work a little early in order to pick up their children from school. Other employees might be seeking remote work in order to travel and work from different locations.

 

6. Invest in Strong Leadership

Employees want to work at companies where they feel they can trust their leaders — from the C-suite down to their direct manager. Oftentimes, an employee will leave a job because of a bad boss.

“We have an open door policy, so all employees can come to me and chat about anything, whether it’s work-related or personal, and it will be treated in confidence,” said Gareth Hoyle, managing director of Marketing Signals. “It’s imperative that senior members of staff ensure that they’re not an absent manager.”

 

7. Communicate and Be Transparent

Employees who feel in the dark about their employer’s direction or the stability of the company might be inclined to leave. 

Frequent and open communication from all-staff meetings to manager check-ins help an employee understand the outlook for the business.

“Scheduling one-on-one meetings with a preset agenda, skip-level meetings for business updates and having consistent communication methods such as weekly, monthly, quarterly newsletters and corporate meetings allow employees to stay in the know and make informed decisions concerning their career future,” Brown said. 

 

8. Prioritize Mentorship and Employee Resource Groups

Create opportunities for mentorship within your company so employees can learn from each other and have an ally in their career growth. 

Employee resource groups also allow employees with shared backgrounds or life experiences to support and learn from each other. ERGs are places where employees can “be their authentic self and build trust with people and feel safe at work,” Sasha Robinson, head of people operations at Trainual, previously told Built In.

 

9. Let Employees Be Heard 

Employees want to know that their work and ideas are making a difference at their company.

“Employees need to feel recognized and heard, and leaders must make sure they’re fostering an environment where people feel like they can make mistakes, learn from them and share ideas without judgment,” Tarnacki said. 

Brown said that will lead to great results: “If you’re listening to what they’re saying, responding to them and having them really have that seat at the table for them to be able to speak, you’re going to have a bunch of star employees.”

 

10. Recognize Good Work

If an employee feels under-appreciated in their work, that might push them to leave for another job. Employees want to be recognized for their good work — whether it’s through providing praise, career growth opportunities or compensation reflective of their hard work.

“It’s really top down and side to side, so we want to ensure that our employees are rewarding and recognizing each other but also that our leadership is making sure that they see what the individual employees are doing and that we call out those wonderful positive things as well,” Brown said. 

 

11. Share Constant Feedback with Employees

In addition to being praised for their hard work, employees want to hear feedback — both positive and constructive — in order to succeed in their roles. Feedback from across the organization, not just their direct supervisor, is helpful too. 

“Whether they’re talking to their day-to-day manager within Nimble Talent or their manager within the organization that they’re functioning in or even talking to our executive leadership, we thrive on consistent feedback,” Brown said.

More on People Management11 Ways to Improve Employee Work Performance

 

12. Encourage Career Growth at the Company 

In addition to providing feedback about their work, managers should also be frequently speaking with their employees about their career goals. If there are opportunities for an employee to grow at their current employer, be sure to make them aware of those pathways. If an employee doesn’t see themselves continuing to grow at their employer, that might push them to leave.

“Learning and development opportunities, succession planning, professional growth structure and management of employee expectations can be the determining factor for retaining top talent,” Brown said.

 

13. Give Continuous Learning Opportunities

Companies should invest in constant professional development opportunities for employees, whether that’s online learning to workshops or group training.

Learning stipends typically allow employees to purchase conference registrations, classes, software and learning materials to help them learn new skills or advance in an area of the job. 

 

14. Use the Latest Tools and Technology

Don’t make an employee’s work harder than it has to be by keeping antiquated tools or sticking with inefficient processes just because time and money have already been invested in them.

“In an industry that is continuously evolving, employees value organizations that keep up with technology advancements and provide opportunities to continue their education,” said Gina Hartigan, chief people officer at Kantata.

Using modern software and tech tools can play a significant role in how an employee feels about their work, and ultimately, whether or not they’ll stay long-term.

 

15. Build a Diverse Work Environment

Employers need to make concrete efforts to not only diversify their workforces but to create environments that are safe and supportive for people of all backgrounds  — from inclusive educational opportunities to employee resource groups. 

“An intentional strategy for diversity and inclusion is a must for high performers and should not only be focused on the top executive level,” Brown said. “Diversity and inclusion should be ingrained into the organizational culture and encouraged through all levels of the organization.”

To create an inclusive workplace environment, companies should also prioritize feedback from employees, mentorship and resource groups, as well as workshops and training around topics like reducing hiring bias or creating a safe work environment. 

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Why Is Employee Retention Important? 

When an employee leaves a company, they often take institutional knowledge with them, and the company will need to dedicate time to getting a replacement up to speed. Retaining employees helps a company to grow faster by having consistency of talent, and creating a supportive environment allows a company to benefit from the work of high performers for as long as possible.

“Retention is important for keeping a company moving forward and for that organization to make strides within its respective industry,” Tarnacki said. “When it comes to retention, the onus is largely on HR teams and all business leaders to make sure a company maintains a positive culture, that employees feel valued and that they understand and recognize the impact they have on the business’ results.”

Retaining talent saves companies both time and money. Searching for new talent can be an expensive process, with the Society of Human Resource Management estimating that recruiting a new employee costs an average of $4,683 per hire. Research from Kantata shows that senior executives at professional services organizations spend 40 percent of their time each day dealing with employee turnover, and 53 percent struggle with hiring full-time employees. 

 

Benefits of Employee Retention 

Companies benefit from increased morale and better team dynamics when their employees stay. When a company faces heavy turnover, there’s a tendency for other employees to start thinking of leaving, which takes a toll on the company culture.

“Employee retention is one of the main foundations that you should incorporate into your overall organizational culture, and it should be intentional. It should not be an afterthought,” said Brown. 

Retaining employees allows companies to be more productive and able to dedicate their time and resources to work that will grow the business, versus spending lots of time and money on recruiting replacements.

 

Free Calculator: Employee Retention Rate

Use our template to seamlessly calculate your own employee retention rate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Examples of employee retention strategies include:

  • Creating a positive and inclusive workplace environment
  • Offering comprehensive salary and benefits 
  • Supporting employee wellness
  • Encouraging communication and transparency among employees
  • Fostering employee growth and continuous learning opportunities

To retain employees, HR can work to provide competitive compensation and benefits packages, offer employee growth opportunities and prioritize employee wellbeing. HR may also gather routine feedback to ensure employee voices are heard and applied to make workplace decisions.

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