5 Employee Retention Strategies to Consider

We’ve all experienced it. That heartbreaking and awkward moment when a tenured employee walks into your office and drops a two weeks notice.  It’s the “It’s not you, it’s me” of the business world. And like the ending of other relationships, there’s plenty of emotion around it.

Deep down, you’re thinking, "Two weeks?!  It’s going to take two years to get a competent replacement.” And in most cases, the employee isn’t even allowed to work the two weeks--HR just says “Thanks” and shows them the door.  Meanwhile, you’re left there shorthanded, scratching your head saying, “Why did this happen!"


Before you know it, you're left to wonder what sort of employee retention strategies might be in order. And not the kind that's essentially an "in case of emergency, break glass" process. You need concrete plans. Most of all, you might need to tweak certain processes to both satisfy employee morale and keep overall productivity around the office in good standing.

So what constitutes an effective employee retention strategy then? Here are five ideas to consider.

Promote From Within

One reason employees leave is due to lack of professional development. They're asking themselves the question, “What’s my next career move?” and if they can’t find the answer with you, they look elsewhere. Almost every year-end survey done by the likes of either Gallup, the Society for Human Resource Management and others shows employees want the opportunity to move up. For example, a 2012 Randstad survey revealed around 86% of employees considered leaving their jobs due to a lack of career development.

You cannot afford to wait on promoting top performers. Nor can you forget to apply specific training measures to improve their skills even further. Saying that you’re a company that promotes from within is one thing; acting on it is another.

Take a long, hard look at your team and determine who's capable of moving up the ladder.  If you identify someone that lacks upward mobility, identify what they need to make a move. Who can make one move? Who can take two moves up? Who can replace you when you win the lottery?

Analyze Assignments and Job Challenges

CareerBuilder conducted a survey about job factors employees consider valuable. The results showed that 35 percent said challenging work is important. Before you look around and wonder who gets what, analyze the quality and volume of assignments you're doling out. If you're burdening them with too much, ease up on the gas. Conversely, if it's a challenge they seek and you're lulling them to sleep with mundane tasks, rectify the situation through more responsibilities.

Take The Company Pulse

How do you feel about coming to work every day?

It’s the most basic question to ask as you look at employee engagement. As a manager you must be attentive to employee morale. You should be able to determine if you think someone is so unhappy that they are looking outside the company. During your next 1-on-1, ask what motivates them, what makes them happy or what they are proud of?

If you are truly managing your team for growth and development and have tried to provide as much support as possible, you should not be surprised if someone turns in their notice.

Be Clear With Company Goals

A study by Chris Zook of Bain & Company revealed only 40 percent of the workforce truly knows what the company’s goals and strategies are. Does your team know how much they're connected to the company’s plans? If not, employees won’t have a clue as to what benefit they're offering the company in their role, making it easier for them to jump ship.

Employee Recognition

A study conducted in 2012 revealed that 23 percent of employees who received recognition on the job say they plan to search for a new job. Compare that to 51 percent who have never been recognized.  Employees need to feel appreciated for a job well done.

Most companies have a structured recognition program in place to award years of service.  That’s not enough. Your top performers are not going to feel rooted in a company that gives them a crystal award for just being there for five years.  How's that award tie for ten years of service holding up? Not well, probably.


What sort of recognition programs do you have for your top performers?  Are you linking their accomplishments and goals with a recognition program that provides true value and is unique enough to resonate with everyone in the office?

Final Thoughts

Overall, you need to demonstrate that you are actively interested in retaining your top performers with growth opportunities, work that inspires, and worthwhile benefits. There may still be some who see all these improvements and still decide that a change will do them good... and that’s OK. That’s life in the business world!

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