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14 Expert Tips to Improve Your Employee Retention Rates

Written by Ellen Zhang on May 18, 2018
7 min read

Get tips from 14 human resources and "people" experts on how to achieve a better employee retention rate at your organization.
Employee retention rate is an extremely important metric of concern to businesses of all sizes. High retention rates are a sign of low turnover and employee satisfaction; while low retention rates are often red flags for potential new hires. Here are some tips we gathered from people experts to help you improve and maintain your employee retention rates.

1. Great managers are critical for employee retention.

“People leave managers and supervisors more often than they leave companies or jobs. It is not enough that the supervisor is well-liked or a nice person. The supervisor has a critical role to play in retention, starting with clear expectations of the employee. Anything the supervisor does to make an employee feel undervalued will contribute to turnover.” - Susan M. Heathfield

Susan Heathfield is a Human Resources expert. She is a consultant who specializes in HR issues and in management development to create forward-thinking workplaces. Susan is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and contributes regularly to professional publications. Follow her on Twitter here: @susanheathfield. Read the original post.

2. Don't just rely on exit interviews to learn more about employee retention. Try asking new hires about what they've enjoyed about their work and their outside passions.

“Too often, managers don’t know enough about what work people enjoy. It spills out in exit interviews — a standard practice in every HR department to find out why talented people are leaving and what would have convinced them to stick around. But why wait until they’re on their way out the door? One of us, Adam, has worked with companies in multiple industries to design entry interviews. In the first week on the job, managers sit down with their new hires and ask them about their favorite projects they’ve done, the moments when they’ve felt most energized at work, the times when they’ve found themselves totally immersed in a state of flow, and the passions they have outside their jobs. Armed with that knowledge, managers can build engaging roles from the start.” - Lori Goler, Janelle Gale, Brynne Harrington, and Adam Grant

Lori Goler is the head of People at Facebook. Janelle Gale is the head of HR Business Partners at Facebook. Brynn Harrington leads the People Growth team at Facebook. Adam Grant is a professor at Wharton and the author of Originals and Give and Take. View the original Harvard Business Review (HBR) article here.

3. Allow your employees opportunities to grow in the way they want to.

“Give Your Employees Options. On-the-job training opportunities are great but you should be helping your employees to grow and expand, not simply get better at what they already do. If your training centers completely on increasing performance in a current role, you’re not doing all you can for your employees. Consider cross-training and mentorship programs. Create a leadership ladder that can help individuals earn the skills they need to move up. Good employees (the ones who are dedicated to your company—the ones you really want to keep) want the opportunity to advance, not just maintain momentum.” - Chad Halvorson

Chad is the Co-Founder and CEO of When I Work, a free employee scheduling software. Follow Chad on Twitter here: @chadworks. Read Chad's article.

4. Utilize job analysis audits to provide realistic job previews for both candidates and managers to set proper expectations.

Conduct job analysis audits to provide realistic job previews. Conduct job analysis audits with behavioral assessments, cognitive reasoning assessments, job simulations, and hard skills assessments (i.e., computer skills, etc.) to objectively define the core competencies required for success in each role (competency modeling). This helps in providing a realistic job preview for candidates and managers. Often, what managers think they need for a certain role is different from what they actually need.” - Mike Poskey

Mike Poskey played a key role in the formation of ZERORISK HR and is President of the firm. With more than 20 years of human resources consulting and strategic planning experience, Mike has worked with hundreds of chief executive officers, presidents, senior executives, and recruiting, staffing, training, and organizational development professionals to improve their hiring practices and employee development programs on various levels. Follow his firm's Twitter account here: @ZeroRiskHR. Read his full article here.

5. Pay fairly. Pay competitively.

Offer better compensation. The one consistent truth across every type of worker, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or geography, is that compensation is king for both recruiting and retention. If you don’t pay employees fairly, they will leave—and no perk will change their mind. A poll by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair found that the best way to keep an employee motivated is money, and 35% of respondents said it was the most important thing they look for in a new job.” - Dan Schawbel

Dan is a New York Times bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, Fortune 500 consultant, TV personality, keynote speaker, career and workplace expert & startup advisor. Follow his Twitter handle: @danschawbel. Read his Fortune article here.

6. Train your employees on new technologies and techniques.

Offer Training. Entrepreneur recommends that “you should offer skills enhancement to all your workers.” Why? “New technology, new selling techniques, changes in employment laws, and the huge impact of the internet are all compelling reasons to keep permanent employees in the loop.” - Steve Olenski

Steve is the Senior Creative Strategist for the Oracle Marketing Cloud. He also contributes to Forbes & Huffington Post. Follow him on Twitter here: @steveolenski. Read the rest of his tips here.

7. Extra benefits such as employee wellness programs can make a huge difference.

“Health Perks. According to the Harvard Business Review, employee wellness programs should be seen as a strategic move, and not just a benefit. Healthy employees cost you less and they work harder. Not only that, they’re happier and they’re more likely to form bonds with co-workers.” - Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica is the Founder of Workology, a workplace resource for the disruptive business leader. The community has been recognized twice by Forbes as a top 50 career resource. Jessica is the president and CEO of Xceptional HR, a human capital strategy and consulting agency, and a published author of Tweet This! and The HR Technology Field Guide. She has more than 15 years of experience having worked with companies including Whole Foods, AT&T, OfficeMax and the Chickasaw Nation. Follow her on Twitter: @jmillermerrell. Read her original post.

8. Communicate with transparence about the state of the company.

Be Transparent. A strategy that is often feared by leaders, but can drastically increase retention and employee loyalty when done correctly, is transparency. Be transparent about how your company is succeeding, provide clarity on what can be improved, recognize who had a direct impact and offer direct data to support the claims. Leaders who speak to employees on these topics can secure a tenured workforce.” - Sarah O'Neill

Sarah is the VP of HR & Administration for humano, a third-party logistics provider. Follow her on Twitter: @HRinHeelsLLC. Read her full article on Forbes.

9. Pay close attention during screenings to make sure you hire the right employees.

Hire the Right Employees. As you're screening candidates, pay close attention to signs that you may have a job-hopper. While there's nothing wrong with someone switching jobs if it provides career advancement, look for someone who is interested in growing with your company rather than getting experience to take somewhere else.” - John Rampton

John is an entrepreneur and investor. He is the founder of online payment company Due. Known as a connector, Rampton was ranked No. 2 in Entrepreneur magazine's Top 50 Online Influencers in the World. Follow him on Twitter here: @johnrampton. Read his full Inc article.

10. Identify employee stressors and aim to help relieve them.

“Look for stressors, and train leaders on how to help employees in stressful positions.” - Bill Conerly

Bill is a Forbes contributor. He began as a corporate economist (PG&E, Nerco, First Interstate Bank) and then entered consulting, helping business leaders connect the dots between the economy and business decisions. He is the longest-tenured member of the Oregon Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, chairman of the board of Cascade Policy Institute and senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. Follow him on Twitter: @billconerly. Read his full Forbes article here.

11. Do good. Promote giving back to the community as an organization.

“Research shows that involving employees in social causes is an effective way for a company to align with its employees’ values, thereby differentiating itself from competitors and boosting retention at the same time. This is especially true for millennial employees, who tend to change jobs more frequently than employees from other age groups and who want to work for employers that support the issues they care about, but it can be applied to people of all ages and backgrounds.” - Karen Leies

Karen is the Vice President of Development at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. She oversees all of the FoodBank’s philanthropic programs. Karen was previously Senior Director of Development and Special Events at New York City Ballet. She also served as Vice President of Development of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and as Director of Development at Lincoln Center. Follow the Community FoodBank on Twitter here: @CFBNJ. Read her full post here.

12. Treat your employees like they're more than just people on your payroll.

Trust your employees like they’re family. I don’t mean trust that they’ll pay you back for the $20 you let them borrow at the casino 3 months ago. And I’m not talking about the trust it takes to open up and spill your soul. I’m talking about the trust it takes to give them something important to figure out, knowing that it’s going to be ok.” - Dave Will

Dave is the Co-Founder and CEO of PropFuel, a platform aimed at maximizing employee engagement. Follow him on Twitter here: @propsdave. Read his Hubspot article here.

13. Ensure your employees can find a good work-life balance.

Work-life balance — What message is your company culture sending? If staff are expected to regularly work long hours and be at your beck and call, you'll likely run into issues with employee retention. Burnout is very real. A healthy work-life balance is essential, and people need to know that management understands its importance. Encourage staff to take vacation time, and if late nights are necessary to wrap up a project, see if you can offer late arrivals or an extra day off to compensate and increase job satisfaction. Many companies offer telecommuting or flexible schedules to improve work-life balance for their employees.” - The Robert Half Blog

Robert Half is a human resource consulting firm that offers staffing and hiring solutions. They connect employers and job seekers to staff positions in finance, law, technology and more. Follow Robert Half on Twitter here: @roberthalf. Read the original post.

14. Provide opportunities for employees to get to know each other beyond work.

Socialization. Turnover is often high among new employees. Research has shown that socialization practices—delivered via a strategic onboarding and assimilation program—can help new hires become embedded in the company and thus more likely to stay. These practices include shared and individualized learning experiences, formal and informal activities that help people get to know one another, and the assignment of more seasoned employees as role models for new hires.” - Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest professional association of HR pros, representing 285,000 members in more than 165 countries. For nearly 70 years, SHRM has been the leading provider of resources serving the needs of HR professionals and advancing the practice of human resource management. Follow them on Twitter here: @SHRM. Read their full post and get their toolkit here.

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Ellen Zhang

Ellen is the Chief Marketing Officer at Symba. Prior to Symba, Ellen worked in the cybersecurity industry, marketing data loss prevention (DLP) and cyber insurance solutions. She graduated from Boston College with a degree focused on Marketing and Information Systems.

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