Keeping valued employees onboard is top-of-mind for many organizations these days. But what kind of employee retention strategies are actually working?
To find out, we asked numerous HR and business leaders to tell us which methods are making a difference for their workforce. And they responded with a variety of answers worth considering. Here are 9 of the best ideas we received:
- Actively Support Employee Mental Health
- Invest in Employee Growth
- Invite Family Members to Team Events
- Support Employee Sabbaticals
- Assign an Employee Partner for Each New Hire
- Create a Culture of Trust and Connection
- Offer a Generous PTO and Benefits Policy
- Build Meaningful Onboarding Connections
- Provide Professional Development Opportunities
To learn more about how your organization can make the most of these employee retention strategies, read the full responses below…
9 Effective Employee Retention Strategies
1. Actively Support Employee Mental Health
One of the most powerful ways we have improved our retention rate is by proactively supporting employee mental health. We make workplace wellbeing a priority by encouraging mindfulness and reminding people to take short mental health breaks every day.
To ensure our employees benefit from improved wellbeing, we’ve also brought in trainers to teach various mindfulness exercises. These simple improvements have been easy to implement. Yet, they’ve helped our employees become happier and more engaged at work. This, in turn, has led to increased retention.
2. Invest in Employee Growth
To help retain our best talent, we provide ongoing internal and external opportunities for career growth.
For each position in every department, we publish clear, open-source career ladders. And we offer programs that help each employee develop skills and competencies needed to become a subject expert at their current level or qualify for success at the next level.
These opportunities include a robust Skill Enhancement and Employee Development (SEED) program for individual contributors, and a rich Leadership Essentials and Development (LEAD) program for people leaders. These are cohort-based programs we offer twice a quarter. In conjunction with other social learning activities, these programs improved our retention rate by 28% in the second half of 2022.
On the external development front, we offer a Be Your Best Self program that lets employees spend up to $1,500 a year on certifications, conferences and other activities in line with their professional goals. This initiative elevated our retention by 13% in the second half of last year.
3. Invite Family Members to Team Events
Rather than hosting happy hours and team events for “employees only,” we invite spouses and children, too.
In addition to helping employees get to know their colleagues better, this is an excellent way for families to become familiar with colleagues their wife, husband, partner, mother or father works with each day. This means family members can put faces to names during future at-home conversations about work.
What’s more, these informal family relationships often help employees become much closer. Sometimes, colleagues’ family members become friends, as well. All of this leads to a much happier workplace that employees hesitate to leave.
4. Support Employee Sabbaticals
Effective work-life balance isn’t just a distant goal to achieve. It’s a reality we are all continuously managing and renegotiating. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the life component suddenly takes precedence. That’s when an employee must radically rebalance key priorities.
By offering extended time away through sabbatical leave, you provide significant reassurance. Should the worst happen, employees know they can take time away from work without risking their employment status.
Similarly, if a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arises, such as long-term traveling, studying, or focusing on personal growth, people know a formal mechanism is in place to support them.
Some of our organization’s most engaged and loyal employees have taken sabbatical leave multiple times. Even those who haven’t exercised their right to a sabbatical think highly of the option. They appreciate the fact that we offer flexibility, should the need arise.
5. Assign an Employee Partner for Each New Hire
Whenever you’re expanding your team, think about group dynamics. Sometimes when you hire new staff for positions that are similar to others’ roles, members of your team will feel scared. They may assume you’re looking to replace them when that’s not the case.
To ease any tension or anxiety, ask existing employees to team-up with new people on relevant projects. Give them responsibility for delegating tasks to the new hires, so they feel included and empowered to make onboarding more successful.
This helps existing staff feel more control over the situation. They’ll also pick up on the fact that you need more resources to manage a growing workload. By recognizing this is an investment in everyone’s success, existing staff should feel more secure in their positions. This also means they’ll be less likely to look elsewhere out of fear.
6. Create a Culture of Trust and Connection
We’ve found that one of the most effective ways to keep employees is to focus on building a culture based on trust and connection. This doesn’t happen overnight. But it can make a huge impact over time.
We started by implementing weekly team meetings where people from different departments discuss issues or challenges we’re facing. This opens lines of communication among team members. Everyone is welcome to share ideas for improvement. It’s also a forum to discuss what has worked in the past or could work in the future. This creates an active dialogue around innovation that encourages employees to grow professionally.
These regular meetings give us a chance to build stronger relationships through group problem solving. They also help us develop mutual understanding, while recognizing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. Plus, we have an opportunity to celebrate individual and collective successes.
7. Offer a Generous PTO and Benefits Policy
Because our entire team works remotely, we have to make sure the work people do is more valuable to them than the work they would otherwise be doing in a more traditional setting. That’s why we offer 38 days of PTO (personal time off) each year, as well as private healthcare stipends employees can use to maintain their mental and physical health.
Similar companies typically don’t offer any of these benefits. That’s why we stand out among competitors. It helps us recruit strong talent, and ultimately it means employees stay with us longer, as well.
8. Build Meaningful Onboarding Connections
Our organization invests in multiple policies and programs to improve employee retention. One stand-out initiative is our structured onboarding plan, which includes intentional workforce integration activities such as team-building exercises and networking events.
We believe strong retention really begins on Day One. So, by introducing every new hire to the company culture, we can help people more quickly feel comfortable in their roles. This has led to increased overall engagement across the organization. It has also helped improve job satisfaction and reduce turnover.
9. Provide Professional Development Opportunities
One of the best ways to keep people engaged in their jobs is to provide opportunities for professional growth. It not only helps employees learn new skills, but also demonstrates that your organization wants to invest in their growth and development.
This could include internal or external training programs, mentorship opportunities, tuition reimbursement programs, or a combination of these options. For example you can provide funding for people to attend relevant conferences or networking events, so they can develop a broader range of professional relationships skills in your industry. This not only helps build a more knowledgeable and competent workforce, but also improves retention.