7 Tips To Improve Employee Retention

From employee appreciation gifts to recognizing achievements, there is a lot you can do to boost your employee retention rates.

Being able to retain your top employees is especially important now. It’s hard to find good employees, and they’re more likely than ever before to job hop. 

With that in mind, the following is a guide to employee retention and how to improve it in your organization. 

What is Employee Retention?

The labor market is increasingly fast-moving and competitive. It’s critical for businesses to have a deep understanding of why employees go and stay. Employee turnover is defined as a loss of organizational talent over a time period. It’s a big issue for a lot of organizations, and there were a reported 42 million workers in the United States who voluntarily left their jobs in 2019. That number is much higher now. 

Employee retention is the ability of an organization to prevent the turnover of employees. This means you’re working on reducing how many people leave their jobs, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Retention has an impact directly on the success and performance of the business. 


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There are numerous benefits of retention, including cost reduction, the efficiency of recruitment and training, and increased productivity. 

Below are seven tips for improving retention. 

1. Celebrate Milestones

Show your employees that you care about them on a more personal level and that the things happening in their lives, perhaps even outside of work, is something that you recognize. For example, make it a habit to give small gifts of recognition on employees’ birthdays or when they’re celebrating a work anniversary. 

The gifts don’t have to be huge—just something to show that you are thinking about them and you recognize that they’re more than someone who works for you. 

2. Offer Incentives

Incentives are a way to reward and acknowledge employees for a job well done. Around 85% of employees say they’re more motivated to do their best when they’re offered an incentive. There are numerous ways to incentivize employees, and it doesn’t just mean money. Of course, raises and bonuses are appreciated, but so are things like profit-sharing or tuition reimbursement. 

You can also incentivize employees by doing things that promote their health, happiness, and well-being. You might offer rewards like subscriptions to fitness apps, or you could give your employees a stipend to spend on personal development. 

3. Manage with Retention in Mind

One of the most important factors that determine whether an employee stays or goes is the relationship they have with managers. Nearly half of employees leave their jobs because of a bad manager. Sixty percent of employees believe their managers need training, and only 26% of employees strongly agree manager feedback improves their performance, according to Gallup. 



A good manager and someone who’s working with retention in mind will act as a coach. They’re going to focus on making sure they’re getting the most productive value from their reports. 

A good manager is someone who’s assertive but optimistic. Managers should recognize the value of each employee while providing constructive, clear and actionable feedback. 

When a manager takes a coaching approach, it creates a sense of trust and team camaraderie. Good management and coaching can reduce stress, provide employees with autonomy and help set goals that are achievable. 

Employees with good managers know where they are and where they need to be. 

The coaching approach to management also takes into account the background of each individual employee and their strengths. 

4. Prevent Burnout

 Employee burnout is a major issue among American employees. Around 76% of employees say they’re experiencing burnout on the job. Symptoms and red flags of worker burnout include negative emotions, isolation, and a loss of energy. When employees become burned out, they’re much more likely to leave. 

Some of the ways an employer can help to combat burnout include giving more flexible hours to employees and setting clear, realistic expectations. 

Managers should be trained on how to identify signs of burnout, so they can help people proactively who might be on edge. 

You should encourage employees to use their available vacation time and explore their hobbies and interest. 

Ask your employees for regular feedback, too, so you can learn more about some of the direct root causes of burnout to figure out how to eliminate those. 

5. Foster a Positive Culture

Culture is what serves as a foundation of your employer’s brand. The overwhelming majority of employees consider company culture before they even apply for a job. Research from the Associated Press shows that almost half of employees would leave their current job for one that paid less if the company had a better culture. 

Good culture means that you’re going to reward and recognize those employees who showcase your corporate values each day. 

6. Provide Opportunities for Development

No one wants to feel stuck in any part of their life, including their job. If you have employees who don’t feel like they have opportunities for learning and development within their current company, they’re going to go elsewhere to find that. 

Thoroughly train employees, use coaching and mentorship programs, and create career paths. 

You might also reimburse employees for certification and continuing education programs, and you can have internal knowledge-sharing events where employees train one another. 

7. Have a Great Onboarding Program

Finally, the impression your employees have of what it’s like to work for you really begins with onboarding. It can take new employees up to two years to get the same level of productivity as longer-term employees. You want to make them feel comfortable at the start and give them everything they need to succeed in order to improve retention. 

Help your new employees shift to company insiders through education, access to needed resources, and maintaining an environment where they feel welcomed. Don’t overwhelm people with too much information right away. 

Your onboarding program should work more as a trickle. Set new hires up with a mentor or someone they can partner with one-on-one to learn the more nuanced aspects of working in the company and make sure your remote employees have equally robust onboarding opportunities. 

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"Dr. Harry Delany is a renowned Harlem born and raised surgeon, the son of the great jurist and civil rights leader, Hubert Delany...." This monthly post is made in partnership with Harlem Cultural Archives.

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