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6 Simple Retention Strategies to Keep Your Best & Brightest Employees

Posted March 3, 2017 by Kristin Hoppe in Running a Business 101
Worried about losing top talent at your company or small business? Here are six proven employee retention strategies you need to implement today.

A high rate of employee attrition is a pain for employers everywhere. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employers will spend “the equivalent six to nine months of an employee’s salary in order to find and train their replacement.”

High staff turnover may also damage employee morale and make it hard to keep the momentum and healthy communication going within the organization.

So, how should your company retain talent? Your best employee retention strategy will be three-pronged:

  1. Address your company’s values and culture;
  2. Hire and onboard the right people; and
  3. Keep those people happy and challenged once they come on board.

You may have noticed that two of those three steps involve improving retention before an employee even starts at your company. As it turns out, laying a strong company foundation is your best defense against employee attrition in the long run.

How to Retain Employees

This post will walk you through how to retain employees with a proactive mindset, and in a way that will engage your existing employees as well.

Decide On Your Company Values From the Start

Employees are more likely to stay if they receive clear expectations from the start. The first way you can lay the foundation for healthy expectations is by defining your company values.

Company values go beyond what you and your employees have in common. To determine your company’s values, ask yourself questions like: What is the mission of your business? What expectations do you have around taking on big projects? How do you want your employees to collaborate with others? Companies like Zappos, for example, values building open relationships and being humble, whereas Justworks values compassion and simplicity.

Whatever drives your company, declaring your values will bring the best candidates to the job who also want to stay long term. Your employees will be like to stay longer because they’ve found a company that shares the same values. We’ve written about the six steps to defining your company values, which include asking your team questions and looking at the larger mission of your company.

Hire for the Right Fit

Once you’ve defined your company values, invest in comprehensive interview training with a company like Recruiting Toolbox. Company-wide training will give your current employees the skills to find colleagues who are the best fit for the company. And once they’re armed with top-notch interviewing skills, finding the candidates who display the potential to commit to your company for the long-term will keep your employee attrition rate lower than before.

Offer a Robust Onboarding Process

Once your new candidates make it through the interviewing gauntlet, onboarding is another crucial step to ensuring long-term success for your employees.

In fact, according to SHRM, an employee who attends a well-structured orientation program is 69% more likely to stay at the company for up to three years. Additionally, 23% of employees who left a company reported they might have stayed if they received more clear guidelines on responsibilities at the beginning.

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Long story short, creating a smooth onboarding process is key to weeding out staff turnover. Justworks has an employee onboarding checklist here that details some of the ways to accomplish a smooth transition, including preparing the employee workspace, setting clear expectations, and offering a warm welcome.

Related article: [Infographic] Use Our New Hire Checklist to Keep Compliant

Invest in a Vibrant, Happy Culture

Simply put, happy employees equate a lower staff turnover. A study by iOpener Institute found that a happy employee stays twice as long in their job than their unhappy counterparts.

Many people assume that salary is highly correlated with levels of employee happiness, but that’s only part of the story. For example, a joint study by Justworks and SquareFoot found that 42% of employees would take a lower-paying job if it offered a greater degree of workplace flexibility.

Perks and benefits are certainly a great way to attract talent, but we’ve also come up with 109 ways to increase employee retention on a budget. These include all kinds of fun, free, or low-cost activities that will boost employee happiness and retention. Some of the groups include:

  • Health and well-being
  • Professional development
  • Knowledge building
  • Recognition and “thank yous”
  • A welcoming office space
  • Day-to-day highlights
  • Onsite & offsite team building

You can check out the 109 ideas eBook here.

Start an Employee Recognition Program

Along with employee happiness, appreciating your team or creating an employee recognition program is just one of many ways to keep people happy and on board. With recognition programs in particular, your employees will have the chance to lift each other up and look at the positive aspects of the company.

At Justworks, we have two quarterly awards we give out: Sans Frontières, which rewards employees who work the best across company departments; and Two Ducks in a Bucket, which highlights employees who saw a problem or opportunity and went out of their way to take care of it.

Employers will spend the equivalent six to nine months of an employee’s salary in order to find and train their replacement.

No matter what rewards you choose to offer, employees who feel like they’re adding value to the company are more likely to stay. Here are just a few resources that you might find helpful:

  • 5 Steps for Starting an Employee Recognition Program at Your Business
  • 10 Delightful Employee Reward and Recognition Ideas
  • Try These 7 Straightforward Employee Rewards
  • 3 Employee Incentives to Improve Work Performance
  • Brighten Your Office’s Day-to-Day with 15 Employee Appreciation Ideas
  • Seek Out Feedback on Employee Happiness

    As Justworks’ Director of Employee Success Erika Cartagena put it, “People only really fill out these surveys because they feel like they’ll be heard and it can make a difference.”

    For feedback that makes a difference, make sure your employee happiness survey has a mix of open-ended questions and satisfaction numbers on a scale. You can also track the quantitative answers over time to get a pulse for how the company is feeling.

    Offering a survey on the condition of anonymity will also encourage employees to be honest about how they feel.

    Once you conduct an employee happiness survey, you can act on direct feedback and launch effective employee engagement strategies to keep your best and brightest around. Justworks has written about how we approach employee happiness surveys. Here are the steps we usually take:

    1. Select survey questions that reflect your company values
    2. Arrange a schedule and decide how often you will conduct the survey (ie, quarterly or annually)
    3. Lay out the ground rules around confidentiality and anonymity
    4. Decide how to distribute and store the survey
    5. Send out reminders to increase your survey response rate
    6. Record and analyze the results, including your Net Promoter Score (NPS)
    7. Present your findings to the company and show how you’re working to improve on the tough spots

    If you want to start out with an easy-to-use template, you can download an employee happiness survey in .docx form here.

    Conclusion

    Some employees are bound to leave, regardless of how wonderful your company is. People leave their jobs for a variety of reasons, from diverging interests in professional pursuits to personal reasons like moving out of state.

    But by taking a proactive approach and building a solid culture, hiring, and onboarding process, your quality employees will likely be happy to stick around for even longer.

    This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.