How to retain your top employees (and keep them happy!)

by Molly Johnston | Dec 01, 2022

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Retaining employees has always been difficult. But, it’s become even more of a challenge since the pandemic started to ease. Staff members started to prioritise their time after an unexpected break from their traditional 9-5 and began to view work differently. 

After entering a period dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’. workers now want more from their companies in terms of less explored avenues, such as a strong company culture, flexible working options, and a healthy work-life balance.

As you know, replacing any role will almost always cost more than retaining employees already in those positions. As a result, employers need to adopt more effective ways to retain their employees, especially with the increase in remote work opportunities. 

Attracting top performers can be tough, but finding this talent is only half of the battle; retaining them is the other. From defining your values to giving everybody a Northstar, we’ve delved into what it means to keep your staff happy and motivated with these effective ways to retain employees.

Employee retention: More than its definition

In a nutshell, employee retention is the goal of keeping top talent at your organisation. It’s usually synonymous with job satisfaction and means workers are opting to increase their professional development at their current company without actively looking for another job. But, retention goes beyond just holding on to staff. 

Keeping staff retained is one thing, but keeping them happy, engaged, and motivated to succeed is another. To master the art of employee retention, employers need to delve deeper into what retention means and how it can benefit the way their company operates overall. 

By prioritising the wants and needs of your staff now, it becomes easier to keep them happy and working to their full potential in the long run.

About the employee life cycle

The most significant stages that an employee experiences as they interact with their firm are recognised via the employee life cycle. Attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, and separation are the six distinct stages and each is passed chronologically.

There are numerous reasons why acknowledging the employee lifecycle is important as an employer, but the main benefit is that it actively encourages you to evaluate and improve the employee experience at each stage of the cycle. This, in turn, improves retention, as the better the experience an employee has with your company, the more likely they are to stay put.

9 easy ways to improve your employee retention 

there be giants team engaged and brainstorming together

To reduce turnover, you will have to think of some simple yet effective ways to retain your current employees – especially if you’ve adopted new ways of working remotely since the pandemic. 

Here, we’ve listed 9 easy ways to improve employee retention as an organisation.

  1. Improve your company onboarding process
  2. Champion company culture
  3. Don’t forget the little things
  4. Be sure your employees don’t feel overworked and overwhelmed
  5. Ensure managers are not causing top talent to leave
  6. Make sure your employees feel recognised and appreciated
  7. Create career advancement opportunities and lateral movement
  8. Provide flexible working arrangements
  9. Create alignment with clear goals and direction

1. Improve your company onboarding process

You might not realise it, but your onboarding process has a lot to do with employee retention.

Effective onboarding practices should give new hires the tools and knowledge they need to do their jobs effectively, while also assisting them in becoming comfortable in their new workplace. Starting a new job is incredibly nerve-wracking for the majority of new employees, so your job as an employer is to ensure that they feel settled from the get-go. 

A good onboarding process will also boost employee engagement and motivation by making the new employee confident about their decision to work for you, laying down the right foundations for a positive working experience long-term. 

Employees that are confident and trust the processes put in place by their employer during the initial stages of their employment are less likely to jump ship. In contrast, negative onboarding experiences mean workers are twice as likely to look out for different job opportunities. TBG’s top tip: Don’t skimp on onboarding.

2. Champion company culture

In recent years, company culture has quickly climbed candidates’ priority lists. Workers have become less focused on traditional monetary desires and have started to want more from their work environment. 

That’s because, in times of uncertainty, it’s only natural that workers seek extra support from management teams, a constant stream of communication between themselves and senior staff, and something to put a smile on their faces every day.

By championing company culture at your organisation, you can almost guarantee that your employees will remain more positive, engaged, and motivated for longer. 

Employees who connect with your company’s purpose will become closely aligned with your vision and know that they play a part in what you’re trying to achieve as a whole. Simply understanding their role in your organisation’s mission means they’re more likely to become motivated to perform better to help you succeed, together. 

If all of these aspects are ticked off, there should be very little reason for your staff to consider leaving your company. Finessing your company values and incorporating them into your company culture is a massive stepping stone in improving retention overall.

3. Don’t forget the little things 

If your employees are working full-time or on a hybrid basis, it’s important to not neglect the little things you can do to help them feel happier at work. In the past, a paycheck and a beer fridge might have kept your employees happy in an office setting. But as office culture has changed and aged, it’s also refined. 

While offering your workers a paid lunch on a Friday, organising team trips out, early finishes, and free refreshments are small things you can do to help your employees feel appreciated, valued, and excited to come to work every day – this shouldn’t be relied on alone to boost morale

In fact, we’d recommend implementing everything else on this list, getting the fundamentals right and evaluating your culture before even considering what to add under the ‘perks’ section on your job descriptions.

For any remote employees, making sure they’re included in any planned trips and scheduling face-to-face meetings now and again is essential. This helps to avoid any disconnect between teams and overall, improve the employee experience! 

4. Be sure your employees don’t feel overworked and overwhelmed

Long hours, tight deadlines, and ever-increasing demands can leave your employees feeling worried, drained, and stressed at work. In recent times, employees are looking for work settings that promote long-term stress management for their own and their family’s health. As a result, the modern workplace must actively prevent burnout and promote well-being to provide a good work-life balance for staff members.

To prevent “Zoom fatigue” in team members who work from home, consider scheduling a day per week without meetings. In the office, allow employees to talk freely to each other. Employees are far more likely to adopt a better attitude and focus more clearly when leaders urge them to concentrate on what motivates them in their personal and professional lives.

5. Ensure managers are not causing top talent to leave

As the popular saying goes, people don’t leave a workplace, they leave their managers. Set expectations for managers’ roles to provide them with the appropriate soft and hard skills needed to fulfil their roles to the best of their ability. 

Starting with the onboarding process, provide them with the resources and coaching they require to support the staff that will be reporting to them. Providing managers with adequate training and support is more important than ever as respected leaders are role models for the right behaviour at work.

6. Make sure your employees feel recognised and appreciated

image showing team leader recognising employees

Recognising and rewarding your employees’ best efforts is one of the best employee retention strategies. Far too often, employers focus on results rather than the effort put in by workers to get those results. In future, focus on recognising the effort your team members put in and thank them for their suggestions and contributions. 

When you recognise and appreciate hard work, employees are more likely to continue putting in the effort you need to boost your business, feel valued, and become motivated to increase their personal development at your organisation. 

What does success look like to the organisation? It’s challenging to recognise employees that are excelling when you’re not sure what that looks like against the norm. First things first, define your idea of high performance in order to reward appropriately and be sure to communicate it across the business. Tip nine can give you some pointers! 

7. Create career advancement opportunities and lateral movement

It’s difficult to promote everyone at your organisation but letting workers know that there’s an opportunity for them to grow at your company is paramount in keeping employees interested and retained. 

By allowing lateral movement and job rotations, employee career development and retention rates both rise. This addresses the chance of burnout or career stagnation in their current position, which often leads people to look elsewhere. 

If promotion isn’t always possible, employees can gain new experiences and improve their job satisfaction through lateral shifts, which may involve moving to a different office or changing teams.

8. Provide flexible working arrangements

In the modern workplace, offering flexible working arrangements is a huge factor in whether or not your staff members stay happy at work. As an employer, it shows that you’re understanding each of your employees’ commitments, arrangements, and ways of working. 

Offering remote and hybrid work has been closely tied to employee engagement since it become more popular in 2020. Engaged employees not only opt to remain with their current employers, but also rave about them to close relatives, close friends, and new employees looking for their next potential job role. 

9. Create alignment with clear goals and direction

When employees have clear goals to aim for, it’s easier to be engaged in the day-to-day. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) can assist HR managers in creating a culture of success and uniting an organisation’s most important goals. 

While often HR can be seen as a necessity rather than a catalyst for driving performance and innovation, HR professionals can use data from OKRs to better inform decision-making when it comes to the organisation’s biggest asset: its people! 

From focusing efforts in the right direction to increasing engagement and aligning the team – these ambitious goals motivate and inspire employees to achieve new heights. 

If you’ve not yet implemented OKRs, they have the potential to work perfectly alongside KPIs. KPIs help monitor performance and identify areas for improvement; OKRs help solve problems, improve processes, and drive innovation.

There are numerous advantages to applying this framework, and businesses of all sizes can experience using OKRs to achieve corporate goals with focus and alignment. Some of these benefits include:

      • Agility
      • Employee engagement
      • Clear objectives and goals
      • Greater transparency
      • Improved retention

Keep in mind that it’s not only a top-down process. The process allows everyone to participate in setting goals and take greater responsibility for their own goals. 

Your OKR journey starts here

Why are workers leaving? The importance of exit interviews

Even if you implement all of the above steps and your company is next to perfect, one thing is always inevitable – some employees will leave. But, to continue improving retention at your organisation, it’s essential to find out exactly why these employees have decided to jump ship. That’s why exit interviews are crucial.

Exit interviews are a great method to learn more about why some employees choose to leave your company, which will help you find a solution to the problem. 

By asking the same questions, you can begin to gather data and identify trends regarding why people are moving on. After you’ve noticed a pattern, you can quickly act on it to make the necessary changes to avoid any further leavers.

In summary

Overall, employee retention can be a challenge – especially since the working world has been altered quite considerably. However, coming up with simple yet effective ways to retain employees can help you hold on to your top talent for longer. 

Whichever employee retention strategy you choose to implement, reducing turnover is a process and won’t happen overnight. But, if you give it the necessary attention it requires, it will cost a lot less than replacing the staff you’ve lost, give you a competitive edge in an oversaturated and uncertain job market, and help attract more employees in the long run.

For more information about how you can help retain your employees and achieve your organisational goals, our helpful guide takes you through the 7 principles you’ll need to master when creating a healthy culture.

Master the 7 principles of a healthy culture