May 13, 2021 09:49 PM EDT

Employee Retention Guide

Employee Retention Guide

(Photo : Unsplash)

If an organization wants to cut down on turnover, hiring, onboarding and training costs, it needs to focus its efforts on retaining its people, and particularly its top talent. The labour market is fickle on both the supply and demand sides, with many employers treating employees as a means to an end and, often as a reaction, employees who frequently have no plans to stay somewhere long-term. This often ends up being a counterproductive dynamic for all parties involved. Here are some of the things you can start doing today if you want to retain your employees.

Create a Culture of Recognition

If there is one thing that communicates care and appreciation, perhaps above all else, it is recognizing people for their accomplishments. What's more, this recognition doesn't only have to come from management. Companies can also give coworkers a chance to recognize one another in a way that builds social capital for people throughout the organization.

From birthdays to employment anniversaries to the successful execution of a new project or assuming a new role, recognition lets people know that they are not invisible, that they matter and establishes a great prosocial currency throughout the organization that incentivizes people to work hard, meet targets and achieve results.

Provide Learning Opportunities

One common mistake made by management in organizations across industries is to assume that financial rewards are sufficient motivation for most people to want to work. While it is true people need to be able to earn a living, human beings desire personal growth as well, which includes opportunities to acquire new skills and hone existing ones.

Organizations that neglect professional development not only fail to optimize their use of human capital, but they communicate to their employees that their growth and value are not a priority. For ambitious employees who desire constant improvement and learning, a lack of such opportunities is often reason enough to leave a position or the company altogether.

Give People A Clear Path to Growth

In addition to desiring opportunities to grow, people also want to be able to follow a path to it. This is where things like performance reviews come into play. The vast majority of employees polled state that their performance reviews do not inspire them to improve.

Most performance reviews are used to decide on promotions for people, justify a future firing, offer non-actionable advice on how to improve or setting a bonus or raise. What they are rarely used to do is to help employees articulate their goals within the organization and help them design a road map for reaching them. Companies that do this show their people that it is worthwhile sticking around because the company is there to help them grow rather than just exploit their labour.

Forge Strong Teams

Another reason people stay in their current role or with their current company is that they have meaningful relationships with their coworkers. Studies find that having friends at work is an important variable in employee retention, so organizations would do well to facilitate opportunities for people to build these bonds. Whether that is through team-building events, getaways, or after-work drinks, the people you work with are often the best part about coming to work.

Companies that incentivize unhealthy competition, backstabbing and hyper-individualism end up turning the workplace into a hostile free-for-all where people don't trust one another and see their coworkers as potential threats. There are plenty of examples of these kinds of toxic workplaces throughout history that have been brought down by cultures of animosity and intolerance.

Offer Flexibility

Perhaps more than ever, people are evaluating where to work and how long to stay there based on the degree of working hour flexibility they are offered. This could be in terms of both when and where employees choose to work. Many employees indicate that they are not ready nor do they want to return to full-time in-office work and employers who give people the option to choose when and where they work, provided they are meeting targets, could convince nervous employees that their current jobs are well worth sticking around for.

Value Output Over Input

This is in some ways the natural corollary of a culture of flexibility, but employers who eschew presenteeism and instead monitor what people produce rather than how much time they put in doing so are much more apt to keep high performers and people who do not enjoy micromanagement.

Much of the discussion surrounding organizational culture in 2020 touched on the dichotomy between input and output, with a considerable amount of evidence suggesting that a focus on the latter produced better results and made for happier workers.


Employee retention should be thought of as both a more humane way to approach the employee-employer relationship as well as a sound business strategy. Organizations that take the above recommendations and evidence into consideration, in creating a culture that people enjoy working in, help control labour costs and keep talent content and satisfied with where they are. The changes required to increase employee recognition are not difficult to implement and pay dividends in the form of increased loyalty and productivity.

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