Improving employee retention is a challenge for many businesses and making retention a priority before it creates an issue and starts impacting revenue or morale is becoming increasingly significant. Throughout this article, we examine the importance of retaining staff and various strategies that can be implemented to make a real difference to enhancing employee retention.
Why is employee retention important?
Whilst a degree of movement in staff turnover can assist a business with bringing in fresh ideas and energy, on balance being able to retain capable, committed workers is crucial for a thriving business. It costs both time and money to hire, employ and train new staff up to the level of existing members of the team. High retention rates generally mean a company is getting it right and treating their employees well, resulting in job satisfaction and employee engagement. Both these factors lead to greater productivity and increased revenue. Gaining a reputation of being a thriving place to work strengthens the company’s image and attracts talented individuals.
Employee retention rates
According to Monster, the UK’s average employee turnover rate is around 15% a year, however, employee retention rates vary hugely between different industries. Jobs within the public sector, education, legal and accountancy industries tend to have low turnover rates, whilst jobs within the private sector such as retail, call centres, construction and catering are prone to having the highest level of turnover. With £11,000 per person being the average cost of an employee turnover, improving employee retention rates is key to avoiding high expenditure.
Employee retention strategies
- Professional Development Opportunities and Career Advancement – Investing in your employees by offering the opportunity to develop new skills and enhance their career prospects has a substantial impact on talent retention. Asking staff what training or courses they’d find helpful to receive is an important part of this. Professional development opportunities not only help to improve motivation and productivity but also make employees feel supported and valued by the company. Increasing the skill level of existing staff also means that they will be better equipped to progress their career within the company when vacancies come up, saving resources.
- Offer employee perks – Having a good benefits package can help attract talent to the company, increase motivation and improve employee retention. Rewarding loyalty to staff who stay with the business by increasing what they receive is a simple method to improving staff retention. People tend to expect certain perks when they join a company such as pension schemes or performance bonuses, so being able to offer alternative benefits as well as the more standard contributions could make you stand out from the crowd. Having flexibility in allowing employees to customise their benefits package is becoming increasingly important with the wide range of ages of employees within a company. People will tend to have different priorities depending on their life stage.
- Make wellbeing and health a priority – Changing the dialogue around the way sickness is viewed within the workplace can benefit both employees and the business itself. If staff feel supported, listened to and able to put their wellbeing and health first this in turn can lead to fewer sickness absences and improved employee retention. Having access to private healthcare, including counselling, wellness initiatives, flexible working patterns and time off for medical appointments are all necessities for a company who truly puts wellbeing at its core. With an ageing population and increased amounts of people with chronic health conditions, creating an inclusive working environment has never been more important.
- Identify candidates who fit the job well – Hiring people in the first instance who are best suited to the role means that they are more likely to stay the course and be less likely to leave. Whilst it is relatively simple to check that qualifications, skills, and previous experience match what is expected within a job there are other factors to consider too. Making sure that a prospective candidate fits in with the company culture and holds similar values is of equal importance. This can be done during interviews using behavioural questions or with psychometric testing.
- Flexible working arrangements – During the Coronavirus pandemic being able to work from home became the norm and this has had a massive impact on expectations of workers. A poll carried out in 2021 reflected this and found that 47% of employees would think about changing their job if flexible working was not available to them. Having the option of where work is done and being able to carry out some or all working hours from home is becoming increasingly popular. Businesses that allow flexibility in when hours are worked to fit around workers responsibilities (such as working parents) will also benefit from improved staff retention.
- Invest in diversity and inclusion – A diverse workforce is one that truly embraces every individual for who they are. This can take into account disability, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, social background, etc. Making sure employees feel accepted, respected, and valued in their work environment means that they are more likely to stay with the company. Amongst numerous benefits, inclusive organisations have 15% greater employee retention. Ensuring diversity and inclusion is a whole company ethos is imperative. For example, having a workplace where 50% of employees are women but none of them are managers, highlights the importance of diversity at all levels.
- Feedback from employees – Gaining knowledge on what is working and what can be improved within the company first-hand is key to knowing what changes can be made. Using anonymous feedback surveys both for current employees and when someone leaves can generate a wealth of information that can be utilised. When staff know that they are being listened to and their opinions have been heard and acted upon, they will feel valued. Understanding why employees leave the company opens an opportunity to receive honest observations so that positive experiences can be repeated, and negative ones avoided.
- Supportive management and mentors – Although employees technically work for the company as a whole, primarily their most involved work relationship will be with their manager. Management issues are the reason behind around 50% of staff leaving their jobs. Therefore, making sure that managers have relationship training and know how to work compassionately, supportively, and sensitively with each individual makes all the difference to employee retention. Introducing mentoring schemes into an organisation can also help employees feel more valued and gives staff an alternative source of support or guidance.
- Recognise and appreciate – We all know that a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way, and that is the same in the workplace environment. As human beings we like to feel needed, appreciated and that our work has been acknowledged. Positive feedback and praise are fundamental to keeping motivation high and this in turn will help to increase productivity. Introducing long service awards, ‘employee of the month’, acknowledging birthdays and other special occasions can all help employees feel valued. Improving staff retention goes hand in hand with making sure staff know that they are appreciated.
- Focus on the work/life balance of your employees – Creating a good balance between our professional and personal lives is a high priority for many people with 2 in 3 employees searching for an improved work/life balance in a different role. If employees are working too many hours with lots of overtime, they will have little time for any social life or time with family. This can lead to them being more prone to feeling stressed, burnt out and unsupported – all reasons for looking elsewhere for employment. If companies can assist in helping their staff achieve a healthy work/life balance, then they will naturally retain talented individuals. Flag up with your staff if you notice they are working late, not taking breaks or answering emails in the middle of the night – show that the company cares about their wellbeing.
(Article by Hannah Emery)