Recruitment & Retention

Building your employee retention machine

While every company’s retention strategy is a little different, there are always opportunities for improvement.
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Amelia Kinsinger

4 min read

We’ve yet to confirm if it works to play Taylor Swift’s “Stay Stay Stay” at the office, but how will we know if we don’t try? Experimentation is key in this era where a truly transformative HR strategy must keep agility and resilience in the forefront.

Even if a company is succeeding across culture, engagement, and financial performance, there are always opportunities for improvement when it comes to boosting retention. That’s why many companies are tinkering with their employment value proposition.

Start with a survey

For organizations looking to understand how to improve retention or employee engagement, it may help to quantify employee sentiment across numerous variables, including intent to stay, commitment to coworkers, and trust in leadership.

Gartner’s HR research has boiled engagement down to five categories: understanding of the job, relationship with manager, perception of senior leadership, career opportunities, and work conditions.

Detox your culture

In January 2022, MIT Sloan research found that toxic culture and “job insecurity and reorganization” were the top two reasons for turnover and also that “companies with a reputation for a healthy culture…experienced lower-than-average turnover during the first six months of the Great Resignation.”

Improving culture may be a matter of the feedback coming in, and getting better data to understand employee sentiment and diagnose issues. Armed with better data, and perhaps some new team members to help analyze the data and let it tell a story, HR leaders can even connect employee satisfaction with improved company performance to make the case for more resources and support for retention efforts.

“If I can tie data [from] those that do feel like they’re better off working [where they work] to their productivity and their proficiency, and [if] I can correlate that then to business results, you start to make believers out of the rest of the enterprise,” Yusuf Tayob, group chief executive of Accenture Operations, previously told HR Brew.

Better onboarding

You only get one chance to make a first impression. In the workplace, onboarding is that first impression. While it’s important to find the right person for a key opening, that person’s first 90 days can be crucial to whether they stay for a while or get on the fast track to departure, as the Wall Street Journal reported last year.

“If you see someone hit the three-month mark, the reality is, they’re going to be here for at least a year,” said Marissa Andrada, former chief people officer at Chipotle, to the newspaper.

With the pandemic-driven shift to remote and hybrid working models, onboarding has also undergone virtual, asynchronous, and other employee-friendly makeovers. Mentorship programs may also help newer employees find role models and network better across the organization.

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For those looking for more creative ways to excite new employees, one company hosts an onboarding comedy class, which the CEO says is a boost to culture and retention.

Be remote-friendly

Flexibility is tied to improved perceptions of culture and personal burnout, according to Slack’s Future Forum. Those with flexibility around whether or not to go into the office were 57% more likely than those without that flexibility to say their company’s culture has improved in the last two years. Workers with flexibility also reported 39% higher productivity and 64% greater ability to focus.

Train for success

Improved training, whether for managers, who are often the stewards of company culture across an organization, or reskilling employees for future-looking needs, has ties to company resilience and performance. One of the most tangible ways to determine a company’s investment in employees is by looking at the hours of training they offer them per year. Training can also support internal mobility, which has strong ties to retention.

Why not experiment?

For those thinking of bigger swings, the four-day workweek, reconfiguring office space, increased benefits, or remote-first work policies are all avenues that may be worth exploring, depending on your company.

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.