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5 strategies to improve employee retention

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Few things hurt a business more than losing precious workers, and with the rise of the “Great Resignation”, the need to keep and retain your top talent has never been more prevalent. Many employees are now more than willing to jump ship when their needs, aspirations, and professional development are undervalued – though having the right programs in place can help avoid this. 

Below, we explore the five top strategies to improve employee retention, and how training with Upskilled can help boost your workplace management skills for 2022. 

What is employee retention? 

“Employee retention” refers to an organisation’s ability to retain its employees and reduce turnover. This is typically achieved through retention programs, comprising better pay, benefits, and ways to improve workers’ relationships with their managers and team leaders. 

With the right programs and strategies in place, employees can enjoy an inclusive environment that benefits their skills, career growth, and general wellbeing. Business owners also gain the advantage of lower costs associated with turnover and new hires; as well as greater profits from keeping their top performers. 

Why is employee retention important? 

employees facing the camera and smiling

With the right retention strategies, managers can cultivate a workplace of engaged, satisfied, and motivated employees. Such programs typically focus on building worker morale and motivation, ensuring all workers feel valued and celebrated for their efforts. 

Employee retention thus leads to significantly higher company productivity – which, in turn, leads to higher sales and profits. Managers are left with a stronger corporate culture, improved customer experience, and workplace of competitive (and increasingly innovative) skills.

Recent workplace trends report an average employee turnover rate of approximately 8.2% in Australia – and with the economy now recovering from COVID-19, more workers are actively seeking bigger and better career opportunities.

It’s thus important to be in touch with your current workers’ needs and goals, ensuring they’re given the right tools and environment to put forth their best performance.

What are the strategies to improve employee retention? 

  1. Optimise the onboarding process.
  2. Offer training opportunities.
  3. Provide better perks and compensation.
  4. Value their work-life balance.
  5. Provide consistent feedback and recognition when due. 

1. Optimise the onboarding process. 

First things first – it’s important to recognise that employee retention starts as early as your onboarding process. The orientation, training, and support you provide sets the stage (and tone) for a new employee’s tenure at your company, so be sure to optimise this critical first step. Keep in mind that onboarding should also be more than signing documents, taking an office tour, and teaching them the basic ropes; it should also be a chance for new workers to learn about your company culture, the daily expectations of their role, and their potential opportunities up the ladder.

An effective onboarding program will additionally be well-structured, engaging, and provide clear measurements of employee performance. Some companies provide new workers access to an “onboarding portal”, granting them a centralised platform for all the training content they need (i.e. an employee handbook, important documents, first-day information, etc.). 

SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) also recommends having this process last “at least one year to ensure high retention” and that employees have a thorough understanding of their role and responsibilities. 

2. Offer training opportunities.

Training shouldn’t be a one-off event, however – but rather an ongoing strategy.

Keep employees engaged, valued, and motivated by helping them build upon their strengths while improving their areas for growth. This is typically achieved by providing access to professional development courses, allowing workers to upskill according to their personal career goals or upcoming industry trends. Not only will you be keeping your workers’ skills up-to-date and competitive, but they’ll also be continuously challenged to progress within your company. It also offers them the opportunity of exploring new interests or skills, helping boost morale as they focus on their personal development. 

Studies show that both millennial and Gen Z workers are particularly drawn to employee training opportunities, with many likely to leave a company that barely invests in its workers. 

3. Provide better perks and compensation.

money concept

Be sure to keep workers satisfied with competitive paycheques and workplace benefits. Take the time to review employee salaries on the regular, ensuring they’re not only fair, but competitive – and adjust accordingly when necessary. 

Money, however, forms only one part of the equation; it’s also crucial to evaluate the other forms of compensation your company currently offers. As mentioned, opportunities for professional (and personal) development have become non-negotiable for most young workers, as well as benefits such as healthcare and retirement planning services. If affordable, “wellness offerings" such as fitness and stress management programs are also popular perks to consider providing your employees. 

4. Value their work-life balance.

Proper work-life balance has increasingly become a priority among workers, with many now valuing options for flexible work. 

The economic effects of COVID-19 have shone light on the many benefits of “working from home”, a now widespread lifestyle may have been deemed as the “new normal”. Allowing employees to flexibly balance both their work and personal responsibilities (while helping them save on the time and costs of daily commute and travel), retaining this as a staple work option can lead to a happier, more productive workplace. You may even wish to consider other forms of flexible work, such as partial telecommuting or flextime options. 

A general respect for your employees’ personal lives and wellbeing will go a long way to ensuring their satisfaction and dedication to your company. Encourage boundaries between one’s work and home life, support their needs for days off, and keep watch for signs of burnout. 

5. Provide consistent feedback and recognition when due. 

Finally, it’s important to ensure workers are consistently valued and recognised for their efforts. Express gratitude when due, and remind your employees of the larger impact their work makes on the company’s goals. If possible, it may even be worth setting up a rewards system, incentivising workers to bring forth new, innovative ideas.

Of course, it’s also crucial to provide constructive feedback when necessary. Help your workers reach their full potential by providing regular performance reviews, giving you both the opportunity to discuss any workplace-related issues or concerns. This also grants your employees the chance to discuss both their short and long-term career goals, and how these can play a part in their future in your company.

Upskilled currently offers both a BSB40520 – Certificate IV in Leadership and Management and a BSB50420 – Diploma of Leadership and Management to improve one’s communication, relationship-building, and leadership abilities in the workplace. Best of all, both programs are delivered online – helping you train at a time, place, and pace that suits you best. 
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