13 Strategies to Retain Your Best Employees

6 Employees Celebrating with their hands in the air.

No matter what the economy or hiring landscape looks like, employee retention is a very important part of a successful business strategy. Not only is it expensive to hire and train a new employee (costing up to 6-9 months of an employee’s salary on average), but having high retention rates creates a positive experience for your current employees and is a great selling point for when you do need to attract new ones.

Here are some strategies and ideas to implement to help retain your best employees.

1. Competitive Salaries

We listed this first, because it’s not only one of the most obvious strategies, but it is an important one. While there are many factors that will weigh into an employee’s decision, at the end of the day, we all have to pay our bills. Competitive compensation rates can be determined based on the combination of average cost of living in the area in which an employee lives, along with the market rate for that type of job and/or industry. Here is a great tool from MIT to look at living wages in various cities.

It’s important to keep an eye on what your competitors are offering in terms of salaries and raises. If you are below them, then there is a good chance you will lose top employees to a higher offer.


2. Growth Opportunities

No matter how great your salaries and other benefits are, (most) top employees will not be satisfied remaining in the same spot year after year. While employees do need to put in their time and thoroughly learn their current role, if there isn’t upward movement eventually, they will begin to look outward.

To stay on top of this, make sure managers schedule quarterly or semi-annual meetings with their reports to go through growth plans and development opportunities. Managers should play a key role in listening to their employee’s career goals and then take an active role in helping them achieve those. This can be through training them on a new skill, introducing them to a mentor, approving a class or certification, promoting them, or even putting them up for an opportunity within another division of the company.


3. Offering Perks or Other Benefits

There are a variety of extra benefits that are intriguing and can be that extra cherry on top of a great compensation package. Wellness benefits and cell phone discounts are a few things that can easily add value for an employee. Check out companies such as Fond, Benefit Hub, and Corporate Perks that charge a small monthly fee per employee, and provide your organization access to a wide variety of discounts.

If you need a non-monetary perk idea, even something as simple as implementing a mandatory ‘no-meeting’ hour could be interesting. Essentially, pick an hour around lunch time (i.e. 12-1pm) where no one is allowed to schedule a meeting on someone else’s calendar. This allows employees to take a relaxing lunch/break period and exemplifies how your company puts a priority on employee wellness.


4. Profit Sharing Plans

Sharing in a company’s success at all levels is a great way to create a cohesive culture with all parties working towards the same goal. If profit-sharing programs are open to most of the workforce, it gets everyone on the same page and gives employees a literal stake in company success.

Though these plans may not make sense for every company structure, it is something to consider if it makes sense for your organization.


5. Flexibility

Yes, the dreaded topic for many employers in a post covid world, flexibility. The pandemic dramatically shifted the workforce forever. While remote work was rare and flexibility was a nice perk, it is now an expected offering.

Though it is possible to find employees to come into an office 5 days per week, if your competitors are offering more flexibility, you will most likely lose some top employees. Work-life balance is more important than ever and having remote or hybrid options are a great way to retain top talent.


6. Strong Benefit Plans

Offering a variety of benefits that are paid or supplemented by employers can be a massive consideration for many employees. Include some combination of health insurance, life insurance, dental, retirement contribution, FSAs or HSAs, paid holidays, etc. Here is more information on each of these benefits.


7. Education and Development Opportunities

Offering development programs is a huge ‘win-win’ for employees and their employers. Not only will this allow the individual to learn a new skill, get a certification, or receive a degree, they will then bring this knowledge back to their company and benefit everyone.

These programs can come in the form of tuition reimbursement or the employer paying for study books and certification tests for employees.


8. Mentorship Programs

In the same vein as employee development programs, mentorship opportunities can be immensely beneficial. Connecting employees to other leaders within the company (outside of their direct boss) will allow them to learn new skills, peer into another aspect of the business, and have an additional support system within the organization.

Mentors should be enthusiastic, good listeners, respectful, and experts in their field. Indeed has a simple 10 step program to start a mentorship program at your company.


9. Comprehensive Onboarding Programs

Having a strong employee retention plan starts on day 1. A Jobvite study from 2018, shows that 33% of employees quit in the first 90 days. A good onboarding program will help new employees feel part of the company culture quicker, allowing for better employee engagement and quicker performance, which benefits everyone.


10. Listen to Your Employees

Your employees are in the thick of it daily. Getting their feedback on everything from company culture to processes can be valuable information to better your organization. Additionally, listening to employee input and taking action when appropriate will make employees feel valued and heard.

There are many tools for employee engagement including TINYPulse and Officevibe.


11. Employee Recognition

Making sure employees feel valued and recognized for their hard work is very important. Even a simple ‘thank you’ to those going the extra mile can make a difference. Make it a point to recognize top performers through a company newsletter, social media, or company award programs.

Another simple idea, get a small cake or gift card and recognize an employee on their birthday. Sometimes little gestures can go a long way!


12. Don’t Micromanage Employees

For most companies, the goal is to hire the best person for each open position. Therefore, when that person is in place, trust is essential. If you don’t have faith that your employees can do their job without someone looking over their shoulder, then you have hired the wrong employees.

Managers should make themselves available for questions and guidance without being overbearing. Lack of trust and over-management is sure to drive away top performing employees!


13. Create a Strong Culture

The employees you hire in culmination with the processes, procedures, and company mission will create a company culture. Not every culture is right for every employee. But finding those employees that have the same values and want to work towards the same goals will be the best long-term fit.


While we know it isn’t possible to implement each and every one of these retention strategies, we hope this gives your organization some ideas of both monetary and non-monetary strategies that will be enticing for employees and help you to retain and attract the best talent possible.

If you are looking to attract more of the RIGHT employees but don’t know where to start, reach out to us and we can help you find the candidates you are looking for.