By Twine on

If you work in human resources, lowering employee turnover at your organization is one of your primary goals. Especially considering that, according to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 38.2 million people quit their jobs in 2017 (a trend that increased for the eighth year in a row). You don't want your organization to become just another statistic; you need an employee retention program. And we have just the strategies to get you started.

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1. Help Employees Develop Their Careers

The number one reason employees leave a company is a lack of opportunity for advancement. For this reason, it's essential that you work with employees to further their career development. This process should begin before you even hire someone. Even during the interview process, you should ask candidates about their professional development goals. In this way, you can frame the entire experience of working at your company in the value it offers employees to develop their careers.

And once you have hired someone, career development should be at the forefront of every conversation they have with you as an HR professional. Make yourself a career development resource, and pair new employees with more experienced ones to help mentor them. Also, don't forget to meet with both new and more seasoned employees on a regular basis to ensure that they feel they have the chance to further their skills and other areas of professional development with your organization. It's much better to ask, find out the answer is "no", and work together to find a solution than to learn only in an exit interview that an employee is leaving because they felt they had no future with you.

2. Conduct Exit Interviews

While your goal is to prevent employees from leaving, some will; you can't avoid it. Instead of seeing it as a failure on your part when an employee leaves, view it as an opportunity to learn.

Make it your policy to conduct exit interviews any time an employee leaves your company.

In these interviews, ask what prompted an employee to leave. Was it an opportunity at another company? Dissatisfaction with your company culture or work environment? The management style of the employee's supervisor or conflicts with coworkers?

Getting honest answers to these questions will help inform your future HR and retention strategy. To ensure that you do receive honest answers, make it clear that the responses an employee gives will not affect recommendations on the part of your company.

3. Survey Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement

While you can learn a lot from exit interviews, ideally you learn information about why someone is thinking of leaving before they leave. To get this information, you should survey employees on a regular basis. Specifically, you should survey both employee engagement and employee satisfaction.

Here are a few employee engagement and job satisfaction questions you can ask in surveys:

  • Do you have a clear understanding of your job duties?

  • How happy are you at work on a scale of 1-10?

  • Do you feel you have a future at our company?

You can view even more employee survey questions here.

You should also pay special attention to tracking the satisfaction and engagement of new hires. The first several weeks at your company are critical in forming new employees' impression of your organization, seeing if they have (or want to have) a future with you, and deciding whether they'll even stick around for the first year. We recommend surveying new hires about their experience at least as early as after their first month at the company, and then regularly after that.

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4. Promote Work-Life Balance

Creating a healthy work-life balance for your team members is key to making sure they stick around. Of course, you should want the utmost from employees when they are at work, but if you push them too hard, there will be consequences: productivity will drop, motivation and job satisfaction will suffer, and some employees may get so burnt out that they leave.

To keep this from happening, try to avoid keeping people late or making them work overtime. Sometimes it's unavoidable to do both, but it should be an exception, not the norm. Furthermore, if someone gets their work done early, feel free to let them go early (especially on Fridays). In this way, you're rewarding results, not just adherence to arbitrary company policies.

5. Provide the Right Benefits

To compete in the modern hiring market, you must provide employees with a comprehensive benefits package. In particular, we suggest the following benefits, which are of particular value to millennial employees and some of which are easy to overlook:

  1. Flexible work hours - You could consider this more of a "perk" than a benefit, but whatever you want to call it, embracing a flexible work schedule at your company can make you more attractive to millennials in particular. A flexible schedule shows that you're aware of the reality of modern work, which ubiquitous, cheap internet enables to occur almost anywhere. For, after all, in many jobs it doesn't matter if an employee does their work while sitting in a coffee shop, at home in their pajamas, or late at night. What matters is that they do work of excellent quality.

  2. Tuition reimbursement - According to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics, the average millennial borrowed $30,000 to help pay for college. Therefore, a tuition reimbursement benefit or student loan repayment assistance can go a long way toward helping millennial employees stick around. Offering such benefits shows that you're in touch with current economic realities and value the work your employees put in to receive a higher education.

  3. Health insurance - Offering some sort of health insurance is a benefit that should go without saying, but we encourage you to consider the quality of the insurance you offer as well. If you can, offer comprehensive coverage that includes vision and dental insurance in addition to just medical insurance. Furthermore, consider insurance that covers mental health, wellness initiatives, and other preventative medicine in addition to just coverage that only kicks in during emergencies.

Executive Summary

We hope you now have a better idea of some strategies you can use to retain employees and lower your employee turnover. To review, we recommend the following strategies as part of your overall employee retention program:

  1. Help employees develop their careers.

  2. Conduct exit interviews

  3. Survey employee job satisfaction and engagement

  4. Ensure work-life balance

  5. Provide the right benefits

With these strategies at your disposal, you can begin to boost retention and improve the overall well being of your organization.