10 Critical Steps to Increase Employee Retention

10 Critical Steps to Increase Employee Retention

Employee retention is an area most businesses can improve on.  In the heat of the moment with deadlines, phones ringing, and customers that need servicing, this is one area where shortcuts are often taken.  With the average entry-level worker costing approximately $7,500 to turnover, executives reaching 200% of their yearly salary, and some technical workers up to 400% of their yearly salary, this shortcut can be a costly proposition.

Thought we’d start the year off with a list of critical steps to increase employee retention in 2018.  This is not meant as the be-all-end-all list by any means, but it’s a great start.

1) Initial Screening – Take the time to review applications and resumes thoroughly. Develop a combination of basic and individualized questions to fill in the gaps.  Be alert to attitude and personality in addition to the candidate’s skill set.  There are great programs available that can help automate this process. I read a great line a book about prospective employee attitudes, “Attitudes are catching, ask yourself if you would want someone to catch theirs.”

2) Orientation/On-Boarding – This is a tempting one to skip. You are shorthanded and really need the new hire on the floor….but don’t!  New CareerBuilder survey shows thirty-six percent of employers lack a structured onboarding process for new employees.  Take the time to thoroughly orientate new hires even if they have worked in the same industry.  It will be worth the time it takes. 

3) Job Specific Training with Evaluation/Feedback – Make sure your new employees are thoroughly trained on the specific job they will be doing. While orientation is typically an overview of company policy, benefits, and company-wide information, make sure the new employee understands their specific role.  Training on what to do, how to do it, why they do it, and how it plays into the overall picture makes them feel like part of the success (or failure) of their department or the company.  Early evaluation and feedback can help new employees who are struggling or can help get them back on track before they are so far gone they either quit or there is a need to replace them.  This can be accomplished with a capable mentor.

4) Provide a Mentor – Designate some of your “proven” workers as mentors to the newer employees. This way if the new hire has questions they will have someone to turn to and not feel so alone.  Choose mentors carefully; not only should they be smart workers, conscientious, and know their jobs, but they should have an awesome attitude as well!  Remember attitudes are contagious.

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5) Ongoing training Opportunities – This is important for all levels of employees and tenures of service. Most employees are hungry for new learning opportunities. These can range from formal classes to impromptu lessons and workshops by managers or other skilled workers.  There are Learning Management Systems (LMS) that can help augment the process by providing video lessons.  The LMS’ comes equipped with a dashboard to use in scheduling and compliance.

6) Create Opportunities for Advancement – Most workers want to advance within a company. Provide the educational opportunities then promote from within when possible. You will have an employee that feels you are investing in them.

7) Challenge Employees – Challenge employees! Most employees want a challenge even if they like their current job.  This is an opportunity for teamwork and learning opportunities, for you and your employee.  If the job is mundane and repetitive, get willing workers involved in special projects.

8) Praise Employees – Sounds easy but most of us don’t do enough of this. We get caught up in our own day and forget the simple pat on the back.  Take the time to celebrate!!  It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, maybe a cupcake or gift certificate to a local store or restaurant.  Just the recognition in front of their peers will go a long way towards making a satisfied employee.

9) Develop an Awesome Company Culture – This takes work, but again, worth the time and effort. Carefully create, promote, and live your company’s core values, beliefs, and mission.  Company culture is something you can’t achieve from an email or teach from a book, but must be demonstrated first hand. Employees know when it’s lip service.  You have to live this every day in every way to see the payoff.

10) Really Get to Know Your Employees – This doesn’t mean you have to be “besties” with everyone, but you should know more about your employees then work-related information. If you’re in a large company, departmental managers should take on this task. You would be surprised at the responses I get when I ask employers about employees who separated from their company; sometimes they barely know their names. You don’t have to be intrusive and ask a million questions; just close your mouth and listen.  You will be surprised what you learn. In getting to know employees it is also important to have opportunities to interact with them outside the work environment. Camaraderie outside the workplace is an important element. Let everyone see you in a more human setting, the regular person side of you. 

Make your company an employer of choice, not an employer of last resort!

Please feel free to comment with your own personal experiences with these 10, and by all means please add to the list. It will only help everyone reading!

Are you experiencing higher turnover than you would like?  Give me a call and let’s discuss your situation. I would be glad to help!


Roy Barker is Director of Special Projects at Moore Diversified Services, a Fort-Worth, Texas-based organization specializing in operations analysis, marketing development, and investment advisory services. Roy is an authority in the field of employee turnover analysis and retention strategies.