Employee Retention Strategies - How to Hang on to Your Best People

Mental Health

Employee retention strategies result in happy workers like this female office worker

In a competitive talent marketplace and strong Australian economy with a low unemployment rate, employee retention should be a priority for every business.  This is why we have put together a list of 6 employee retention strategies to help you hang on to your best people.

Your organisation can’t afford to lose highly trained, valuable staff, especially not to a competitor. The cost of replacing a skilled or professional employee is more than double their annual salary to hire and train a replacement. You want to keep the staff turnover rate down for staff morale and a to maintain a good knowledge base.

So how do you retain staff for longer? A good starting point is addressing the common reasons people have for quitting their job.

According to EY global research, the top five reasons why workers quit their job are:

  1. Minimal wage growth
  2. Lack of opportunity to advance
  3. Excessive overtime hours
  4. A work environment that doesn’t encourage teamwork
  5. A boss that doesn’t allow flexible work
  6. If your organisation would suffer if it lost one or more of its best people, you need to put a retention strategy in place. The five strategies below aren’t complex or expensive to deliver but can deliver impressive results.


#1 Make Sure Salaries are Competitive

Many employees will stay with an employer if they enjoy the work even if they can earn slightly more elsewhere. But if the difference in salary is too great, no amount of job satisfaction will keep most employees. Rising living costs in recent years has meant employees need to chase the best salary possible.

The job market is constantly changing with economic and industry factors. To ensure you are paying your staff a competitive salary, review them annually. Read salary guides, industry reports and talk to recruitment consultants to ensure the salaries you offer are at least competitive.


#2 Invest in Workers’ Professional Development

Employees feel they are valued when their employer wants to invest in their personal development. An employee could attend a seminar or conference, have their university qualification paid for or be offered a mentor. Career development and job satisfaction are closely linked.   


#3 Give People a Viable Career Path

Many employees won’t stick with their current employer if they think there is nowhere for them to grow. An ambitious employee wants new challenges, learning experiences and higher duties. If they think they have exhausted all opportunities at an organisation, they can start to get restless and look elsewhere.

Earmark staff that are at risk and spend time finding out what they would still like to learn or do and what direction they would like to take their career. If staff aren’t aware, explain what opportunities there are for them with taking on higher duties, new roles and further training or education in the future. Make it easy for staff to move between departments or teams in order for them to stay engaged, improve skills and advance their career.

#4 Recognise the Efforts of Staff

Nearly all of us want a little recognition for a job well done. Most employees will tell you they don’t expect a lot of fanfare or monetary reward, they just want someone to say it was a job well done. If a staff member puts in extra hours on a project or goes above and beyond expectations, recognise their efforts across the organisation with an announcement, certificate or perhaps a prize. Depending on the size of the organisation, you could have a points system that allows the recipient to choose their prize or a gift voucher to a large retailer.


#5 Keep the Lines of Communication Open

No one likes to feel like they’re being kept in the dark. By communicating regularly with employees, they feel important to the organisation. If an upcoming project isn’t confidential, tell an employee what role they will undertake. If the organisation is going to change direction, tell them about it. Managers can impart information to staff via team catch-ups or one on one-on-one meetings for a more personal touch.

But to increase the involvement of employees, ask them for their feedback and ideas. Send out online surveys or ask for written suggestions. Even if the response rate isn’t high, staff will appreciate that you gave them the opportunity to provide their feedback. Offer an incentive to hear back from staff.  Follow up to say thanks for the responses and what you plan to do with the information.


#6 Offer Flexibility

A global study by EY reported that 74% of workers want to work flexibly. Being able to telecommute or work fewer hours can be such a bonus to some staff that they would be willing to accept a job with less money in exchange for flexibility. Business is also becoming aware that flexibility is key to encouraging a diverse employee group, including maintaining women in the workforce after children.

It’s common to offer flexible work arrangements in new employment ads but you don’t want existing staff to think they aren’t valued because they can’t access the same benefit as a new employee.  


If you need some assistance with employee retention, contact one of the experts in our organisational psychological services at PeopleSense by Altius on 1300 307 912 or (08) 9388 9000, or contact us online.
Category: Mental Health