illustration of an employee being watered to grow for improve employee retention

7 Novel Ways For HR To Improve Employee Retention

Employee turnover is a nightmare for managers and HR alike. You spend time looking through resumes, interviewing candidates, hiring, onboarding, and hoping that the new hires will stay. You invest in them, train them, and look forward to reaping the rewards of your hard work—only to lose them to a rival company. 

What are you doing wrong? Put differently, how can you retain employees long-term? In this article, I’ll cover seven tactics you can use to improve employee retention in your company.

  1. Encourage Work-Life Balance
  2. Onboarding And Orientation
  3. Salaries And Benefits
  4. Focus On Your Managers
  5. Create Growth Opportunities
  6. Invest In Up-to-Date Office Equipment
  7. Employee Recognition

1. Encourage Work-Life Balance

In the past, employees were mainly influenced by monetary rewards or upward mobility when deciding whether to stay put in a company or move on.

Today, workers increasingly focus on the bigger picture of how a company contributes to their overall quality of life. In short, they want a better work-life balance.

To help retain employees, HR and management should take charge of encouraging a good work-life balance for their employees. Here are some ways to achieve this:

  • Create a culture where employees know it’s ok to leave work on time — even encouraged
  • Offer flexible working schedules, including remote working options
  • Focus on employee productivity rather than the number of hours they put in
  • Offer extra support for parents such as on-site child care, share childcare costs, or provide better maternity/paternity leave
  • Encourage staff to go on leave by limiting the number of days they can cash-in or put a cap on the number of days that can be carried over to the next year

2. Onboarding And Orientation

Nobody likes being the new guy or girl. It’s tough enough trying to remember everyone’s names, but new hires often also struggle with being unsure of what is expected in the first weeks of the job. On top of that, new hires are also trying to figure out the system without making too many mistakes.

Many managers assume that new staff will fit seamlessly into their organizations, but are disappointed when they don’t see instant results. Unless you set up your staff for success from the very beginning, they will look for a new job and leave. So, how do you do onboarding successfully?

  • Involve everyone in giving new employees a warm welcome on their first day. You can place a fun greeting kit on their desk to make them feel welcome. Percolate, a content marketing company has a fantastic onboarding program that you can look at as an example.
  • Pair a new employee with a seasoned one who’ll act as their single point of contact. This employee can help answer lingering questions, teach them the company’s culture, share tricks of the trade and show them popular lunch spots. 
  • Help them map out their future by outlining clear goals, milestones, and expectations that can be used to measure their skills and progress while keeping them motivated.
  • Organize regular team-building events to help new hires make new friends and feel like part of the team. 

3. Salaries And Benefits

According to a recent survey, 45% of employees leave their job because of salary. Moreover, higher pay offers from rival companies significantly impact a company’s ability to attract and hire good employees. You’ll be forgiven for thinking that high pay is all you need to retain employees.

But is it really all about money?

Money is important, and it’s wise to match industry rates, as your employees can easily identify rival firms that are willing to pay more than you in today’s market. So, how can you retain your top talent? Attractive compensation packages go beyond salary alone. 

They can also include:

  • Commissions or bonuses for direct sales
  • Life insurance and retirement plans
  • Health benefits and wellness programs — depending on space you could have on-site exercise facilities
  • Low-cost perks like free snacks and coffee, catered lunches, or awards such as employee of the month
  • Paid vacations with the number of days increasing over time
  • Offering stock options (if the company is large enough) to give employees a sense of ownership and allow them to share in your successes

4. Focus On Your Managers

One of the main reasons why employees leave is their manager. They have no problem with the job or the salary, but may have serious gripes with their managers — “insensitive”, “arrogant”, and “in component” are common nicknames for managers these days.

As you train your managers on the technical aspects of running a team, take the time to teach them “soft skills” that help them manage people better.

The One Minute Manager is one of my favorite business books on how managers can become more effective and likable leaders. It involves three techniques that each take less than a minute for managers to complete:

  • Motivate your employees by creating 3 personalized goals for each of them.
  • Take one minute to praise an employee whenever they hit a milestone or do well at a task, however small. The compliment should be administered immediately. Be specific about the good thing the employee has done, and share how you feel and how your actions have positively impacted the company. Lastly, affirm and encourage the employee to keep it up.
  • Conversely, if an employee has gone off track, reprimand them immediately and limit it to just 1 minute. Balance it out with an affirmation of their value and importance to the company afterward.

When you create personal goals for your employees and a predictable style and time frame for praising and reprimanding them, it conveys that you care and are just, which are two key ingredients of any good manager.

5. Create Growth Opportunities

“Where do you see yourself in the next five years?”

It’s a common interview question and one that we shouldn’t treat as routine. Judging from the answer you receive and your company’s structure, you may be able to gauge whether the interviewee will stay in your organization for a long time or leave. 

Work gets monotonous fast and good employees are constantly on the lookout for growth opportunities. They get excited by the prospect of promotion and new challenges. Employees who feel like their careers are stagnating are more likely to leave for another job while those who stay become unproductive and disimpassioned. 

To help keep your employees engaged

  • Offer clear progression paths for staff to move through job titles 
  • Alter work responsibilities
  • Arrange workshops and short courses to help them hone their skills

6. Invest In Up-to-Date Office Equipment

According to a survey by Salesforce, up to 71% of employees expect their employers to offer the same kind of technology (if not better) than what they use at home. Furthermore, 93% of millennials polled cited modern and up-to-date technology as one of the most important aspects of a workplace.

HR and management can use the latest office gadgetry to boost employee morale and keep them around longer. Who doesn’t want the latest Macbook or a spiffy new ergonomic chair to sit on? Regularly updated office equipment helps satisfy employee’s “shiny toy” syndrome. This also shows that as a company, you are willing to invest in your employees.

7. Employee Recognition

Finally, did you know that 65% of employees don’t feel appreciated for the work they do? Whether it’s because of the manager’s emotional stinginess or otherwise, undervalued staff see no significance in the work they do. They aren’t enthusiastic about their work, new projects, or even the company’s milestones. These are sobering thoughts for managers and HR teams.

Generalized thank yous don’t do much in the way of recognition. Rather, build a culture of recognizing employees for a job well done or for promoting the kind of behavior you want to be associated with your brand. 

Genuine appreciation in whichever form makes employees feel safe energizes them and frees them to what they do best. Empower your staff by:

  • Writing letters of recognition
  • Offering monetary rewards, or corporate gifts
  • Request that managers and colleagues write appreciation notes for specific tasks that were done well

Be sure to present the recognition letters or gifts in-person during company events or on internal networks.

Wrapping Up

Employee turnover is inevitable, but HR and management can reverse the trend by focusing on the tactics covered in this article. Another thing that makes employees stay is knowing they are valued for things they’re good at. Allow them to unlock their potential by asking theme these 5 Powerful Performance Revewe Questions and see how much can change just by getting to know your people better.


For more expert tips for HR managers, people and culture managers, and everyone in between, subscribe to the People Managing People newsletter, or join the waitlist for our people and culture community — launching soon!