12 Surefire Tips to Reduce Employee Turnover

October 1, 2013 Darcy Jacobsen

How would you feel about a higher retention rate in your organization? I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a single HR exec I know who would turn that down. In fact, employee retention is without a doubt one of the most intense challenges facing most human resources departments.

Sadly, with the improving economy and the coming talent crunches due to retiring boomers, retention rates promise only to get worse. Already, turnover rates for all industries hover around 13%–and those rates are far higher in the service sector, where the average is 30%, according to SHRM. The retention crisis will undoubtedly intensify as the talent war rages and Millennials (who are notorious for job hopping) become a bigger part of the workforce.

With that in mind, here are a dozen tips on how you can slow down the revolving door at your company. Some may be familiar, some may be new to you, but all should help you inspire long-term loyalty from your best employees.

  1. Hire the right people
    The best way to ensure employees don’t leave you is to make sure you are hiring the right employees to begin with. Define the role clearly—both to yourself and to the candidates. And then be absolutely sure the candidate is a fit not only for it, but for your company culture.
  2. Fire people who don’t fit
    As the old saying goes, “a stitch in time, saves nine.” The same goes for cutting employees loose when necessary. Sometimes even when you follow the advice above, you get an employee who—no matter what you try to do—just doesn’t fit. And, no matter how effective they might be at their actual work, an employee who is a bad fit is bad for your culture, and that creates “culture debt.” They will do more damage than good by poisoning the well of your company. Cut them loose.
  3. Keep compensation and benefits current
    Be sure that you are paying employees the fair going wage for their work (or better) and offer them competitive benefits, or—really—who can blame them for ditching you? This might seem like a no brainer but you’d be surprised how few companies offer raises that keep up with an employee’s development and actual rising worth.
  4. Encourage generosity and gratitude
    Encourage pro-social behavior in your employees. When they are given the opportunity to connect with one another through acts of generosity and the expression of gratitude, employees will be healthier, happier, and less likely to fly the coop. And by encouraging them to be on the lookout for good behaviors to commend, you give people a sense of ownership of the company.
  5. Recognize and reward employees
    Show your employees they are valued and appreciated by offering them real-time recognition that celebrates their successes and their efforts. Make it specific, social and supported by tangible reward, and you, too, will be rewarded—with their loyalty.
  6. Offer flexibility
    Today’s employees crave a flexible life/work balance. That impacts retention directly. In fact, a Boston College Center for Work & Family study found that 76% of managers and 80% of employees indicated that flexible work arrangements had positive effects on retention. And more and more companies know it.  That means, if you’re not offering employees flexibility around work hours and locations, they might easily leave you for someone who will.
  7. Pay attention to engagement
    This one sounds obvious, but for too many leaders interest in engagement is limited to the results of engagement surveys. It’s not enough simply to run an engagement survey once a year. You need save most of your energy to take action based on the results and you need to work to build a culture of engagement in your company all year long.
  8. Prioritize employee happiness
    Happiness may sound a bit soft and squishy to many execs, but the numbers behind it are anything but. Employee happiness is a key indicator of job satisfaction, absenteeism and alignment with values–just for starters. Investing in the happiness of your employees will pay dividends in engagement, productivity and yes, retention. (Find some tips for building happiness here.)
  9. Make opportunities for development and growth
    Employees place HUGE value on opportunities for growth. In fact, a recent Cornerstone survey drew a direct connection between lack of development opportunity and high turnover intentions. If you aren’t developing your employees then you aren’t investing in them. And if you aren’t investing in them, why should they stay with you?
  10. Clean up performance reviews
    Our most recent Workforce Mood Tracker survey painted a frankly dismal picture of how employees feel about performance reviews. Only 49 percent of them find reviews to be accurate, and only 47 percent find them to be motivating. Performance reviews offer a prime opportunity for a big win to increase trust and fortify your relationship with employees. Improve performance management by overhauling reviews, and watch employee trust and satisfaction grow.
  11. Provide an inclusive vision
    One key factor in employee engagement and happiness, according to experts, is to provide them with a sense of purpose and meaning in their work. Offer employees a strong vision and goals for their work and increase their sense of belonging and loyalty to your organization.
  12. Demonstrate and cultivate respect
    Finally, don’t discount respect when it comes to creating a magnetic culture. In fact, in one 2012 study, respect in the workplace was revealed to be a key factor in voluntary turnover. Find ways to cultivate and nurture respect in your workplace and it will pay off in higher retention.

12 Useful Tips to Help Keep Employees
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Use these tips to help build a culture in your organization that will keep your turnover rates low, and your best employees on board and productive for years to come.


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