5 Simple Employee Retention Strategies for ANY Business: Part 1

Posted by Kelsey Mayfield on Oct 25, 2018 3:47:18 PM
5 min read

Hands shaking

You’ve probably heard that job hopping, especially among younger employees, is becoming a new norm. If you haven’t heard of this trend, you may have experienced it with realizing it’s happening all around you.

Low employee retention rates are a major problem for businesses because they:

  1. Hurt your finances - it costs money to hire somebody and you’re losing money for every minute your business is short a worker.
  2. Drive down productivity - no matter what position is missing, some system within your business has been disrupted by the missing piece.
  3. Tarnish your business’s reputation - no one wants to work for a business with a high turnover rate; that’s a red flag for any prospective employee.

But there are simple ways to increase your employee retention without having to drastically raise salaries and schedule foosball tournaments in the break room. They start with a little awareness.

Strategy 1: Plan for Retention

It might sound obvious or silly, but if you want to increase your employee retention rates, you need to plan for it.

Sometimes businesses do things by happy accident. But other times, you need to be aware and mindful of a situation to turn it into a positive one. Retention is typically in the latter category.


Step 1: Gather Data

Computer screen with charts and data

To keep employees working longer, start with the facts. This is the backbone of your strategy, so don’t base it on a gut feeling. You need to collect data on how your employees feel about your business. If you don’t, you’ll either waste your time on strategies that do nothing for your business, or you’ll do the exact opposite of what you want.

Start gathering data by conducting exit interviews. Keep the conversation casual and friendly to keep their answers unbiased, and ask these three core questions:

  • Why did you first come to work here?
  • Why did you stay for as long as you did?
  • Why are you leaving?

You can get more granular and specific if you’d like, but the above three questions are the keys to understanding what you can do to keep employees working for you for longer.

If you only interview employees who are leaving, then you’re only getting half the story. Opinions and thoughts of employees who stay are just as valuable as those of leaving employees. Knowing why employees leave can tell you what improvements you need to make, but knowing why employees stay is how you find out where your business excels.

Conduct annual stay interviews with your existing employees. Try not to combine this with annual reviews because you could unintentionally influence the results.

Ask similar questions to the exit interview to keep your data consistent:

  • Why did you start working here?
  • Why have you stayed here?
  • What would cause you to leave?

Form Your Plan

Once you have the answers to your three core questions, create a retention improvement plan that strengthens your business’s weaknesses and highlights your business’s strengths.

If it helps, write or type out your strategy so you can see the different pieces of it.

Make sure to include other employees in carrying out this strategy where necessary. This isn’t a one-man job and having someone else working with you on this initiative will hold you accountable to the strategy. This isn’t something that you can do only when you have the time or when it’s convenient, it has to be an on-going initiative.

Employees don't stay with a business because things they like or want happen every once in a while. They stay because you give them a consistent reason to stay.

Track Results

Hands writing something in a notebook

Don’t forget to track your results. Without them, you’ll have no idea if your strategy is actually working or not.

Be sure to track the average time an employee stays with your business, as well as the total number of employees who left along with their reasons for leaving. You should also keep track of reasons why employees stay to see if you're consistently meeting their expectations.

That’s it for the first employee retention strategy. Normally I’d include all five strategies in the same article, but because this is an important topic I decided to give each strategy a chance to shine in its own article.

Look forward to learning about more ways to keep employees working for you in the weeks to come.

Are you having a hard time keeping employees? What are you doing to promote longevity? Let us know in the comments below!

Topics: Business, Management, Employees