Implementing an Employee Retention Program [2021 Guide]

Sam
August 18, 2021
6 Min Read
Photo by
Mick Champayne

Table of Contents:

Why you need an employee retention program

Did you know that employee retention is directly related to your company culture?

Intentionally or not, you likely see and interact with a large portion of your workforce every day. These employees are the backbone of your company; their hard work, dedication and commitment keep your business thriving. However, when they become unhappy, overworked or feel like they don’t have the necessary equipment to do their jobs, turnover rates increase.

Studies show that organizations with low employee retention levels experience lower productivity than their counterparts with high retention rates. Tax credit aside, this is why many companies are implementing full scale employee retention programs. It isn’t always easy to keep employees engaged and happy, but a focus on who your employees are as people is a good start.

An effective employee retention program is designed to help organizations retain their top talent. These programs are created with specific goals in mind, allowing companies to maximize their overall workforce potential. Whether your company is dealing with low morale, high turnover rates or just wants to ensure that your most valuable employees remain satisfied, an employee retention strategy can help.

Best practices for an employee retention program

An effective employee retention program will focus on a variety of aspects of the employee experience and what is needed to deliver higher job satisfaction. It’s also important to treat your team members as partners in a shared mission, working together toward the same goal rather than doing route tasks like a subordinate without any goal beyond a minimum wage. Some best practices for employee retention include:

1. Outline the company’s mission and vision, and increase its visibility within your workplace. You may want to create posters and banners to hang in the workplace so your team is constantly reminded what they’re working for.

2. Focus on work-life balance initiatives to ensure workers have time for personal priorities as well as their jobs.

3. Deliver incentives and rewards to employees, recognizing staff who go the extra mile.

4. Address employee concerns and complaints in a timely and respectful way.

5. Establish an open line of communication between management and staff.

6. Provide training programs for workers and encouraging them to grow their careers.

7. Spread awareness about the company’s successes, and provide regular updates on goals met.

8. Create a solid employee performance management system that lets workers improve their job skills.

9. Ensure strong corporate culture with strong, accessible leadership.

Remember, employee retention is not just important in view of the CAREs act or employee retention tax credit. Whether or not you are an eligible employer with a PPP loan or a tax break on payroll costs, keeping your employee turnover low will increase employee morale, job satisfaction and, ultimately, your organization's productivity rate.

Planning an Employee Retention Program

Work with your HR team and employees to create an employee retention program that directly addresses what they feel are the most problematic areas in your organization. Here are nine practical ways in which you can apply the above best practices to your organization's employee retention program.

  • Encourage open communication between management and staff and a 360 degree feedback loop that provides constructive feedback for employer and worker alike.
  • Provide career development opportunities for employees and enable them to follow their interests and grow within their roles in your company.
  • Allow workers time to improve their skills through training or personal projects.
  • Offer incentives and rewards for high-performance and going above quota, and acknowledge workers who have stayed with the company on each year’s work anniversary with a recognition plaque or other reward.
  • Provide flexible schedules and be responsive to requests for personal time off. If a full time employee needs to go down to part time for family reasons, make the transition smooth and guilt-free.
  • Offer help with personal projects, and give employees access to company resources.
  • Encourage company leadership and managers to listen to employees and take into account the opinions of those under them before making major decisions.
  • Empower employees with responsibility and increased decision-making abilities, giving them autonomy to make decisions directly related to the work they do.
  • Create a service oriented company culture that ensures superior customer service and high morale for those in service jobs.
  • Remember, the end goal of these employee retention techniques is to keep existing employees happy, engaged, productive and satisfied with their job as well as to improve the company’s bottom line.

Implementing your employee retention program

When you implement your employee retention program, keep in mind that this is a long-term initiative. Take it like a marathon, not a sprint. You want your employees to know that this program is here to stay and that you’re in it for the long haul.

Rather than simply run a one-day program on employee appreciation, let your workforce know that they are appreciated every day. For instance, a commitment to flexible work hours and vacation options will have a much higher effect on staff retention rates than simply handing out an extra week of vacation randomly, and can go a long way to supporting your employees’ personal priorities and their life/work balance.

Similarly, encouraging a culture of feedback and introducing software like Matter to enable your team members to give each other kudos and constructive feedback will be much more effective than simply sending out a quarterly survey.

Make sure you get everyone involved in the program, even upper management. Check your company website to see if you already have any employee retention initiatives in place. If so, be sure to tie into that policy and make sure the employees are aware of what’s already available.

If there is no existing program, don’t worry. You can put one in place and, since you’re already here, you've already taken the first step!

Using metrics to gauge the success of your employee retention program

The best way to know if your employee retention program is working is, of course, to ask your employees! You may be surprised at the number of people who are willing to give you honest feedback.

That said, you can also measure employee engagement by looking at key metrics such as turnover rate and absenteeism per calendar quarter. For example, a decrease in turnover rate will be an indicator of success, but so too would a decrease in absenteeism. Other metrics you want to keep track of include employee satisfaction ratings and customer service levels. You can also conduct entrance interviews for new employees to see what it is about your organization that they like (and don’t like), and ensure that all leaving employees are given a comprehensive survey during their exit interview so you know what motivated their move.

Once you have implemented an employee retention program, be sure to measure your success! Keep track of the key metrics we mentioned above, but also look at other metrics that might apply to your organization, such as employee engagement levels, client satisfaction ratings and/or internal company communication.

Final employee retention program tips

Remember that any time you involve your employees in the decision-making process, you’re going to get better results because they are invested in the final product. So, don’t just hand down a new policy and expect your employees to follow it. Employee feedback is key to employee engagement. Encourage them to provide input, ask questions and collaborate on ideas!

You want everyone on your payroll to feel appreciated, valued and supported in their decision-making. Employee recognition will allow your employees to not only do great work but also take ownership of that work. It’s a win-win for you and your organization, and one of the best ways to up your employee retention rate.

Finally, remember that this is a long-term commitment. Your employee retention program should not be a one-day event or even a one-day project. It’s something you implement and work at every single day.

So what are you waiting for? Implement an employee retention program today!

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