How to Improve Employee Retention: A Guide for Employers

  • Employee wellbeing
Kiran Virk

Kiran Virk, Head of Talent Acquisition

(Last updated )

In 2021, news of The Great Resignation sparked major concerns for HR and leadership departments across the globe. Coupled with the emergence of the “quiet quitting” phenomenon in 2022, as employers enter the new year, improving staff retention has never been more critical.

Quiet quitting is a strategy to avoid burnout in the workplace, prevalent in younger generations. The opposite of going above and beyond in the workplace, quiet quitting is when an employee works only within their official work hours, completing only their mandatory duties outlined in their job description.

With 35% of all employed Canadians reportedly being burnt out, it is no longer simply recommended that your staff set healthy boundaries between work and personal life. It’s now a crucial factor in retaining staff.

Quiet quitting and burnout are both concerning factors leading to a high prevalence of turnover. Having low staff retention has numerous negative impacts on employers. Reports have found that the cost of losing an entry-level hire is, on average, 50% of an employee’s salary.

Employers are at risk of impacting more than just their bottom line when they have high turnover, though. Low retention can also lower the morale of your company and be harmful to your reputation, presenting as a red flag for potential new hires.

To improve employee retention, employers should strive to prevent quiet quitting and burnout, and focus on building a workplace culture where employees feel motivated to come to work and do their best within their stipulated work hours.

A tight labour market

Canada’s inflation rate was 7.6% in July 2022. In a market hit by a labour shortage, high inflation only makes recruiting and retaining skilled workers tougher for small business owners.

recent survey found that the current labour shortage was leading employers to hire employees with much less experience, and in some cases even without the required hard skills. It is crucial more now than ever that employers implement cost-effective and innovative ways to improve employee experience. This will help you retain existing employees and make your workplace attractive to talented applicants.

What is employee experience?

Employee experience is the relationship a business builds with its employees. Factors contributing to a positive employee experience include healthy work culture, positive engagement, recognition, opportunities for growth, a sense of belonging, work-life balance, competitive compensation, benefits, and perks.

How to increase retention in the workplace

Strategies to improve employee retention do not always have to be costly. Of course, there’s no substitute for good compensation, especially in a time of high inflation and rising food and gas prices. But there are other perks and benefits you could offer that may make your staff think twice before switching jobs simply for more money.

Offer competitive salary and benefits

A good compensation package makes employees feel appreciated and motivated. The top reason people change jobs is for better pay. So, make sure you are not underpaying your staff. Offer salary and benefits at par with industry standards. In the long term, it will be cheaper to offer a competitive pay package to retain talent than to keep recruiting and training new staff due to a high employee turnover.

Improve your recruitment process

Another way to improve staff retention is to provide clarity and transparency during the interviewing process. Be clear on the job expectations from the beginning. If the job may require occasional overtime or if a high turnover often leads to increased workload in the workplace, be upfront about it during the recruitment process instead of blindsiding the new hire.

Make sure you conduct the interviews in an objective way to select the best person for the job. Hiring a candidate well suited to the role increases the likelihood of them staying longer with the company.

Recognize and reward good work

Make your employees feel appreciated by acknowledging their hard work. Mentor them through constructive feedback and give them ownership of their projects. Organizing work socials and holding contests around holidays with rewards, such as gift cards, is another way to keep employees motivated at work.

Encourage a work-life balance

Be realistic about the workload and deadlines that you set for your staff. They should not be neglecting their health or personal life due to work. Overworked employees are at a greater risk of burning out, being stressed and being less productive. They are also more likely to view their work and workplace negatively. Encourage your employees to disconnect from work after their official work hours.

Provide opportunities for growth

Opportunities for career advancement, or the lack of it, is also a reason why employees may look to switch jobs or feel demotivated. Hosting workshops, providing training, and introducing flexible work hours (to make part-time studies possible), are all motivation strategies that can help you retain staff and improve and update their skills.

You can also mentor your employees to take on new roles within the company and promote from within when looking to fill vacancies.

Allow for remote/hybrid/flexible work

Another way to boost staff retention is by offering flexible work environments. If the nature of your business allows it, offer your staff the option of remote or flexible work. In the past two-and-a-half years, employees’ tolerance for long, crowded work commutes has declined. Remote work has also proved beneficial for staff with childcare or caregiving duties.

Remote or hybrid work or flexibility around work hours is now a perk most job seekers look for while changing jobs. According to the 2021 Hays Salary report, the option to work from home was cited as one of the “most desired benefits” by the employees surveyed.

Offering a hybrid or remote office also benefits employers. You can recruit talented individuals from across the country and not just your province. You also save money on rent and overhead expenses that would come with a physical office running at full capacity.

Remote or hybrid work is also economical for your staff as they save time and money that would be spent commuting or eating out when working from the office. It’s a perk that’ll help your staff manage their finances better in a time of high inflation. When they work remotely, your employees can also move to cities with lower costs of living.

Create a healthy work environment

While salary does matter, employee’s working environment also plays a key role in improving staff retention. A workplace where employees are treated fairly and with respect will attract workers who enjoy their work and value their employer. Here are some ways to create a positive working atmosphere:

Train managers on soft skills

The often-quoted saying is true: People don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses. Bad supervisors can create low morale and demotivate the best of workers. At times it is not even a temperament issue but rather one of not having acquired the necessary people management skills. You will benefit by training your managers in crisis management, stress and conflict management, and on how to be effective leaders.

Don’t indulge in favouritism

Another option to improve staff retention in the workplace is to create a merit-based reward system — and set the same rules for everyone. While it is natural that you may get along better with some people than others, it is unprofessional to play favourites at work. Nothing creates more bitterness and resentment in a team than when some workers get preferential treatment.

Conduct annual performance reviews

While it is good to check-in with your staff on a regular basis, annual performance reviews are also very important. Use the annual appraisals to get feedback from your staff, discuss their goals and future with the company. This may help you offer them opportunities for growth and training in line with their goals. You’re more likely to improve staff retention if employees are invested in their career.

Get professional HR support for your small business

Irrespective of whether you manage a staff of five or 50, professional HR support will bring structure to your workplace and make employee management easier.

You can either hire an internal HR team for this purpose or get a lawyer to draft your contracts and policies. But both these options are going to be expensive.

When you outsource your HR management to an advisor like Peninsula, our experts take care of all your HR issues and documentation. We have a team of HR consultants available 24/7 to answer all your queries.

We will help you streamline your processes, update policies and ensure you are compliant with labour laws and protected from litigation.

Our low-cost membership plan makes our services affordable for businesses of any size. You can access Peninsula’s support at a fraction of the cost of hiring an internal HR team or employment lawyer.

Do you need help with HR management?

For advice on HR and health and safety policies, call a Peninsula expert today at 1 (833) 247-3652

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