Every company wants to keep its most valuable employees happy and engaged. This begins with a stellar recruitment and onboarding process, but the work is just beginning once the candidate becomes an employee. An employee retention plan will ensure you reduce employee turnover and keep top talent at your company. In this post we will discuss the challenges surrounding retaining employees, why retention is important and how to create a retention strategy for your business.

Why Retaining Employees is Hard

We are in a candidate driven market. With more companies hiring than ever before, candidates have more employment options to choose from and focus their search on jobs/companies that they actually want to work for, not just one that will pay their rent. Combine this with the rising trend in employees hopping from company to company in order to get a promotion rather than staying with the same company and climbing up the ranks, and it’s easy to see the challenges in retaining employees.

Another major factor that driving many employees to jump ship is the rise in what people expect from a company in terms of perks and benefits. It’s not enough anymore just to have coffee in the kitchen. Many companies offer snacks, free meals and even alcoholic beverages to keep employees at their desk and working productively throughout the day. In terms of benefits, dental and vision coverage as well as more substantial 401k matching programs are becoming the norm. This depends on your company’s  industry and location, but is something every human resource professional should keep in mind as they evaluate their perks and benefits offered to employees.

Lastly, employees want to be challenged with their work. As much as everyone says they are jealous of that one coworker who scrolls through Facebook and watches YouTube videos all day, when they find themself in that situation it’s usually not long before they start looking elsewhere for work. It’s a fine line between overworking employees and giving them too little work. By having open and honest conversations with employees you can find the balance that works best for everybody’s individual work style.

Why Retention is Important

If employee retention isn’t a company priority, it definitely should be. According to SHRM, the average cost of hiring an employee is $4,129. This may not seem like a large number, but multiply that by the number of employees you hire each month and it can end up being a substantial figure.

Putting money aside, the amount of time required to properly interview, onboard and train a new employee is time that could be better spent improving the efficiency of your current workforce. By investing in and retaining your current employees, you will see a much larger return on your investment compared to always having to hire and train new employees.

Finally, in the digital age that we live in today, word gets around fast about the work environment at every company. With websites like Glassdoor allowing employees to leave reviews about their previous employers, it is critical to make sure you do everything possible to provide a positive experience at your company. This doesn’t mean that some mistakes won’t happen along the way and an employee won’t leave on bad terms; but if you make an effort to retain employees and invest in them you will be much more likely to maintain a positive brand image along the way.

How to Create a Retention Strategy

So what are some actionable steps you can start taking today in order to implement a program at your company? Below are some best practices you can use today. Let’s look at the three major pieces of an employee retention strategy: environment, work life and relationships.


  1. Up Your Snack Game – The first thing you can do to make employees want to stay at your company is something that all humans need on a daily basis, food. Giving employees an hour lunch break isn’t enough anymore.By providing some form of free snacks to your employees at the office you will make them more productive and more likely to stay at their desk. This isn’t to say you need to be competing with 7/11 in your snack selection, but having something in the office will show people that you care and allow them to do their job better. 
  2. Company Lunches – In the same vein as having snacks available, it is a great idea to have a designated day of the week where the company provides lunch to its employees. Not only will employees be excited that they don’t have to pay for lunch, this also forces people to interact with each other in an environment outside of their normal work routine. Countless studies have shown that when coworkers are friends they are more likely to stay with the company and are more productive while they are there. 
  3. Build in Time for Fun – According to a recent study the average worker is only productive for three hours out of the eight hour workday. One way to keep employees engaged and excited about coming to work is understanding that there needs to be a little bit of time designated to having fun. Companies achieve this in many different ways such as having a ping-pong table, meeting rooms with beanbags, group activities like yoga throughout the day and even a company mandated recess. At the end of the day, people want to feel cared for and understood. By realizing that a little bit of fun time at the place where we all spend the majority of our time is not detrimental to workflows, you will go a long way in having happier and more motivated employees.

Work Life

  1. Flexibility – It is becoming more and more commonplace for employees to be allowed to work from home when they need/want to. Obviously this doesn’t make sense for every industry, (an assembly line worker couldn’t do their job from home) but for office jobs that are done on the computer giving employees a little bit of flexibility will go a long way. 
  2. Benefits – A big part of working for any company is the benefits that its employees receive. With so many companies continuing to improve their healthcare, 401k and other various perk programs, you can’t afford to be left in the dust. If your employees see that they can get more money, a better title and get better benefits at a different company down the road they are much more likely to leave you high and dry. It is a good idea to do a survey at the very least once a year to gauge what new benefits/perks employees would like to see. Take these suggestions and implement some of the most popular ones. This kills two birds with one stone because it lets employees know that their opinion matters and makes your company more attractive to current and prospective employees. 
  3. Recognition/Awards – Everyone likes to know when they are doing a good job, but too often companies choose not to recognize their employees hard work and achievements. Even giving a hand-written note to members of your team will go a long way to letting your employees know they are valued members of your company. If it’s in your budget, having a yearly award ceremony at a fun location outside of your office can be a great way to boost morale and retain your best employees.


  1. Relationships With Managers – The old saying “people leave managers, not companies” rings true more than ever today. There are many different management styles that work for different types of companies but every employee needs to have a positive relationship with their manager in order for them to want to stay at the company. Some easy steps to take that can improve a relationship are: having a weekly one-on-one where the employee comes up with the agenda, a team outing, going out for drinks after work or bringing in breakfast for the team as a surprise. A manager should be somebody that the employee feels comfortable coming to for advice and help. By bringing a human element into the workplace, it is much easier to grow as a team. 
  2. Relationships with Executives – Nobody likes to be left in the dark. Too many companies have a huge disconnect between executives and their employees and this is a huge factor when it comes to employee turnover. Obviously not every detail of what’s going on at a company can be shared with the entire organization but having a monthly all-hands meeting where executives share new ideas and initiatives can go a long way in keeping employees excited and letting them know that their work means something. This doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be all business. Take some time for employees to get to know higher-ups on a more personal level. When you know somebody as a person and not just some corporate suit you are much more likely to feel comfortable and happy at work. 
  3. Relationships with Coworkers – In most businesses coworkers are already close with one another. Spending at least forty hours per week with the same people forces you to at least tolerate them. However, it is still a good idea to encourage team building and camaraderie among your employees in order to grow those relationships. When you work with your friends you are much less likely to look elsewhere for employment.


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