6 tips to reduce employee turnover

If you’re responsible for headcount, there is one number you can’t ignore – attrition rate. Employee turnover, or the rate at which your top talent is leaving your organization, should be top of mind when doing any talent forecasting.

Let’s face it – talent needs to be recognized and cultivated. How do you start?

Excellent employee retention programs focus on making employees feel like they matter to the business. Where does each employee fit in to your organization? Why are they important to its success? Identifying and celebrating those reasons is what creates employee loyalty and improves overall retention. At our core, all employees just want to feel valued.

So stop watching your best employees take their skills and knowledge to your competition. Here’s what you need to know to slow down attrition:

Be upfront when recruiting

This starts with your hiring process. Is your employer branding message accurately describing the culture in your company? Not sure what an employer branding message is? Simple. It’s anything that you put out about working at your company.  This is what a candidate can use to determine if taking a job with you is right for them. Your career website, your job postings, and your social media messaging all works together to create what is known as an employer brand.

If your employer branding message and literature does not truly represent life at your company – it’s false advertising. If you boast “flexible hours and work-life balance,” but every employee is at their desk three hours past quitting time, there is a disconnect. Candidates normally start to turn over within three months of onboarding (right around the time they’ve completed training and are ready to hit the ground running!), especially if they feel that you don’t practice what you preach.

Ensure your recruitment messaging is consistent with your employee experience.

Identify (and recruit) the best people

You know that one employee who just “gets it”? Maybe they have been there for several years, and the processes are all their own. They are loyal, and you can’t imagine working without them. This is your top performer, and you need to figure out what makes him or her tick. Then, you need to find more just like them!

Polling your most loyal employees to find out why they stay is the best way to help identify your company work culture. Maybe your benefits are mediocre, but you have an excellent work-from-home policy. Maybe you’re a small company, and it feels like a family. These are the attributes that make your company special, and you have the first step into finding talent that thrives in this type of environment.

Once you understand the realities of working with your organization, you can build questions about culture into your interview process. This is a great way to weed out the applicants that simply will not be a personality fit for your organization.

Total rewards

Most companies cannot afford to just throw more money at people to get them to stay. And if they could afford it, it still wouldn’t necessarily work! They need to offer total rewards – the whole package.

A great employee rewards package goes above and beyond compensation and benefits, including policies around performance and service recognition, work-life benefits, training and development. These do not necessarily have to be closely tied to money, either. Elements such as a mentorship program, a leadership training program, or regular employee evaluations with opportunities for rewards (lunch with the president, work-from-home policy, or on-the-spot recognition) is all part of the total rewards toolkit.

All companies can afford some aspects of total rewards – and should get creative with incentives that go beyond the paycheque.

Recognition and incentives

Recognition and incentives complement total rewards, with perks like service rewards, peer-recognition programs, goal-specific rewards (productivity, safety, customer kudos, etc.), and appreciation events. Something as simple as an anniversary celebration can go a long way in creating a fun atmosphere in the workplace.

Recognition awards should be tied to performance and success. Top employees, who go above and beyond, should see how going the extra mile directly relates to being rewarded. Programs should be reasonably attainable and simple to understand. Most importantly, it’s crucial that every employee in your company, regardless of department or role, has the opportunity for recognition. For example, don’t just reward your sales team – your customer service team works just as hard to retain your customers!

Create opportunity for career development

Your employees need to be given the opportunity to grow as professionals within your organization. They also need to understand how the experience they are getting directly relates to new opportunities within your company.

Career development programs that you could explore for your employees include: seminars and workshops, opportunities to attend conferences, webinars or self-learning courses, and tuition reimbursement.

Also, do not overlook the importance of advancement within the organization. Programs such as peer-mentorship, job-swapping, leadership training, and succession planning all help prove to your employees that upward mobility is both attainable and encouraged within the company.

Make work fun

Never underestimate the impact of a fun work environment. No employee wants to stay in a job where interacting with colleagues is discouraged. Even if you have a small office, there are things you can do to help ensure that your employees like coming in to work.

Have a social committee to plan special days and events for your staff, and make it a point to encourage breaks and lunch – and I don’t mean employees eating at their desk. An occasional potluck, or board games in the breakroom can also help speed up the work week and encourage socializing.

Inspire creative thinking by encouraging your employees to express their ideas for improvement, or just for having some fun in the office. Something as simple as a whiteboard where you can sketch ideas, or work task-forces to creatively think through problems can be a fun way to develop new ideas.

There is no reason an office can’t be both enjoyable and professional.

Talent retention starts by ensuring that all employees feel that they are part of the success and growth of your organization. Every person wants to feel they have impact, and that their boss sees this. Value your employees by putting some retention strategies in place, and stop losing your top performers!


Sonya Matheson is a recruitment and employer branding consultant with Workopolis. Specializing in candidate experience, she has been working to help companies hire better for over 15 years.

See also:
What Big Data is (and how can it help with your recruiting)
5 steps to setting goals with your team


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