Improve Employee Retention: 10 Data-Driven Tips

In today’s fast-paced working world, “The war for talent” is raging. Workers are quick to jump ship, which is devastating for retention rates. Read on for our advice on how to improve employee retention rates within your organisation.

Improve employee retention.

The US Bureau of Labor statistics suggests “3 million Americans quit their job each month.” If that doesn’t scare you try this on for size… “The cost to replace a member of staff can cost 200% of their annual salary” – The Wall Street Journal.

Do I have your full attention now?

If you aren’t making efforts to ensure your people are happy, healthy and motivated, then someone else will pop up and steal them away. You don’t want that, and we don’t want that to happen to you! Your people are your business. They’re the best “resource” you have too. But if you aren’t interested in keeping them happy and engaged within their roles, then they may not be with you for much longer. Rightly so too!

Other than the harm this causes your wallets – employee turnover will be detrimental to your culture, reputation and company morale. All of which can lead to further turnover… then lather, rinse & repeat! 

1. Feeling Valued As An Individual

We compiled a study into employee NPS (eNPS) and the drivers of employee loyalty… and guess what? Feeling recognised/valued came out at number one again! 

In order to make people feel valued and truly recognise effort – you must understand your people, their situation and the basics of their role. Put simply, you must be able to empathise with them. 

Empathy impacts your ability to motivate and empower your people. If you can’t place yourself in their shoes and understand pain points, frustrations and motivations – then how can you expect to keep them happy and motivate them to be productive?

According to the Center for Creative Leadership, “Empathy is positively related to job performance. Managers who show more empathy toward direct reports are viewed as better performers in their jobs by their bosses.” Recent research by Businessolver clearly highlights the link between empathy and staff retention:

  • “92% of employees surveyed said empathetic employers drive staff retention.”

  • “92% of employees say showing empathy is an important way to advance staff retention.”

2. Doing A Job That You Enjoy

Hire the right people, as retention starts with recruitment!

What I mean by this is that if you don’t hire people who seem passionate about the organisation’s goals and purpose – then you may just be a stepping stone for their career advancement. Whilst this is unavoidable in many cases, it’s advisable to look out for early warning signs in the screening phase of recruitment. 

How can you choose people who will enjoy their role and want to stay? Firstly you should look for people who have been in previous roles for a lengthy period of time. If someone has had 12 jobs in 5 years this is a giant red flag.

A lot of it is about passion. Try to discover people that want to grow within your company and have aligned aspirations.  In order to truly understand someone’s motivations for wanting to work for you, you must meet them in person and discover if they are the sort of character who will add or detract from the company culture. But before you get here, you must first understand the current state of your culture and where you want it to go.

3. Work-Life Balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is incredibly important for your worker’s health and happiness. Failure to take this seriously can lead to very serious health issues arising – including stress, high blood pressure and burnouts. The Oxford Economic suggests, “Focussing on work-life balance will help you draw a valuable talent-pool for new recruits and boost retention rates. It will save time and money, whilst ensuring a high level of in-house talent.” 

Quick tips to boost work-life balance:

  • Encourage time off: A break from work provides time to de-stress, regain focus and re-energise. Make sure your people know you want them to use their annual leave.

  • Encourage short (non-work-related) breaks throughout the day: Try implementing walking meetings, flexible working or a drive to prevent people from eating lunch at their desk.

  • Ask employees for guidance: If you are struggling to think of ideas to help your people, then ask them. They know themselves better than anyone!

4. Pay & Benefits

I understand that budgets may be tight, overheads are extortionate and funds are low. But do you understand just how expensive it is to replace and retrain an employee? 

You may not be able to be competitive when it comes to pay or healthcare but you can make up for it when it comes to employee benefits. “Nearly nine in 10 companies (88%) view incentive compensation and bonuses as key to retaining employees in the next five years” – CTA.

The key is to offer things that other businesses don’t. The absolute basics should be flexible working, healthy vacation packages and performance bonuses. But benefits can go far beyond this. 

Consider offering stock options or other financial awards for employees who exceed performance targets or remain loyal. By offering people part of the business they will feel empowered to help you and your business succeed. This will ensure they feel valued.

5. Trust In The People You Work With

It’s impossible to know everything that goes on within your organisation. If you want to create a thriving culture where people are empowered to succeed, then you must trust them. Try to focus less on employee behaviours/methods, and focus more on outcomes. Everyone works in their own way, trust them to fulfil their duties – otherwise what was the point in hiring them?

Remember that trust is forged through actions not words. So start practicing what you preach and witness how trust and accountability will spread through the business.

6. Quality Of Leadership

You must understand your people if you want to be an effective leader and motivator. Speak to them regularly, learn the business pain points and demonstrate you care by showing interest in work practices and outcomes. You can’t be an expert in every area but it’s essential to learn what you can – so you can empathise, motivate and recognise great performance. 

You must be honest! As mentioned previously, trust is absolutely essential. Don’t just tell people the good news… and don’t sugar-coat the bad bits. Instead, communicate the problem and include your plans to overcome it and come back stronger. You can also include your expectations and forecasts for the business and all the staff.

7. Career Development

It’s hard to improve staff retention if employees feel their career is stagnating. Meet with your people regularly and co-create goals for personal career development. All plans should include a clear roadmap to success with time frames to ensure clarity. 

A clear and open approach will reduce concerns, improve understanding and motivate everyone to succeed. Keep everyone up to date with accomplishments, targets, next steps and anything else that will boost transparency.

8. Ability To Speak Your Mind Openly & Honestly

Communication is key! Listen to your employees and create an open dialogue with them – which involves listening, digesting and replying. This will help you understand staff sentiment and visualise your culture. By creating an environment where your people feel comfortable enough to reach out you will promote trust, honesty and transparency. You will also create a warm and thriving culture where people want to come in and contribute to the business. 

By implementing employee engagement solutions you will have the dialogue our people require. They will have a platform to voice ideas, successes and even plans to create positive change. This will be based on data, not assumption or instinct, which ensures it is relevant and meaningful. Do all of this and staff retention will look after itself.

9. Having Control Over Your Work (Autonomy/Flexibility)

“When employees are given the freedom associated with autonomy, job satisfaction rises. It’s theorised that this increased level of job satisfaction in employees stems from a feeling of greater responsibility for the quality of their work. Autonomy has also been shown to increase motivation and happiness, along with decreasing employee turnover.” – Houston Chronicle

Autonomy relates to the amount of freedom your people have. Businesses that truly offer autonomy allow their people to work in a manner that suits them. They can decide how, where and when their work is done. Assuming everyone completes their tasks on time, does it really matter how they get the job done? Autonomy comes hand in hand with trusting your people. If you don’t have trust then you’re doomed from the outset.

10. An Interesting Role

This is tied in with point 2 “Doing a job you enjoy” – where you must hire the right people. But it goes further than that. People may be in their dream role but if they don’t feel stimulated or challenged enough then they may become disillusioned and disengaged. 

CEO at Fathom, Gareth Dunlop summed this up nicely at our Happiness and Humans Conference last summer at the Google Offices in Victoria:

He suggests that organisations try to attract people with flexibility and comfort. But in order to truly engage them, you should empower people to leave their comfort zones and have a purpose in the company culture. 


Enjoy High Employee Retention & Engaged Workers

I’ll finish with a quote from our Head of Global Happiness, Matthew Phelan – “It’s a known fact that people are at their best when they are at their happiest, so I’d encourage companies to consider their people at the heart of everything they do. Collect their input, they are the face of your business and brands and those on the frontline are your product experts. Make them feel valued.”

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Recommended reading

Employee Engagement: What You Need To Know

What Is eNPS & How Can You Improve It?

Vivobarefoot: A B-Corp Transformation Journey

About The Happiness Index

The Happiness Index helps organisations measure the key employee engagement AND happiness drivers to power their people strategy.

Our unique platform offers the products, insights and tools to shine a light on your cultural health and empower management to drive thriving cultures.

Our neuroscience-based pre-built surveys measure the full employee experience - from onboarding to exit to empower and enable organisations to understand their people and create data-led action plans.


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