Employee Retention Strategies: Your Checklist for Success

Office workers laughing and happy at work, which helps with employee retention

The past year has brought recruiting and hiring teams face-to-face with an incredible amount of uncertainty and change. It’s forced organizations across industries to find ways to lower costs while maintaining a high-quality workforce. One of the best ways to do this to balance the expensive and time-consuming process of attracting and hiring new talent with increased efforts to retain employees already on the roster.

“Acquiring new talent and bringing them up to speed requires a lot of time and money,” says Jeff Smith, the VP of Strategic Initiatives at 15Five in the Lever-sponsored webinar Your 2021 Guide for Employee Retention. “It makes extraordinary financial sense to keep the people that you have, make sure they’re in the right roles, keep them growing, keep them engaged, and keep them as high-performing as possible.”

In this webinar, several employee retention experts gathered to discuss retention strategy, including: 

  • Jeff Smith, the VP of Strategic Initiatives at 15Five
  • Chelsea Jennings, Founder & CEO Elevate Noir
  • Hakemia Jackson, Executive Coach & Cultural Strategist, Divinely Powered LLC
  • Chris Hloros, Product Analytics Manager 15Five
  • Lance Sapera, VP of Talent Acquisition at Talend

What came out is essentially a master class in strategies and tactics they’re using within their own companies to keep employees satisfied and engaged — and how any company can refine its strategies for the upcoming year.

In case you missed the webinar or want a quick refresher, here are five reasons why you need an employee retention strategy and three tips for getting started.

Want to watch the full webinar? Click here to access Your 2021 Guide for Employee Retention.

5 Reasons Why You Need an Employee Retention Strategy

1) Internal candidates are your MVPs

Keep in mind, it takes an average of 109 inbound applicants or 43 sourced candidates to fill an open position. By comparison, internal candidates convert at the best rate, with just seven internal candidates needed to make a hire. Internal recruiting has also been shown to improve retention rates. And according to data from LinkedIn, employees stay 41% longer at companies that conduct a significant amount of internal hiring versus those that don’t.

2) Onboarding plans determine ramp up speed  

Investing in employee retention is about committing to the long haul. After all, it can take up to two years for a new hire to reach full productivity, assuming employees don’t leave in the meantime. The more your organization can do to create clear and engaging onboarding processes, the faster employees will be able to contribute and engage within their job role. 

3) Turnover is more costly than you think

An estimated $600 billion was spent on employee turnover by U.S. employers in 2019, and research conducted by SHRM shows that replacing an employee can cost between 50–60% of that employee’s overall salary (even more for senior-level employees). Turnover may also have a negative impact on an employer brand and as a result, make future recruiting efforts more challenging.

4) Rewards and recognition actually work

A 2020 Brandon Hall Study found that organizations that give frequent recognition are 41% more likely to see increased employee retention. And while extrinsic rewards and recognition is appropriate for performance progress or milestones, it’s particularly important to offer employees timely, non-monetary recognition for meaningful contributions, too.

5) Employees want development and training opportunities

Ninety-four percent of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. The more employees feel they are invested in, the more likely they are to stay with the company, so providing learning and development opportunities is a powerful way to keep employees engaged.

3 Tips for Refining Your 2021 Retention Strategy 

So, with a fresh perspective on how valuable employee retention is for a growing organization, how do you adjust your recruiting and hiring practices to make sure your best employees stay for the long haul?

Our webinar experts emphasize these three key strategies.

1) Think through the entire employee life cycle

Your retention strategy is not a one-time fix. It starts with recruiting and goes all the way through the employee lifecycle, from onboarding to engagement to internal promotions. Your organization needs to pay attention to what that experience is like for employees and ensure you have policies in place to facilitate those transition points seamlessly. 

In the webinar, Smith reminds companies that retention is not just the responsibility of HR or management. Companies must take a systematic approach that empowers everyone — from leaders to HR to employees themselves — to play a part in the strategy. 

“It’s impossible for an HR team in a company of 500 to have their team of five people work with every employee on their unique set of needs,” explained Smith. “That’s why you need those feedback loops, and that’s why you need to constantly have the end-to-end experience in mind.”

Keep Reading: 3 Reasons to Pay Attention to Your Employee Compensation Strategy

2) Treat your talent like you would your clients 

Executive Coach & Cultural Strategist Jackson advises that if you want to make employees feel heard and understood, it’s wise to take the perspective of treating talent as you would your clients. 

“Just like you explore the needs and desires of your clients, do the same with your talent,” she says. “Then identify how you can provide those solutions, prioritizing different ways to facilitate an ongoing dialogue between managers and employees. For example, incorporating practices such as routine check-ins and conducting ‘stay interviews’ can help managers discover and resolve any employee issues or concerns and keep them engaged.”

Ongoing check-ins are extremely important in today’s remote work environment because managers aren’t able to rely on impromptu conversations in the hallway or break room. Companies that create space within the normal course of work to touch base and have conversations are able to keep a finger on the pulse of how people are doing and let employees know their contributions are valued. 

To illustrate the importance of treating employees like clients, Jennings shares a story of an employee who management thought was very talented but wasn’t being promoted.

“This employee finally went to HR to ask why she wasn’t receiving a promotion and to inform them she was looking for other opportunities,” says Jennings. “When HR talked to her leader, it turns out that next week they were planning to give her this promotion, but nobody had communicated this plan to her. The company almost lost a high-performing employee by not making time to simply check-in.”

Keep Reading: 3 Ways COVID Has Changed Work for Women Around the World

3) Place diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at the forefront of everything you do

Today, employees of all backgrounds, demographics, and orientations are incredibly motivated to find and support employers that prioritize diversity, engagement, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B). Recruiting a diverse talent pool is just one step to becoming this type of organization. DEI&B needs to be tied to your company’s overall business strategy and, in turn, embedded into all aspects of the employee lifecycle.

The best way to support these efforts is to make sure you’re building recruiting processes in a platform like Lever TRM, which has DEI&B built into its foundations. Lever TRM’s Diversity Insights feature allows you to track important demographic information throughout your entire hiring process so you can identify and flag moments where your company is losing out on candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. This feature also equips recruiters with configurable surveys and granular reporting so you can easily export and analyze data associated with your diversity goals. 

This allows an organization to make a true impact on retention because its DEI&B efforts are woven into how new talent experiences the company. When these efforts are reflected in goal setting, company recognition programs, and the appropriate learning, development, and advancement opportunities, DEI&B truly becomes a cultural value.

Click here to learn more about the Lever features that make it easy to hit your DEI&B goals.

Our experts recommend companies take the time to understand what DEI&B means to their unique set of employees, deploying assessment tools and surveys to gain insight into the best policies and programs to implement — as well as the most effective form of accountability as an organization.

“Understand that this is something that takes time,” says Jennings. “Just as your company didn’t make its first million in the first week, DEI&B is something that you grow. Employees appreciate progress. Make sure you are showing them every step of the way and communicating the progress that that’s being made towards the goal.”