Retention Strategies

Tips and Tools for Employee Retention

Employee retention, especially of your best, most desirable employees, is a key challenge in organizations today. Use these tips, articles, tools and ideas to learn employee retention strategies that will help you retain your best staff. Learn loyalty strategies for employee retention.


Top Ten Employee Complaints

Are you interested in discovering your employees’ most serious complaints? Knowing what makes employees unhappy is half the battle when you think about employee work satisfaction, morale, positive motivation, and retention. Listen to employees and provide opportunities for them to communicate with company managers. If employees feel safe, they will tell you what’s on their minds. Your work culture must foster trust for successful two-way communication.

HR Solutions, Inc., a Chicago-based management consulting firm specializing in employee engagement surveys, analyzed recurring themes in employee surveys and compiled the following top ten list. These are the items employees consistently complain about on surveys and in interviews. How many are true in your workplace?

  • Higher salaries: pay is the number one area in which employees seek change. You can foster a work environment in which compensation and benefits is competitive.
  • Internal pay equity: employees are concerned particularly with pay compression, the differential in pay between new and longer term employees.
  • Benefits programs, particularly health and dental insurance, retirement, and Paid Time Off / vacation days: specifically, many employees raise concerns when employers pass part of their rising costs to employees.
  • Over-management:  often defined by interviewees as: “Too many chiefs, not enough Indians.” Workplaces that foster employee empowerment, employee enablement, and broader spans of control by managers, will see fewer complaints. A popular word, micromanaging, expresses this sentiment, too.
  • Pay increase guidelines for merit: Employees believe the compensation system should place greater emphasis on merit and contribution. Employees find pay systems in which all employees receive the same pay increase annually, demoralizing. Such pay systems hit the motivation and commitment of your best employees hardest as they may begin asking what’s in this for me?
  • Human Resources department response to employees: The Human Resource department needs to be more responsive to employee questions and concerns. In many companies, the HR department is perceived as the policy making, policing arm of management. In fact, in forward thinking HR departments, responsiveness to employee needs is one of the cornerstones.
  • Favouritism: Employees want the perception that each employee is treated equivalently with other employees. If there are policies, behavioural guidelines, methods for requesting time off, valued assignments, opportunities for development, frequent communication, and just about any other work related decisions you can think of, employees want fair treatment.
  • Communication and availability: Let’s face it. Employees want face-to-face communication time with both their supervisors and executive management. This communication helps them feel recognized and important. And, yes, your time is full because you have a job, too. But, a manager’s main job is to support the success of all his or her reporting employees.
  • Workloads are too heavy: Departments are understaffed and employees feel as if their workloads are too heavy and their time is spread too thinly; this complaint will become worse as layoffs; the economy; ability to find educated, skilled, experienced staff; and business demands grow. To combat this, each company should help employees participate in continuous improvement activities.
  • Facility cleanliness: Employees want a clean, organized work environment in which they have the necessary equipment to perform well.

The job satisfaction study included over 2.2 million respondents with 2,100 organizations representing various industries, all surveyed by HR Solutions, Inc.

More Tips to Employee Retention

Competitive salary, competitive vacation and holidays, and tuition reimbursement are three basics in employee retention. Especially for millennial employees, these are the Holy Grail for recruitment and retention. But, employers can reduce employee turnover in many other ways. (If you think these read like the Golden Rule, you're right, they do.) Reducing employee turnover is dependant on the total work environment you offer for employees.

  • Select the right people in the first place through behaviour-based testing and competency screening. The right person, in the right seat, on the right bus is the starting point.
  • At the same time, don't neglect to hire people with the innate talent, ability, and smarts to work in almost any position even if you don't currently have the "best" match available. Hire the smartest people you can find to reduce employee turnover.
  • Offer an attractive, competitive, benefits package with components such as life insurance, disability insurance and flexible hours.
  • Provide opportunities for people to share their knowledge via training sessions, presentations, mentoring others and team assignments.
  • Demonstrate respect for employees at all times. Listen to them; use their ideas; never ridicule or shame them. Via your communication, share that you value them. 
  • Maintain a workplace that accepts and respects individual rights and differences providing an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment.
  • Offer performance feedback and praise good efforts and results.
  • People want to enjoy their work.  Engage and employ the special talents of each individual.
  • Enable employees to balance work and life. Allow flexible starting times, core business hours and flexible ending times, where possible.
  • Involve employees in decisions that affect their jobs and the overall direction of the company whenever possible. Involve them in the discussion about company vision, mission, values, and goals.
  • Recognize excellent performance.
  • Recognize and celebrate success. Mark their passage as important goals are achieved.
  • Staff adequately so overtime is minimized for those who don't want it and people don't wear themselves out.
  • Nurture and celebrate organization traditions. Examples:  Run a food collection drive every November. Pick a monthly charity to help. Have an annual company dinner at a fancy hotel.
  • Provide opportunities within the company for cross-training and career progression. People like to know that they have room for career movement.
  • Provide the opportunity for career and personal growth through training and education, challenging assignments and more responsibility.
  • Communicate goals, roles and responsibilities so people know what is expected.


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