7 Strategies To Retain The People Who Matter Most


Have you felt it? The punch in the gut when one of your best employees unexpectedly submits their resignation letter? Well you’re not alone. As the pandemic continues, employers are experiencing turnover at record rates. Employees are even leaving their jobs without another option lined up.  So what’s driving this behavior and how is it impacting the rest of your employees? More importantly, what can we do about it? If you haven’t started, now is the time for managers to rethink their retention strategies. Below are 7 strategies to increase job satisfaction and retain the people who matter most.

1) Strengthen employee onboarding and orientation

Onboarding an employee into your organization is rarely considered a critical step in ensuring job satisfaction. More often it’s simply a mundane process of completing pre-employment checks and paperwork, but it shouldn’t be. Pull apart your workflow. Create opportunities for additional touchpoints with the employee. Maybe assign another team member to walk them through the process while sharing some insight along the way. Make sure your new hire knows exactly what they need to do and when they will be hearing back from you.

Orientation can make or break a new hire. Their experience on day one will set the tone for the employee’s entire tenure with your company. Do not overwhelm them. Consider an abbreviated schedule for the first few days, especially if they are transitioning back to an office. If they are working remotely, really think through the orientation experience and how you can let your company’s culture shine through. Be sure to check in with your employee frequently, set up a support strategy and use ice-breaker activities to help them get to know their team and get comfortable collaborating.

2) Re-evaluate compensation plans

In a recent study, 25% of employees left their jobs for higher pay. Your employees are probably working harder and dealing with more stressors than ever which is why they need to be compensated accordingly… or else you risk losing them to a competitor. When is the last time you evaluated your team’s compensation and compared it to market averages? Salary.com and Glassdoor will help you view and compare salaries in your area. Even if your business can’t increase pay right now, consider whether you could provide other forms of compensation, such as bonuses. Don’t forget about improving health care benefits and retirement plans, which can help raise employees’ job satisfaction, too.

3) Provide perks

Perks can make your workplace stand out to potential new hires and re-engage current staff, all while boosting employee morale. Some of the most impactful perks have little to no financial cost to the company. Consider flexible schedules outside the standard 8-5 and remote work options.  Time off is also a highly desirable perk that could actually increase employee productivity and engagement. This gives hard working employees an opportunity to rest and recover both mentally and physically.

4) Give feedback and instill value

How frequently are you meeting with your staff to review their performance? Employees need to feel valued and one of the best ways to show them you are invested in their career and success is to schedule regular check ins with them. In fact, many managers are abandoning the annual performance review in favor of more frequent meetings. This provides an opportunity to talk one-on-one with your employees about their short and long-term professional goals and help them imagine what their future with you could look like. Use these meetings to discuss career advancement opportunities and set a plan for achieving those goals

5) Deploy a professional development program

The last thing your employees want is to feel stagnant in their careers while their peers, working for other companies, continue to develop professionally.  Work with each member of your team to identify areas they would like to improve. Together, discover new skills they are interested in learning. If you don’t have the bandwidth in house to develop trainings then partner with a 3rd party. There are many great training partners like

When you upskill your employees you are not only enhancing their competencies, you are empowering them. With knowledge comes power and you should involve more of your employees in critical customer and business decisions. This shows them they are a vital part of the team.

6) Ensure a healthy work/life balance

What message is your time management sending to employees? Do you expect staff to be available around the clock? A healthy work-life balance is essential to job satisfaction. People need to know their managers understand they have lives outside of work — and recognize that maintaining balance can be even more challenging when working from home. Encourage employees to set boundaries and take their vacation time. If late nights are necessary to wrap up a project, consider giving them extra time off to compensate.

7) Don’t pretend everything’s ok when it isn’t

At some point, it seems like most managers were told that above all else they needed to maintain a “positive environment”. The truth is that when a person or organization tries so hard to maintain “good vibes” that they end up  creating “bad vibes” instead by putting unrealistic pressure on employees to feel and act a certain way. This is called toxic positivity and it’s something that has become a hot topic since the pandemic began. If employees do not feel comfortable addressing a concern, fear or challenge with a manager then they have not established trust. Trust between employee and employer is crucial to ensuring job satisfaction.

It’s time for managers to get real and abandon old school philosophies. Let’s face it, we are all experiencing the challenges of COVID together in addition to the stresses of work and personal life. If you have frustrations then guess what? Your team has frustrations too! Don’t add to them by piling on the need to “be positive” every moment. As a manager you need to take the lead, especially if this is a shift from the norm. Allow yourself to be open and vulnerable. Talk to the team about your concerns and open the conversation up to them. Validate all their responses, not just positive ones. Rather than saying “Everything happens for a reason.”, say “That sounds really difficult.” or “Your feelings are valid.”.

These 7 strategies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to increasing increase morale and retain the employees that matter most. It’s important to consistently evaluate and retool your retention plan. This is a great time to apply strategy #7. Let your employees know what you are looking to accomplish and that you are open to feedback and suggestions. After all, no one knows how to make work more enjoyable than the people who are actually doing the work!