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  • Writer's pictureJohn Mays

How to improve employee retention and motivation?

A high turnover of staff has a number of ramifications that can negatively affect a business. When staff are resigning from their job, this can often suggest that there is a problem within the internal structure of the company. This can be a variety of things: from now having the correct tools that employees require, to staff feeling disrespected or undervalued because of poor management skills.

The act of hiring and training a new employee is not only time consuming, but expensive too. Plus, when there isn't an established base of employees, current employees may feel frustrated that they have to constantly learn to work with new employees, as this can affect the work flow dramatically, and this can result in decreased employee engagement. The less engaged employees are at work, the more likely they are to look elsewhere for a new job.

When an employee is unhappy at their job, they are much more likely to resign. So, staff resignations can occur as a domino effect, which is detrimental to a business. On the other hand, highly engaged employees are generally happy in their role and tend to stay a lot longer in it.

So, all employees should work to establish great employee engagement in an act to have high retention rates with their staff. To do so, they'll need to address and implement a number of factors to reduce employee turnover.

Why it's important for you to retain employees effectively

First and foremost, the time, stress and money spent on hiring and training new staff are significant. Furthermore, these things aren't the only expensive part of onboarding an employee. When they're unfamiliar and inexperienced with the job, new staff members are much more likely to make costly mistakes.

Companies that have high retention rates tend to have higher morale amongst the staff and great company culture, too. When employees are happy, they are less likely to quit. So, a business with great company culture is less likely to have staff members quitting. And, when fewer staff members quit, there is generally higher morale - so it's really a win-win situation when retention levels don't dip.

The fundamentals of retaining employees

Onboarding process

Everyone knows first impressions are important, and the same goes between a company and a new employee. When a staff member begins their new job, they should be onboarded properly, and be taught about the culture within the company, as well as informed about how they can thrive in their new role. Starting an employee with a positive attitude is an important step towards ensuring their happiness.

Mentorship and training

Pairing a new hire with a mentor is a great way for them to learn the ropes without feeling intimidated. When a new employee starts at a job, they may feel overwhelmed. A buddy program will give them someone to turn to, who is knowledgeable in the job itself. But, this type of partnership doesn't only benefit the new hire. The mentor will have the responsibility of training a new member, which can give them extra drive.

Career planning

Generally, employees who know that they have the opportunity for career development - which usually means a higher salary and more responsibilities - will be more inclined to work harder with the goal of getting a promotion. So, in an effort to achieve increased productivity, employers should sit down with an employee and develop a unique career development program with them.

Helping employees cope with stress

Stressed employees will likely have a low employee engagement, and be unhappy. If this stress is related to the job itself, it can result in an employee resigning. So, it's important to monitor your employees regularly - whether this means checking in for a one on one chat or conducting employee surveys - to see whether they have any issues that can be fixed.

Incentive, recognition and reward

Rewards and incentives motivate employees to work hard. After all, when an employee is doing a great job, and their hard work is appreciated, they will feel respected and generally be inclined to work even harder. Incentives and rewards can be a form of recognition and encouragement. While rewards do tend to cost money, the payoff that's received from the raised productivity is usually much higher.

Flexibility and work life balance

Employee's who prioritise their work over their personal life can end up feeling burnt out, or resenting the job. Plus, staff members who are burnt out or tired may also have lower productivity rates. For this reason, it's very important to implement a healthy work life balance for all of your employees. This can be done in a number of ways, like not allowing overtime or allowing a flexible roster.

Clear communication

Great communication between employees and management is closely linked to a higher level of trust and satisfaction within the work place. This is especially true when it comes to the way that management speaks to the employees that they are in charge of. Employees who feel valued by their superiors, and feel comfortable and confident to communicate with them when a problem arises, tend to have a much higher level of employee engagement. A high level of employee engagement is linked to a low employee turnover rate.

How employee retention looks in a COVID-world

The pandemic has created a number of challenges when it comes to hiring and training new employees. One of the factors that have affected this most significantly is the work-from-home requirement that's been implemented a number of times throughout the pandemic.

If an employee quit during the pandemic, then their new hire will need to be sourced, interviewed and trained before they're able to being their tenure. While interviewing an employee virtually doesn't present too many challenges, depending on the field training and assessment tests may be significantly harder.

Companies have had to adapt to these new changes and find alternative ways to implement measures like training virtually.

Main reasons employees leave

There is a huge range of different reasons why an employee may leave their job role. However, below are some of the most common reasons why employees leave.

  • Feeling uninspired

  • Feel disrespected

  • No potential career growth

  • Lack of professional development

  • Little to no job satisfaction

  • Poor company culture

  • An uninspiring work environment

  • Lack of mentorship programs

  • Lack of structure of feedback

Tips for motivating and retaining staff

Overhaul your awards program

Many organisations have reward programs implemented for employee's who reached a certain goal or benchmark. While this is certainly beneficial, there is much more that proves a worked commitment than just the figures they produce.

Organisations may want to consider awarding employees when they have a great attitude too. Employees that are positive, have a good worth ethic and put their hand up for extra duties should be encouraged, too. Employees who are rewarded for doing a good job, are much more likely to stay in their role.

Conduct regular feedback programs

While exit interviews are commonly conducted when an employee leaves a role, they are less commonly done for employees who are still in the role. Companies should be interviewing their current employees to find out what they like about their role, and what can be improved. This feedback can provide the tools management needs to make changes before the employee resigns.

Provide training and development programs

Organisations should never let their employees fall into a career rut. They can help to avoid this by regularly providing training and development programs that help their employees feel motivated. These programs help employees upskill. Upskilling can have a number of benefits, not only will it motivate employees and give them the drive to continue their career progression, but these skills will be applied within their job which can help the business succeed.

Teach your managers great leadership skills

It goes without saying that employees will usually work very closely with the managers who are in charge of their department. If these managers can forge a good relationship with their employees, and treat them in a manner where they feel respected and comfortable, then this will affect employee engagement significantly. Employees who are treated well and feel happy with their management, are much less likely to leave their job.

However, teaching great management skills is complex, and shouldn't be taken lightly. You can check out our guide about how to teach leadership skills here.

Staying at the forefront of employee culture is crucial to your success

The importance of identifying and implementing measures that will increase your employee retention rate is undebatable. However, if you aren't sure where to start, we have a team of skilled HR professionals who specialise in helping increase employee retention levels in all different fields of work.

Our team can help train your leaders in employee retention strategies, give specific tips where needed, and/or make suggestions for software programs that can lower employee turnover. If you're interested in finding out more, you can contact us.


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