Small Business

5 employee retention strategies to reduce turnover

By: Jean Spencer

When someone quits their job, it’s both an imposition on the company and their customers

According to a survey of 600 businesses between 50 and 500 employees conducted by Zenefits, an HR and payroll company in June 2019, 24.5% of small and mid-sized businesses said “delays to customers” is the number one negative impact of employee turnover. 

But that’s not all…

Loss of productivity, the cost of re-hiring and onboarding replacement workers, and additional stress on the team were also rated as top concerns, with 21.1%, 17.2%, and 10.6% of businesses citing those issues

Still, the ability to service customers (or lack thereof) remained the most catastrophic consequence, indicating that small and midsize businesses rely heavily on their staff to maintain their customer or client lists, and that there is a delicate balance between the number of workers on staff, and how much work a company can take on. 

Businesses struggle to maintain their workload with less than their existing staff levels, and anecdotally we know, too, losing your top staffers is often an even harder hit. 

In fact, a majority of businesses (63.3%) say retaining employees is harder than hiring them.

So what tactics can businesses implement to bolster retention rates and curb quit rates?

The following five employee retention strategies have been demonstrated to reduce turnover and improve employee tenure at real companies.

1. Turn down clients who are tough to deal with

No employee likes to deal with the “bad client.” The guys or gals who constantly complain are sometimes not worth the revenue they represent. Improving your employee’s experience includes considering who your staff has to deal with on the day to day.

Whether you’re in the services industry, restaurants, or products—it doesn’t matter. You have customers, and you always have the ability to gracefully move your business away from those people who become hard to deal with, or turn down proposals with people you know will cause you headaches. 

The added benefit? Your employees will see your saracifc and investment in them. This makes them feel recognized and appreciated. 

2. Develop mentorship programs

Help keep your staff by fostering deeper connections with their work and colleagues. Studies have shown that tenure is improved when people like the people they work with. And conversely, “poor interpersonal relationships” is the number two reason people leave their jobs, second to getting high earnings potential.

You may not be able to offer as much money as the next guy in salaries, but you can absolutely invest time and energy to making the interpersonal relationships at your business be awesome. 

3. Ask your employees about their onboarding experience

As much as 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days, which means first impressions matter. Ask your employees how their first few days or weeks on the job felt. Listen to what they say. And change or alter your onboarding experience based on their feedback. 

“A lot of people do onboarding, but very few evaluate the effectiveness of their programs,” says HR advisor, Lauren Perales, who helps Zenefits clients with HR questions. “Setting up a review cycle shows employers what’s working and what’s not.”

4. Offer the right perks

What kind of business do you run? Who are your clients and what kind of employees will best serve those people? Know what kind of workforce you want to have and then build your perks based on that. Younger people may be more attracted to kombucha on tap, while older workers who may want health insurance options. Similarly urban workers may be interested in commuter benefits, while rural workers may be interested in flexible work spaces. 

Choosing the right employee perks for your workforce will attract and retain the people you want.

5. Give your staffers ownership of your company

There are a variety of ways to give your employees ownership of your company, like stock options, profit sharing, and investment opportunities. But they all do the same thing: get your employees’ teeth in the game. Not only will this boost employee productivity (who doesn’t want something they own to pay them back?) but also incentivizes them to stay longer. If you’re workers are high quality, they will believe that their work can make an impact, and result in boosted business, and ultimately greater wealth opportunities. 

Explore which employee ownership opportunities are right for your business, and consider sharing the wealth with you staff. It could pay off in the long run. 

Looking for more help with employee retention strategies?

The above ideas are designed to get your inspiration ignited, but you may still be hungry. Consistent retention is instrumental in freeing up time for business owners to strategize on growth. You need to have your people in place before you can expand plans. 

Article Topics

About The Author

Jean Spencer

Jean Spencer is the Managing Editor at Zenefits, a full service HR and payroll company for small and mid-size business. Her research and writing has appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Social Media Today.

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