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HR to Go podcast episode 1: Employee retention strategies (transcript)

Click below to listen to this podcast, or keep scrolling to read the transcript.

What do you think your employees would say about your workplace? Do they like coming to work, are they engaged, would your team say that you have an amazing workplace culture and they can’t wait to start the working week? Or are they dragging themselves to work, going through the motions during the workday and using your computer and internet to search for another job?!

The answer to that question lies in your employee turnover statistics.

So why is Employee Retention so Important?

Today’s job market is more competitive than ever, and with employees on the move in their 1000s and job vacancies higher than we have seen in a long time, therefore, retaining your A Players/Key Personnel has never been more important to businesses.

I am sure everyone has felt the effects of employee turnover and understands that it goes far beyond short term disruptions.

For example, replacing an employee is suggested to cost anywhere from one-third to double their annual salary. Obviously, this will be different for each business and largely dependant on the role the employee holds.

And, employee turnover also impacts:
• Employee morale
• Productivity & Business/employee knowledge base
• Customer experience

But we can turn this around…. studies show that employees who feel valued and believe that their employer is invested in their success will be happier, more productive, and more loyal—a win for everyone.

Therefore, the aim is to create flexible, supportive and productive work environment where people thrive.

Before we unpack some of the strategies businesses can adopt to retain their valuable employees, consideration should be given to the fact that retention will look different from business to business and employee to employee.

Every employee’s buy-in will be as individual as they are.

So how do you know what will work for your business and your employees?

Stay interviews
To get a better understanding of what your team want and need, I would suggest utilising stay interviews.

What are stay interviews?

Stay interviews (or retention interviews), are 1-on-1 conversations with current employees about:
• why they like working at your company, and
• what they would change about the business, team, or role if they could.

The main goal is to discover how to improve the employee experience for this specific employee and keep them in your workplace in the longer term.

These conversations can also be used to assess an individual’s flight risk level, which can help your business anticipate hiring needs or jumpstart succession planning.

Once you have this information, you can then start to strategically build your focus around being an employer of choice.

At this point, if you have decided that there is value for your business in engaging with your employees and becoming an employer of choice you are probably wondering about the types of tools or programs you can put in place to elevate your employee retention.

So let’s discuss some of the options now:

1. Invest in your employees professional development & create pathways for growth
According to LinkedIn, 94% of employees say they would stay with their company longer if it invested in their career development.

Career path planning also:
• can help increase employee engagement; and
• provide reassurance regarding the longevity of their career with your business.

Career pathing is a process which enables employees and their managers work together to identify goals and create a learning and growth action plan to achieve them.

Employers can tap into their employees’ desire for development by providing structures like mentorship programs and investing in additional education for their employees.

Training and educating your employees doesn’t need to be expensive or arduous.
• Business Chamber breakfasts
• TAFE short courses

2. Recognise employees’ contributions

Everyone likes to feel valued, and that’s especially true in the workplace.
A 2022 Gallup/Workhuman survey found that when employees feel recognised for their work, they are 56% less likely to look for new opportunities.

Reward performance! It’s that simple!

Recognition doesn’t have to have a $ value attached to it.

A shout out at a staff meeting or a sincere thank you goes a long way.

3. Reassess compensation

In today’s competitive marketplace, compensation is an essential piece of any company’s retention strategy.

No matter how valued an employee may feel, they are likely to look outside their current company if they feel inadequately compensated for their work.

Regular reassessment of industry compensation standards should be a part of your retention strategy.

4. Consider your benefits package

Benefits are a major factor for many employees with survey’s reporting that for 6 in 10 employees, a company’s benefits package is the most important non-salary factor they consider when assessing a job.

Some of the most appealing perks & benefits companies can offer employees include:
• Flexible working arrangements (59%)
• Extra superannuation (35%)
• Unlimited leave (31%)
• Professional development (26%)
• Insurance/finance discounts (19%)
• Lease car (19%)
• Additional paid parental leave (17%)
• Purchase extra annual leave (15%)
• Health / Wellness programs (14%)
• Free food & coffee machines (12%)

5. Prioritise work-life balance

Work-life balance isn’t just a buzzword anymore, it has become front and centre for many employees.
Companies should be working towards creating a work environment where there is balance and boundaries.

How do you implement this in your workplace?
• Encourage breaks and time away from their workstation not only provides the employee with an opportunity to recharge, but also demonstrates a commitment to work/life balance
• Encourage workplace organisation – employees who are organised are going to be more able to step away from work if they need to. Consider workshops on managing workflow and implementing tools to create efficiencies and allow employees to track tasks.
• Have regular meetings to review workloads so you can reassign tasks from one employee to another if a workload is unachievable or creating stress.
Implementing strategies like this in the workplace should assist your team to achieve a better work/life balance

6. Improve organisational culture

While organisational culture may seem subjective, its impacts on retention can’t be denied.
In fact, company culture is one of the key drivers of workplace satisfaction.

While the building blocks of a strong culture vary somewhat from one workplace to the next, strong corporate cultures share key traits such as:
• having and embracing clearly articulated values
• valuing and seeking out employees’ voices
• having strong commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion
• providing supportive leadership.

7. Consider hybrid and remote options

Post COVID, remote and hybrid working is increasingly seen as the norm.
While some roles truly cannot be performed remotely, employers may want to consider offering remote and hybrid options where possible.

Options like requiring core ‘in-office days’ or ‘anchor days’ or recurring in-office meetings can provide the collaborative benefits of a shared workplace without requiring an overly rigid approach.

8. Focus on flexibility

In addition to remote working options, employees are increasingly prioritising flexibility as a desired workplace benefit/offering.

The option to flex hours to accommodate family caregiving, medical needs, or even a simple run to the bank in the middle of the day is considered highly valuable as employees look for better work life balance, and control over their workday.

The ability to dictate how and when work is completed is appealing even if the total number of hours worked remains the same.

9. Support employee wellbeing
There are plenty of tangible benefits to employee wellbeing programs:
1. Reduced absenteeism (sick leave) in staff who are healthy and feel their employer cares
2. Reduced staff turnover
3. Increased productivity
4. Happy employees provide positive reviews and boost your brand

Some of these wellness programs that raise employees’ satisfaction meters are:
• Stress management and relaxation activities
• Mandatory lunch breaks and coffee breaks
• Healthy food options
• Fitness activities
• Flexible work hours
• Clean and safe workspaces
• Training programs
• Career advancement opportunities
• Financial rewards
• Team building programs
• Clubs and social activities

10. Focus on team building

The importance of comradery when it comes to retention can’t be overlooked.

A sense of community and belonging at work is a major factor in employee satisfaction and loyalty.

Cohesive teams are better at collaborating and communicating, and according to a report from Virgin Pulse, 40% of employees cited their co-workers as the main reason they love their job.

Key takeaway: Be responsive and flexible
Every employee is individual and therefore every employee’s benchmark for satisfaction at work will be different.

You've been listening to HR to Go.

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