5 Tips to Improve Employee Retention

Christine Campbell, Business Development Manager at Nelson

With local unemployment rates at historic lows, North Bay employers are not only having trouble finding new employees but also keeping the ones they have.

Today’s hot market means that even employees who are not actively seeking a new job may leave if the right offer comes along. Those with specialized training or skills are especially at risk.

What’s a North Bay employer to do? For some perspective and tips, we turned to Christine Campbell, Business Development Manager at the local workforce solutions company, Nelson.

73% of workers are open to hearing about new opportunities.

Understand Every Employee is a Potential Job Seeker

Millennials are more likely than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers to leave their roles in the next two years,[1] and TopResume estimates that 73% of workers are open to hearing about new opportunities.[2] Employers need to be constantly aware of the state of their workforce and proactively plan retention efforts.

People will leave an employer if they do not see a path for career growth.

Provide Growth Opportunities

Invest in retention strategies to increase the likelihood that employees will stay and grow with your company. Prove to your employees you want them to stay by defining and sharing paths for upward trajectory and providing training to achieve those next steps.

Employees join companies, but leave managers.

Train Managers Well

If you’re seeing consistent turnover in a certain position or department, sit down with the manager in charge and assess the situation. Getting the best out of people while still meeting organizational goals is a complex skill that must be learned and practiced. Providing employees, especially managers, opportunities to receive such support is an excellent way to reduce turnover and improve retention.

Employers spend, on average, around a third of a manager’s annual salary to hire a replacement[3]


Increase Compensation and Benefits

Employees leave for lots of different reasons, but often, it just comes down to money. If you can’t offer pay increases across the board, consider other forms of compensation, like a bonus tied to performance or length of service. Boost your healthcare benefits if you can, and assess whether offering other perks, such as flex time or family-friendly benefits, will help you retain employees.  It’s important to understand what the market is offering…and absolutely essential to know what your employees want and need from you financially.

Paid volunteer time, a dog-friendly workplace, and free food are examples of perks offered by Sonoma County employers.

Pay Attention to Workplace Culture & Other Factors

If your salaries are competitive and you are still seeing retention and attraction challenges across the organization, do some research to see if adjustments to your workplace culture are in order.

Work with your teams to identify ways to show employees you care about them. Employee events, dress-down Fridays, or group charity projects are just a few examples.  Just remember: offering free food and paid volunteer hours is pointless if management tolerates an unsafe, unethical, or hostile work environment. More important is a consistent, positive workplace culture that supports your employees.

Next Steps

Some experts estimate that up to 75% of turnover is preventable[4]. But it takes time and commitment to root out why people are leaving and adjust your strategy accordingly.

With limited resources, how do you optimize your company’s retention without sacrificing recruiting, sourcing, or other HR functions? One solution is to work with a staffing firm such as Nelson, who can help you determine when to outsource and when to leverage your internal resources.


[1] Lightspeed/Rubbermaid (2017) Two in Three Millennials Would Give Up Social Media if Everyone at Their Company Recycled https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/two-in-three-millennials-would-give-up-social-media-if-everyone-at-their-company-recycled-300435136.html

[2] Talent Inc. (2017) TopResume Survey Reveals: Most Professionals Have a Wandering Eye for Making a Career Move https://www.talentinc.com/press_2017-02-03

[3] HRDive.com (2017) Study: Turnover costs employers $15,000 per worker https://www.hrdive.com/news/study-turnover-costs-employers-15000-per-worker/449142/

[4] HRDive.com (2017) Study: Turnover costs employers $15,000 per worker https://www.hrdive.com/news/study-turnover-costs-employers-15000-per-worker/449142/

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