Workplace Wellbeing

The Hidden Costs of High Turnover: Why Employee Retention Matters

Prioritizing employee retention enhances overall organizational efficiency and profitability. Here are six ways to implement retention strategies to foster loyalty and satisfaction among your workforce.

Written by
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Dr. Amy Marschall
Spring Health Provider
Clinically reviewed by
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    While the New York Times reports that economists believe the Great Resignation is coming to an end, employee retention remains a vital factor in maintaining a productive workplace. 

    High retention rates are instrumental in ensuring smooth operations and boosting employee satisfaction. This is achieved by avoiding the constant need for training new workers and continuously adapting to changes.

    Here are six effective strategies for retaining top talent and creating an environment that encourages employees to remain committed to your organization’s mission.

    What is employee retention?

    Retention within an organization refers to the effort to keep employees over the long term, thereby reducing turnover from resignations and terminations. 

    According to the Bureau of Labor, Americans stay with employers for an average of 4.6 years. This duration includes employees who may assume multiple positions at an organization, such as those who receive promotions during their employment. In contrast, companies with robust retention practices tend to retain employees for much longer.

    The factors that are beneficial for employee retention contribute significantly to cultivating a healthy and positive workplace culture, ultimately enhancing productivity. Employers who prioritize retention save on costs, achieve superior outcomes, and develop a conducive and positive work environment.

    What are the benefits of employee retention?

    Poor employee retention takes a substantial toll on a company’s resources. According to estimates from Employee Benefit News, losing an employee costs approximately one-third of the employee’s annual salary. The financial burdens experienced in covering their role, finding a replacement, and providing training accumulate quickly. Financially speaking, it proves much more advantageous to keep valued employees.

    Furthermore, locating and vetting new candidates consumes valuable time and energy for both management and HR. Given the uncertainty of whether a new hire will fit seamlessly into the company, there’s a risk of rapid turnover. The Bureau of Labor’s findings indicate that approximately one-third of new employees depart within six months. Insufficient retention can set off a turnover cycle as the organization secures replacements.

    A company boasting strong employee retention fosters an environment where employees can appreciate consistency and stability. Individuals can build strong, positive relationships when working with familiar colleagues and management over an extended period. This, in turn, ensures that expectations remain consistent over time, allowing employees to carry out their jobs effectively.

    Surveys conducted by the Bureau of Labor reveal that organizations with lower turnover rates report higher levels of employee satisfaction. However, it’s important to note that while many workers value consistency in their roles, satisfied employees are also more inclined to remain in their positions.

    What are the challenges of employee retention?

    Many employers who struggle with retention often express their bewilderment at the challenge of retaining employees. While this may reflect their genuine uncertainty, it can also signal a lack of prioritization of retention efforts. It’s not enough for employers to simply state their desire for employee longevity—they must actively demonstrate their appreciation for their workforce and take tangible steps to enhance retention.

    Over the years, countless articles have addressed the topic of employee retention. In the past, it was common for an individual to remain with one company for their entire career, but this is no longer true. 

    This change is partly attributed to younger generations more inclined to seek alternative opportunities when they feel undervalued or come across more enticing offers. Additionally, stagnant wages and limited avenues for career advancement have led companies to inadvertently discourage long-term commitment from their employees.

    What causes low employee retention?

    To boost employee retention, it’s essential to begin by identifying the various reasons that prompt workers to leave. According to a Tiny Pulse survey, 22% of employees left jobs due to a lack of opportunities for career development, while 50% cited issues with management as their reason for leaving. To enhance retention, creating an engaging work environment and addressing any problematic management styles is crucial.

    Furthermore, approximately 21.5% of surveyed employees report they began job interviews when they didn’t feel recognized and acknowledged. Demonstrating employee appreciation is pivotal in retaining valuable workers.

    Another 12% of workers report leaving positions due to an unhealthy work-life balance, which can lead to burnout. It’s important to support employees and cultivate a work environment that promotes well-being to mitigate the risk of burnout.

    How to improve employee retention

    According to the Bureau of Labor, achieving a retention rate of 90% or higher is a significant milestone, signifying excellent retention practices. Whether your organization currently falls within this range or lags behind, it’s worth exploring strategies to enhance employee retention. 

    While each worker may have unique values and priorities influencing their decision to stay, there are overarching practices that organizations can adopt to fortify retention efforts.

    Competitive compensation and benefits

    Inadequate compensation places employees under significant financial stress, forcing them to juggle multiple jobs and divide their attention. When employees feel they’re not fairly compensated, they may experience a sense of being undervalued, which can drive them to seek alternative employment opportunities. 

    Competitive compensation packages demonstrate your appreciation and can discourage team members from seeking employment elsewhere.

    Opportunities for advancement

    Employees with aspirations for career advancement naturally seek their next growth opportunity. Organizations not prioritizing internal promotions risk losing talented individuals seeking their desired career progression elsewhere. 

    It’s crucial to proactively communicate and demonstrate opportunities for advancement within your company. By doing so, you can instill confidence in your workforce, reassuring them that they can achieve their career goals without exploring opportunities outside the organization.

    Professional development

    In addition to offering career advancement opportunities, employers can enhance the value they provide to their employees by creating space for professional development. These opportunities can be costly in specific fields that demand ongoing education, such as medicine or mental health. As a result, professionals in these fields often value employer-supported continuing education.

    Additionally, employers who support and sponsor employees in acquiring new skills and certifications can cultivate a sense of loyalty and gratitude among their workforce. This investment in skills development creates employee loyalty and increases their value to the company as they become more proficient and versatile contributors.

    Positive work environment

    A positive environment is a powerful motivator to keep employees engaged and deter them from seeking a change. What constitutes a positive work environment can vary greatly, so it’s essential to maintain open lines of communication with your employees to understand their desires and needs within the workplace. 

    Demonstrating that you’re actively listening and responsive to their feedback by implementing necessary changes will go a long way in solidifying their commitments to staying with your organization.

    Flexibility and work-life balance

    In a landscape marked by a growing emphasis on mental health and wellness education, many employees are actively seeking work environments that enable them to prioritize self-care and maintain a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives. 

    Employers who encourage and support this balance, offering flexibility where possible, are better positioned to retain their team members.

    Effective management

    Politician Jeff Burkhart once said, “People don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad bosses.” As highlighted earlier, many people cite poor management as a critical reason for leaving their jobs. If your organization struggles with high turnover, it’s imperative to scrutinize management practices. 

    Effective leadership can significantly enhance employee care and develop a healthier work environment. Evaluating and addressing areas where leadership can improve is crucial to reducing turnover and retaining a satisfied workforce.

    Measuring and monitoring employee retention

    Monitoring employee retention can be simplified by tracking their organizational tenure and calculating the annual turnover rate. This provides a foundational metric for assessing and enhancing retention efforts.

    Once you’ve established your retention rate, it’s vital to:

    • Actively solicit feedback from your employees regarding what initially attracted them to your company and kept them engaged
    • Create mechanisms for anonymous feedback to ensure employees feel secure sharing honest responses
    • Implement initiatives that align with employee feedback to address their wants and needs in the workplace

    Remember that feedback is an ongoing, two-way conversation. Cultivate a culture of open communication where employees feel confident expressing their concerns and needs. When an employee displays signs of frustration or burnout, take steps to provide support, whether through increased flexibility, time off, or necessary accommodations.

    Lastly, remember that no company can achieve a 100% retention rate. Employees may depart for various reasons, such as new opportunities, relocations, or career changes. While you can strive to minimize turnover and retain top talent, it’s essential to recognize that some turnover is inevitable. Stay focused on doing your best to support employees throughout their journey with your organization.

    Cultivating a culture of retention and support for a thriving workplace

    Retention is a key component of shaping and sustaining a positive work environment. Employees who feel valued and respected are more likely to stay committed to their organization. Employers can create an environment that promotes employee retention and encourages open communication to better understand and address employee needs and values.

    Investing in retention initiatives fosters a positive work environment and enhances overall organizational efficiency and profitability. Recognizing the link between employee satisfaction and the bottom line, employers can create a win-win scenario where employees and the company benefit from a culture of retention and support.

    ​​Learn how employee promotions can nurture loyalty, enhance motivation, and lead to a more productive work environment.

    About the Author
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    Dr. Amy Marschall
    Spring Health Provider

    Dr. Amy Marschall is a clinical psychologist licensed in South Dakota, Montana, New York, North Dakota, and Florida. She got her doctorate from the University of Hartford in 2015 and completed her internship at the Psychology Training Consortium, Central Region. She has a full-time clinical private practice, Resiliency Mental Health, where she provides therapy and psychological assessments. She is also a speaker, educator, and author.

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