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Employee Retention Strategies to Combat Attrition

Most employers strive to create a fulfilling work environment where team members can thrive. So understanding the needs of your employees can go a long way toward preventing attrition and improving retention rates.

What is Attrition?

Aston Carter defines "attrition" as the tangible reasons why employees leave a company. This specifically refers to why employees quit or get terminated.

How Can Employers Prevent Employee Attrition?

To better prevent attrition, employers need to first understand when and where attrition is taking place. Uncovering the root cause of attrition can help inform a larger retention strategy and bridge gap between employers and their workforce.

Do most employees appear to be leaving after the first 30, 60 or 90 days? Is there a certain department within your company that has an unusually high employee turnover rate? Once you identify the “when” and the “where” attrition takes place, you can begin to tackle the “why.”

Employers need to connect with employees to understand what is important to them. While motivating factors and needs can vary based on individual workers, it’s important to look at the question of importance from a high level. What employees want is to feel valued by their company. To understand what value looks like in the workplace, referring to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be a helpful place to start.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, proposed the idea of a hierarchy that explains human needs and motivations. Often depicted as a pyramid, Maslow’s hierarchy contains five levels: physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging, esteem and, at the very top, self-actualisation. According to Maslow, it is only possible to move up the pyramid once lower needs are met. The bottom tiers of Maslow’s pyramid comprise basic needs like safety and resources.

Fair compensation is crucial for the well-being and success of an employee. It can help ensure that those base-level, critical needs are met. Without this, it’s unlikely that additional benefits, even those that appear to match the needs higher on Maslow’s pyramid, will be enough to keep an employee. Those who do not feel that they are being fairly compensated are more likely to leave for an opportunity that meets those needs.

Once compensation needs are met, employees are free to focus on the other aspects of Maslow’s hierarchy, like a sense of belonging and esteem. This is where additional benefits, like flexibility, a supportive culture and professional development, can become a crucial part of a strong retention plan.

Employers need to understand what their employees prioritise to support retention. This strategy may change based on job, skill level or industry. At the end of the day, though, the most important thing an employer can do is show employees that they are valued. This concept of value must begin on Day One.

Employee Retention Strategies

You’ve identified where attrition is taking place and have a better sense of what your employees need to feel valued. Now begins the hard work of strengthening the connection between you and your workforce to combat attrition. There are two different routes you can take: short-term fixes and long-term solutions.

Short-Term, High-Impact Steps to Combat Attrition

There are certain tactics that employers can implement immediately to help stave off employee attrition.

    • Review your salary and benefits. One of the first things employers should do is review their salary and benefits packages, along with their flexible work offerings, to ensure they are in line with the current market. If your company is paying below market, or your additional benefits aren’t in line with what competitors are offering, attrition is likely to continue until the problem is remedied.
    • Examine your current strategies. Employers can also examine their current systems to see where retention efforts can be focused. This may mean creating an employee survey to get honest feedback on business practices directly from the workers. Remember, there can be a disconnect between leadership and employees. What may not register as a problem for a leader may be a huge point of contention for workers. A survey can help employers identify the issues that matter most to employees and make any necessary changes.
    • Evaluate your onboarding and training procedures. It's also crucial for employers to evaluate their onboarding and training procedures, especially if they find high rates of attrition within the first 30 days. These initial days can be critical to employee retention, and optimising onboarding and training can help employees feel valued and supported early on.

Long-Term Solutions to Improve Employee Retention

Quick wins can be helpful, but many companies should prioritise a greater long-term investment to improve employee retention. A particularly important long-term solution is to invest in optimising the employee onboarding experience.

Many employers lose talented candidates because of lengthy onboarding processes or a lack of early support. Some accept other job offers while waiting for processes like background or reference checks to be completed. Others don’t receive the proper training or even equipment in a timely manner, leaving them feeling disengaged and unsupported by their organisation.

Optimising the onboarding experience is a twofold process. Streamlining the process to get employees through the door is an important first step. But employers also need to ensure that they are investing in the right systems, equipment and management to make the onboarding process run smoothly. Do your employees have the technology and equipment they need by their official start date? Are your training programmes helpful and engaging? Do employees have a point of contact they can go to for support during the onboarding process?

First impressions matter to employees, and they need to feel engaged from the very beginning. If they don’t feel supported during the onboarding and training process, they are more likely to leave a job. And with more and more employees onboarding remotely, that engagement piece is even more important.

Even after onboarding, maintaining a high level of touchpoints and communication is an integral part of making both new and long-term employees feel valued. Increased communication is a winning strategy for employees as well as employers. Employees are better able to express their concerns and needs to management, which can make them feel valued within the company. Meanwhile, employers can better address performance concerns, identify gaps in training and keep an overall pulse on employee engagement.