Insights & Articles
Posted on 18 November 2018

Six factors influencing employee retention

6 minute read

You want to keep your employees satisfied. Hiring is expensive, and training is time-consuming. The best companies hold on to their staff. Businesses can’t afford to not care about their employees’ happiness.

There are a number of factors affecting employee turnover and whether an employee is happy and engaged at work. While they may seem obvious, many employers underestimate the importance of investing in their employees’ individual wellbeing and satisfaction as a strategy to stop them from leaving. In fact, some employers don’t even consider all of the variables that could impact employee retention.

In this article, we’ll cover six factors influencing employee retention and ways in which employers can improve it!

1. Onboarding and training
A report from SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) shows that recruitment practices themselves strongly influence employee turnover. In fact, a failure to consider retention at this early stage could see you missing out on the best employees from the start.

Even once an employee is on your team, a failure to implement training can also threaten retention. Sadly, only a fifth of employees report receiving this workplace benefit in the last five years.

What to do:
Onboarding issues are primarily rooted in unrealistic job portrayals during the interview stage. If you aren’t upfront about your precise expectations or the responsibilities that fall within a role, there’s a high chance employees will fail to stick around. By being honest, you can ensure that all applicants are 100% clear on expectations from day one, making it more likely that they’ll remain with your company.

When it comes to training, simply offering opportunities and investing in the development of your staff puts you ahead of the game. If you become the exception to the rule, and provide opportunities for growth and development, you can ensure that you keep employees onside and envisioning a future with you.

2. Flexibility
Flexibility is a business buzzword at the moment, and with good reason. As many as 89% of British workers believe they could be more productive with higher levels of flexibility. While remote working takes the helm, employees are also crying out for flexibility around appointments, life events, and more.

As flexible working arrangements become the norm, employers who don’t consider this are sure to start feeling hot under the collar. Modern workers simply won’t stick with the traditional restrictions of the 9-5 and are sure to start looking elsewhere if that’s all you offer.

What to do:
Simply be more relaxed where possible. If someone has a big project that doesn’t require a lot of collaboration, let them know that they can work from home for a few days. Invest in the cloud infrastructure required to enable remote working. Maybe most importantly, don’t make people feel guilty for taking a holiday. If someone is getting the job done, don’t micromanage where they do it.

By implementing flexibility in critical areas, you should find that high employee turnover becomes a thing of your past. Who would give up a benefits package that’s 100% suited to their needs, after all?

3. Financial insecurity
You may assume that payment is a vital factor influencing employee retention, but that isn’t altogether accurate. Unlike other issues mentioned, studies show that the compensation you offer can only help retention when paired with other critical components. Despite that, financial insecurity is most definitely behind many high turnovers.

It’s not difficult to work out that an employee who’s worried about money isn’t going to be as productive or happy at work as they should be. If another company came along offering a better salary, said team member is liable to jump ship without a second thought.

What to do:
Paying employees more is not always easy for a business. But if you want to minimise turnover, you need to make sure that you are at least paying competitive wages. If staff can only get a ‘bit’ more by moving companies, other positive factors about your business can keep employees on-board. If you can afford to pay your staff more than the going rate, you can remove the uncertainty of retention almost altogether. Few employees will think about leaving when they’d struggle to get even close to the same pay packet elsewhere.

4. Work-life balance
The majority of parents cite a lack of balance as a critical contributor to workplace dissatisfaction, and they aren’t alone. Employees no longer want constraints that stop them from doing the things they love. This is what makes remote work such a vital retention component, and it’s why work-life balance should always be at the front of your mind. Any manager who fails to consider this will soon find themselves in trouble.

What to do:
You should do whatever possible to help employees achieve the balance necessary for a happy and productive working life. This could mean remote working or later hours to suit daytime commitments; it all depends on needs. You won’t want to compromise on workload, of course, but allowing team members to work to their own schedule (at least some of the time) is vital.

5. Management
People leave managers just as often as they leave jobs. According to a Totaljobs study, 49% of UK employees have left a job because of a poor relationship with their manager.

Poor management in the form of lousy structuring or unnecessary strictness can destroy everything from productivity to workplace wellbeing. More pressingly, it can cost employee retention in a significant way.

What to do:
Settling on the right management style is, of course, difficult, but it’s vital for keeping employees on board. Simple things, like giving employees the space they need, can make a huge difference here. Equally, sending out regular anonymous surveys for employee feedback can help you to tailor your management style to suit workplace needs.

Whatever you do, don’t go over the top with discipline, and definitely don’t spend all day actively attempting to make employees respect you. That’s as good as asking for an increased turnover.

6. Recognition
Linking with poor management style, a lack of recognition can have a significant impact on employee turnover. No one enjoys feeling underappreciated, after all, and an ongoing lack of recognition is sure to see employees seeking the attention they deserve elsewhere. Shockingly, however, around 65% of workers feel unappreciated in their current roles. That’s something you need to address if you’re to stand a chance at improving retention anytime soon.

Even if a lack of recognition doesn’t immediately cost your best employees, failure to take care of this will lead to low morale and faltering productivity. That then leaves the doors wide open for companies that offer notable recognition procedures and processes.

What to do:
There is a range of options for improving recognition efforts to make sure that doesn’t happen. Promoting from within and making it clear that there are internal pathways for growth can be key. However, smaller gestures, like simply telling people that they did a good job, can go a long way.

Comradery and a culture of appreciation is a driving force of success and motivation in smaller companies. However, it can be far harder to duplicate as the business scales. With ever more people, being able to communally communicate becomes hard — much less ensuring that the right people are recognised for their achievements in a way that will matter.

Increasingly, technology is being deployed to create digital spaces where recognition can take place, allowing large businesses to create a sense of community not restrained by physical limitations. Taking cues from social media, tech-firms have developed recognition-focused apps that enable employees to encourage each other and allow management to publicly congratulate individuals for doing a good job.

The most sophisticated of these apps have put a lot of thought into removing some of the distracting features of platforms like Facebook. For example, by removing private messages and changing some of the ‘like’ options, you can reduce the number of ways the platform can be used for unintended purposes.

To make sure you always give recognition where due, it’s vital to build a recognition programme that everyone can enjoy.

The bottom line: ensure your employees are getting what they need

Employee retention should be a priority for any manager looking to enjoy benefits such as –

  • Lower employment costs
  • Increased loyalty
  • Improved morale
  • Better customer experiences
  • The best employees on the market

While employee happiness might not always be the easiest goal to achieve, doubling your retention efforts needn’t be as difficult as you imagine. In fact, most of the points mentioned in the body of this post rely on one simple thing — your ability to meet employee needs.

By putting team members first in everything you do throughout the workplace, you should find that retention is within your grasp at last. And, that could be just the thing for getting you closer to the success you’re aiming towards with your team.

If you’re thinking about implementing a recognition and reward strategy in your organisation, why not take a look at the Rippl platform? It combines incentives, recognition and reward to help organisations maximise the potential of your people and boost employee retention.