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Strategies for improving employee retention, part I

Employee retention requirements.


In my previous Insights articles on best new hire practices, I explained how even the best candidate selection process would fail without a well-planned onboarding experience. This results in a tremendous financial drain that can easily undermine an otherwise healthy ROI for a company with outstanding, profitable products or services.

  • Ensure a supportive probationary period for new hires  

An Academy of Management study shows that the first 90 days on the job are critical for establishing rapport between a new hire and her co-workers. Without consistent support and clear direction, new employees will be unhappy and not perform to expectation. Research shows that unhappy employees who are not terminated at the end of their probationary period are unlikely to make even through the fourth month.

  • Give employees a sense of purpose

Your company’s underlying vision and mission are the ‘prime directives’ of your company’s culture. If authentic and continually reinforced, they give employees a sense of purpose and forward momentum. Help your employees understand how their individual work fits into the big picture to give them a clear ‘sense of meaning,’ a factor that correlates with a 300% increase in long-term employee retention.

Agile organizations that encourage cross-silo collaboration and creativity have an innate advantage in this area.  Also, be aware that Millennials value meaningful work more than any previous generation. They place the highest priority on being part of a cause that matters.


  • Provide continual employee development opportunities

Orientation training for new employees needs to integrate information about the company culture, i.e., how work gets done, with basic, essential information on how to do their particular job.

Training, whether delivered by an in-house training department or proven, well-credentialed training consultants, should be provided for all levels employees to bring them up to speed on system upgrades and organizational changes. Employees also greatly benefit from professional enrichment training, including such ‘soft skill’ areas as written/verbal communication competencies and emotional intelligence.

  • Invest in as many kinds of employee development as you can afford

By investing in one-on-one coaching, establishing a mentoring program, and paying for or subsidizing formal employee education, retention rises, and your company’s brand is enhanced. Your company gains a deserved industry reputation as a wonderful place to work, helping you attract the best candidates.

  • Describe career advancement options

From the beginning of an employee’s tenure, clarify your expectations for promotion and map out different career paths need they may want to target. This further solidifies your commitment to the employee’s long-term professional development and work satisfaction. Have periodic one-on–one sessions with employees to set goals for advancing in your organization. You can significantly reinforce their productivity and forward momentum if you offer tuition reimbursement, pay for continuing education, certification courses, and professional memberships or conferences.

Employee retention correlates with employee satisfaction. In Part II of this article, I’ll discuss how 360-degree employee feedback, promoting from within and gearing rewards to individual preferences and needs contribute to both.

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