Effective management strategies that increase employee retention

Most company leaders would agree that their greatest asset is their employees. That’s why it can be so crushing, not to mention expensive, when a good employee packs their bags and heads for greener pastures. How can companies create effective management strategies to hold onto their best workers, especially in such a competitive economy where it’s become normal for workers to jump ship a dozen times or more in their career?

What it costs to lose a good employee

According to The Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report, losing an employee costs a company 33% of that employee’s salary. That rings up to $15,000 per employee earning the median salary of $45,00 a year.

Cost isn’t even the biggest drawback of losing an employee. Companies must expend time and energy to evaluate, hire, and train a replacement and absorb lost productivity while the new employee gets up to speed. Departing employees also take a lot of valuable institutional knowledge with them, which can further slow down the office.

With so much on the line, why aren’t businesses better at keeping hold of great employees? Today’s up-and-coming millennials are famous for their job-hopping ways, with studies suggesting they may switch jobs up to 20 times throughout their careers. Company leaders may think our historically low unemployment rate is to blame for opportunistic job shifts, but a historically competitive job market is only part of the issue. According to a Gallup Poll, a staggering 87% of employees report feeling disengaged at work.

If companies want to hold on to their employees, they’ve got to think seriously about implementing effective management strategies to retain their best workers.

1. Set clear expectations

It may sound obvious, but employees need to know what leadership expects from them in order to feel like they can succeed in their careers. This requires managers to set clear goals and to provide consistent feedback to employees.

Millennial workers, in particular, value feedback. As an article for Gallup Workplace explains, “Millennials have grown up in an era of remarkable connectedness. They’re used to receiving instantaneous feedback from parents, teachers and coaches.” A Gallup Workplace poll found that only 19% of millennials say they receive routine feedback at work.

Try this: Consider reworking your employee evaluation process. Instead of conducting a single, nail-biting evaluation each year, try creating a system of more regular and casual “feedback meetings” where you can provide clear, actionable feedback to employees.

2. Give your employees autonomy

No one loves a micromanager, but even companies that give their employees some freedom may not be going far enough. Employees want to feel like they have control over how they perform their jobs. Offering your employees more autonomy over how they do their jobs shows trust and respect and gives employees a feeling of ownership over their work. A study performed in Taiwan surveyed 1,380 workers at health centers and found that greater autonomy was linked to higher work satisfaction and a lower intention to leave the job.

Try this: Challenge your employees to take more ownership of their jobs. Encourage them to pitch their own projects or ask them to come up with ways they can do more with less oversight.

3. Offer growth opportunities

We are long past the days when most workers viewed their careers as simply a means of earning a living. These days, workers view their careers as a holistic part of their lives and expect continual growth opportunities. Companies that can’t deliver may find their employees searching for competitors who can.

According to the American Psychological Association, “Opportunities for growth and development help employees expand their knowledge, skills and abilities, and apply the competencies they have gained to new situations.”

Try this: Review career growth opportunities within your company. Do you have a robust mentorship program? Do you offer tuition reimbursement to employees? Look at ways to create development programs within your organization so you can effectively turn today’s best young employees into tomorrow’s powerhouse managers.

4. Show employees you care


Employees want to feel respected and supported in their careers. Sometimes, a “thank you for your work” goes a long way to helping employees feel appreciated. Another way companies can demonstrate how much they value their workforce is to offer highly prized benefits, like health insurance, paid family leave, or even a gym membership.

Not every company has the funds to be to offer each employee a $2,000 annual vacation stipend like Airbnb or unlimited parental leave like Netflix, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a fun way to show you care. How about bringing in lunch after the end of a big project or using Poll Everywhere to host trivia contests every Friday with fun gifts for the winners?

Try this: Survey your employees and ask them what workplace benefit they most want. Also, sit down with your management team and determine how you can create fun, authentic employee appreciation experiences for your team.

5. Increase work flexibility

Today’s workers care more about achieving a good work-life balance than ever before. Parents want to spend more time with their kids, younger workers want to leave early on Friday so they can head out of town for a weekend getaway, and older workers want to spend more time with friends or on their personal hobbies.

According to the 2017 Retention Report, roughly 12% of respondents switched jobs to achieve a better work-life balance, and the 2018 Global Talent Trends study reported that 51% of employees wanted more flexible work options.

Try this: Consider offering flexible start and end times at the office, creating a schedule that allows for every other Friday off, or letting employees work remotely.

Stay competitive

The unemployment rate in the United States remains at an epic low, which means your best employees have more career choices than ever. If you want to keep them and maintain a well-oiled, productive office, it’s important to consider how to treat your employees like the superstars they are.
Poll Everywhere can help you implement effective management strategies to retain your workforce. Our Competitions are an excellent way to boost morale and inject some serious fun into the office, but that’s not all we can do. Use our polls to ask your employees how you can better serve them. Create surveys asking about the level of feedback they want, what learning and growth opportunities they wished they had, and what company benefits they’d like to see.

By listening to your employees and giving them what they want, you may be able to turn your best workers into company lifers.