Business Leadership Today

How To Maintain Employee Retention (4 Steps)


Matt Tenney, Author of Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom

Many companies are suffering from a talent shortage right now.

Many workers are leaving jobs for better opportunities with companies offering more competitive compensation packages, a better work/life balance, and a more supportive organizational culture where employees are valued. 

Many have left the workforce altogether.

“Workers seem to know that they can quit and get hired elsewhere—and that’s exactly what they’re doing,” as Business Insider points out. 

In April 2021, four million people quit their jobs. Roughly 3% of workers quit their jobs in March 2022. When you consider that the estimated cost of replacing an individual employee can cost up to two times that employee’s annual salary, these numbers don’t bode well for some businesses. 

The huge jump in turnover, combined with the high cost of turnover, has many companies struggling to identify retention strategies that work. 

With 66% of employees claiming they are waiting to review the new benefits their current organizations will be offering before deciding whether or not they will stay in their current jobs, many organizations are reevaluating compensation and benefits.

According to a recent Robert Half survey, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to 88% of human resources managers adding new benefits for employees.

These organizations are responding to workers’ needs for better benefits in an attempt to convince them to stay put. But adding new benefits to compensation packages is not the only thing organizations can do to stop hemorrhaging employees. 

To maintain employee retention, companies have to offer employees a culture that meets their needs in a work environment where they feel valued by also offering the less tangible benefits employees are seeking. 

In this article, we’ll explore four things organizations can do to maintain employee retention:

  1. Develop Strong Leaders
  2. Offer Development Opportunities
  3. Give Employees Regular Feedback and Recognition
  4. Build Trust Through Flexibility and Autonomy

If you’d like to see a free video training program I created that will show you how to dramatically reduce employee turnover in the next three months, just CLICK HERE for instant, free access.

1. Develop Strong Leaders

A Gallup study on employee burnout found that these five factors led to workers leaving: unfair treatment at work, unmanageable workload, lack of clarity and communication from managers, lack of manager support, and unreasonable productivity pressure. 

Having good leadership can mitigate the effects of these five factors

The duration of an employee’s tenure is primarily determined by the relationship they have with their direct manager according to a 25-year study by Gallup, with about 50-70% of an employee’s perception of their work environment linked to the actions and behaviors of management.

The day-to-day interactions employees have with management strongly impact their employee experience and can determine the likelihood a worker will stay in that position. Additionally, leaders play a vital role in shaping organizational culture, which can significantly affect employee retention. 

Having leaders who can authentically demonstrate their dedication to the organization’s core values through their actions and behaviors helps them build authentic relationships with their teams, making employees more satisfied in their roles and more likely to stay. 

Ensuring that leaders at all levels within the organization have the skills they need to lead and lead well is an important component of any organization’s retention strategy. 

2. Offer Development Opportunities

Research compiled by LinkedIn has shown that employees who spend time learning on the job are 47% less likely to be stressed, 39% more likely to feel productive and successful, 23% more able to take on additional responsibilities, and 21% more likely to feel confident and happy.

When companies offer personal and professional growth opportunities, it helps employees achieve their goals at home and at work, leading to greater satisfaction, dedication, and engagement. 

And it is good for retention because it demonstrates to employees that they have a future in the organization that’s worth sticking around for.

Employees need to feel that they are growing professionally, and giving them the support they need to develop their skills and expand their intellectual horizons will help them do that. 

Providing online or in-person training, courses that are role-specific, leadership development, as well as career-pathing for employees fulfills their need for growth and demonstrates that the organization is invested in that growth. 

If you’d like to see a free video training program I created that will show you how to dramatically reduce employee turnover in the next three months, just CLICK HERE for instant, free access.

3. Give Employees Regular Feedback and Recognition

By fostering a culture of feedback that both recognizes the contributions of employees and helps them course correct when needed, you are giving your employees what they need to thrive.

And employees will appreciate this.

Regular feedback, including frequent, specific recognition of employee contributions, helps maintain retention because it shows employees that leadership is paying attention, and it demonstrates that the work they do is seen, appreciated, and acknowledged.

When employees are regularly given feedback and recognized for their achievements, accomplishments, and contributions, they will provide management with useful feedback that can help them do their jobs better.

Author and Business Leadership Today contributor Andrew Freedman advises that the best way to give feedback to your employees is to first set clear expectations for them. Feedback should be aligned with those expectations and presented within a framework that inspires growth through improvement.  

4. Build Trust Through Flexibility and Autonomy

Trust is so important in building strong relationships between leaders and their teams. One of the best ways to build trust is by fostering an environment where employees are equipped with the tools they need to take ownership of their roles. 

How can organizations do this? By being flexible with work schedules and by giving employees the autonomy they need to succeed.

Workers want hybrid or full remote work arrangements or the option to work outside traditional work hours when possible, so that they can work during hours when they are able to perform at their best and that will allow them to maintain a good work/life balance. 

This kind of flexibility provides workers with the autonomy they need to do their jobs well. 

Autonomy has been identified as a major factor in the job-seeking habits of workers, with 42% of millennials indicating they would opt for a position that would allow them to work independently on projects of their choice. It has become increasingly important for workers in remote and hybrid work environments. 

One of the best aspects of autonomy is the trust-building potential it brings to an employee’s experience. It not only demonstrates management’s trust and belief in employees, but it also helps to build employees’ trust in management.

When leaders trust employees enough to not only allow but also encourage them to work autonomously and trust them to do their work well, it results in greater overall job satisfaction and motivates employees to stay with an organization for the long haul.

Matt Tenney is an active CEO who aspires to create the best workplace culture in the world.  Matt is also the author of Serve To Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom, and The Mindfulness Edge: How to Rewire Your Brain for Leadership and Personal Excellence.  Matt is frequently invited to present keynote speeches at leadership conferences and meetings.  His TEDx Talk has been viewed over 1,000,000 times since January, 2020.

Others Recent Articles and Podcast Episodes

Get a FREE

Get a FREE,
Hardcover Copy
of the New Book
by Matt Tenney!

Hardcover Copy of the New Book by Matt Tenney!

(We’ll even pay the shipping!)

Struggling to retain good employees?

Get a free video training that will help you cut turnover in half in just a few months.