How to Reduce Employee Attrition: 11 Strategies to Retain Your Best People
Another goodbye cake, another farewell email. Employee attrition is still a significant problem following the Great Resignation, with companies like Amazon experiencing annual turnover rates as high as 150%.
You will walk away with actionable strategies, expert commentary, and company examples showing you hold on to your top talent.
📉 How to reduce employee attrition: 11 Actionable strategies
Decrease voluntary turnover by first anticipating your employees' challenges, then taking steps to mitigate them.
Here are eleven common reasons employees choose to move on, complete with strategies to flip their decision.
Strategy 1: 💰 Overcome low pay
In a period of economic uncertainty, lower-wage employees may struggle to meet rent or mortgage payments if their annual salary isn't keeping pace with the rise in inflation. Even your most loyal workers may turn their heads towards a rival employer promising a more competitive salary.
When budgets are tight, significantly hiking compensation may not always be possible. Still, there are several steps you can take:
- Researching the current job market: This enables you to understand what other companies are paying employees in your industry for comparable roles. Third-party benchmarking companies can support this step by providing data on average market rates.
- Communicate with your workforce: If you pay above average, you can share this information with your employees as reassurance that it's not worth seeking a position elsewhere.
- Consider your perks and benefits packages: Employees value paid leave, a flexible schedule, and any other perks which make them feel valued. To retain the best talent, ensure your benefits package is competitive with access to medical cover, stock options, financial planning, etc.
- Redistribute recruitment budgets: If staff are content and not looking for another job, you may save significantly on hiring costs in the long term. Use this money on employee engagement instead.
- Introduce a bonus program: We interviewed Gemma Bullivant, a Strategic HR, Reward, and Executive Coaching consultant, who told us:
"An incentive tied to specific achievements, when implemented correctly, enables employees to earn more, based on their performance without increasing fixed salaries. If designed and implemented correctly, the increased performance can pay for the incentive."
➡️ Check out our guide to conducting compensation reviews for more tips on handling conversations about pay.
Strategy 2: 🌱 Create career growth opportunities
If your employees can't see how they'll forge ahead with their professional development at your company, they may find other job opportunities that help them progress toward their career goals.
Gemma Bullivant explains, "Providing a clear path for career progression within the organization is a powerful way to encourage people to stay. Employees are more likely to stay if they can see exactly what they need to do to get promoted and/or get a future pay rise."
Prevent job-hopping by offering the following career advancement opportunities in your company:
- Regular employee training: Provide resources for your team members to grow, creating customizing learning plans via access to training management systems or learning experience platforms.
- Job secondments and lateral moves: Growth and development don't have to be a vertical move up the career ladder. Moving horizontally to a different role or department enables employees to pick up new skills, experience a range of management styles, and gain the support of a fresh team.
- Mentorship and coaching: Pair up employees with more experienced colleagues in your organization, so they can learn from someone who understands your culture and values.
- Leadership development opportunities: Offer your most talented individuals access to workshops, seminars, or conferences related to management to hone their leadership skills.
- Cross-functional task forces and special projects: Invest in high performers by allowing them to take on tasks outside their scope, such as leading strategic initiatives. This builds confidence and increases job satisfaction, vital to long-term loyalty. Plus, ithelps them develop core management competencies.
- Continuous feedback: The best managers understand the impact of consistent feedback. Keep your team engaged and motivated by setting realistic goals, offering praise, providing constructive criticism, and responding to their questions promptly.
➡️ Check out our guide to improving career development in your organization and our analysis of 8 career development tools for building a thriving and engaged workforce.
Strategy 3: 🌐 Improve workplace culture
Company culture is the bedrock of your organization, and it must always support employee retention.
A Nectar research of 800 employees proves why: 93.5% would stay at a company for 5+ years if paid fairly, and the culture was great.
Developing a positive work environment can lift employee morale and ensure people are happy to attend work daily.
Here's how to craft a workplace culture your employees won't want to leave behind:
- Invest in relationships: Set aside time for your team members to get to know each other outside official business. This could be an informal gathering in the office, organized team activities, or employee socials.
- Encourage collaboration: Create opportunities for your employees to work together across teams and departments, promoting communication and fostering a collaborative environment.
- Prioritize mental health: Provide access to professional resources if employees are struggling with stress, depression, or anxiety or if they simply need some advice.
- Listen to your employees: Encourage an open forum where people can express their thoughts and ideas and ensure their voices are heard.
➡️ Learn how to conduct an impactful employee engagement survey to understand sentiment about your corporate culture better.
Strategy 4: 🤗 Provide a sense of belonging
Belonging is the often overlooked extension of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that turns DEI into DEIB. Where diversity relates to workforce representation, equity is about creating fair working practices, and inclusion allows employees to express their ideas; belonging ensures a psychologically safe space for your team members.
If your employees are scared to bring their whole selves to work for fear they don't belong, they're more likely to quit. Here's how to make room for everyone in your organization to fit in:
- Collect employee feedback: Send out regular pulse surveys and ask questions like "Do you feel you belong in this organization?", "Does your manager make you feel welcomed?", "Does your team make you feel welcomed?". Use the results from these questions to investigate where your organization may be lacking in its DEIB initiatives.
- Celebrate diversity: Organize events or activities celebrating different cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs. This allows everyone to share their heritage with colleagues and create understanding across groups.
- Promote intergroup contact: Encourage employees from different departments to collaborate on projects, sparking meaningful conversations and helping build relationships across teams.
- Incentivize team building activities: Offer incentives for your managers to lead group activities or volunteering initiatives that bring people together and inspire connection.
- Stamp out workplace bullying: Team conflict can be constructive if it leads to progress, but there's never a place for bullying or harassment in the workplace. Create an environment of mutual respect and ensure that managers swiftly address and deal with issues appropriately, involving HR as required.
➡️ Check out Zavvy's connection programs to allow employees to develop workplace relationships.
Strategy 5: 💼 Overhaul inefficient leadership and management styles
Gallup research reveals that poor management accounts for up to a 70% variance in employee engagement, ultimately impacting employee churn.
Leaders have the power to inspire, motivate, and progress their employees throughout their tenure, but the opposite is also true. People Management reports that two in five employees have quit a job due to a bad manager. And more than half of people considering leaving their roles are doing so because of their boss.
Avoid this happening in your company by taking the following action:
- Train managers: Provide your leaders with the tools required to manage effectively. Offer dedicated leadership training or workshops about effective communication, constructive feedback, managing workloads, and handling difficult conversations. Mentoring relationships between established leaders and managers with less experience can also be beneficial.
- Establish clear expectations: Never neglect manager performance targets; your leaders must continue progressing as individual contributors should. Ensure leaders understand what success looks like in their role and create goals for them to work toward.
- Actively listen: Ensure your managers are available to team members and listen to their ideas and concerns rather than following a top-down leadership style. Encourage supervisors to ask employees for upward feedback about their work and take action based on that information.
➡️ Check out our manager onboarding guide for more strategies, or learn more about the different directions of employee feedback in this ultimate guide.
➡️ We also have detailed guides on leadership training topics and how to craft an effective leadership development plan.
Strategy 6: 🔋 Boost low employee engagement and satisfaction rates
The global workplace is suffering from an engagement problem. Gallup's State of the Global Workplace 2023 data reveals that less than a quarter of employees feel engaged at work. 59% are not engaged, and 18% are actively disengaged.
Low engagement and satisfaction undoubtedly lead to attrition, but turning this situation around depends on understanding the root of why employees don't feel connected to their work. We spoke to Amy Brann, Author, and Director of Synaptic Potential, who provided her recommendation:
"Whatever the reason employees are quitting, the first thing to check is how well they are being engaged in their contribution. This means becoming a detective and examining how their awareness is being drawn to what they are positively giving to the organization (and the wider world) as a result of their daily work.
When leaders and managers increase the mental touch-points with the individual's contribution, they are more likely to activate the brain's reward networks, which offers a range of benefits!"
Strategy 7: ⏳ Address poor work-life balance
High childcare costs, long commutes, and burning the candle at both ends all contribute to employees choosing to jump ship due to a poor work-life balance.
Happy employees must be well-rested, so one of the critical strategies to reduce attrition should center around giving team members the freedom to disconnect:
- Encourage employees to take their annual vacation allowance and not feel guilty about taking time off.
- Set a realistic workload that employees can perform within regular working hours instead of expecting people to stay late regularly or work excessive overtime.
- Establish clear boundaries between work and non-work time. This includes turning off notifications outside of hours, setting expectations about responding to emails at certain times or on specific days, and encouraging employees to unplug from work in the evenings.
Strategy 8: 🛋️ Offer flexible work arrangements
Gemma Bullivant strongly believes, "Offering flexible work options, remote work options, additional paid time off, or the ability to curate your benefits are of significant value to many employees."
Flexible schedules and working arrangements enable employees to manage family commitments, other interests, and mental health. For example:
- Flexible start and stop times enable people to work when they're most productive. Similarly, compressed hours in a four-day or frontloaded workweek give employees extra time to relax.
- Remote working offers freedom for employees who want to work from home or travel during the day without taking leave to accommodate things in their personal lives. This can be a game-changer for working parents and crucial for closing the gender pay gap by allowing women to progress with their careers.
- Reduced hours or sabbaticals allow employees to take extra time off when needed. For example, some workers may need time to care for elders or other dependents. In contrast, others may want to spend extra time on a hobby or professional training unrelated to their current role.
- Job sharing is ideal for those who want to take on a smaller workload without giving up their career.
➡️ Check out our comprehensive guide to implementing flexible work arrangements.
Strategy 9: 💭 Combat varying attitudes toward work
The modern workplace accommodates up to five different generations, including:
- Silent generation: Born between 1925 and 1945
- Baby boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964
- Gen X: Born between 1965 and 1980
- Millennials: Born between 1981 and 1996
- Gen Z: Born between the mid-90s and early 2010s
Each of these generations has a different attitude towards work, shaped by their experiences and societal changes. While Baby boomers and the silent generation are most likely to choose a job for life, Millennials and Gen Z workers are the most challenging categories to retain.
Gallup research suggests that 21% of Millennials have changed jobs in the past year, while Gen Z tends to be more career-driven and financially motivated than Millennials.
Here's how to devise a retention strategy that accommodates all generations:
- Be inclusive: Ensure that ageism is never an issue in your workplace. Older workers have many years of experience behind them. In comparison, younger workers can offer fresh perspectives and gems from their recent training.
- Allow employees to explore different roles within the organization, catering to the curiosity and adaptability of younger generations while enabling older generations to share their expertise.
- Offer diverse training methods: Provide ongoing training, skill development, and opportunities for career advancement to satisfy the desire for growth across all generations. Tailor training methods to accommodate diverse learning styles, such as online courses, workshops, and mentorship programs.
- Use a mix of communication channels: Include in-person meetings, emails, instant messaging, and collaboration tools to reach all generations of workers in the flow of their work and keep everyone in the loop.
Strategy 10: 🚀 Deliver exceptional onboarding experiences
New recruits are twice as likely to look for a new role if they've struggled during onboarding.
Craft an onboarding strategy by:
- Defining onboarding goals: Set clear goals for onboarding, such as improving retention, accelerating learning, and fostering engagement. Establish specific targets, like raising job satisfaction from 3 to 4.5 out of 5.
- Creating an actionable checklist: Outline roles, responsibilities, and timelines for each process step. Ensure consistency and alignment among stakeholders.
- Prioritizing actions: Rank tasks based on urgency and importance, avoiding overwhelming new hires.
- Assessing from your new hires' perspective: Continuously gather feedback from new employees to identify areas for improvement and adapt the onboarding process based on their experiences.
- Roll out: Implement the structured onboarding plan and measure its impact. Collect engagement, preparedness, and job performance data to refine and enhance the onboarding experience.
➡️ Check out how to build a winning onboarding strategy or improve the onboarding experience if you already have a framework in place.
Strategy 11: 🏆 Commit to frequent employee recognition
Employee recognition ties into engagement and praising your workers for their contributions to your overall business success. The idea is simple: Call out their positive accomplishments, and motivate them to continue demonstrating that behavior.
Creating this rewarding work environment can involve investing in a formal employee recognition platform. Still, it can also be as simple as:
- Writing a handwritten thank you note to employees each month
- Extending verbal praise on the spot
- Offering monetary rewards or team bonuses when employees hit their targets
- Celebrating successes at a company party or event
- Highlighting employees in the company newsletter or blog post
➡️ Check out 42 employee recognition ideas.
🏢 3 Examples of companies that have successfully reduced their attrition rates
Apple's achievement in reducing employee attrition by 28% offers valuable insights for enhancing retention. The company united its workforce around a solid mission to foster a vibrant culture by offering personalized engagement, such as "stay interviews," increasing performance potential by 4.6 times.
Transparent communication via "Hello" and "Loop" apps keeps employees informed and connected to the company's mission. Apple has also invested in a comprehensive onboarding process, including empathy training, transforming new hires into devoted advocates.
Despite rapid people growth since 2020, Zoom remains committed to preserving its pre-pandemic culture of employee wellness and social connections by hosting virtual events and promoting work-life balance.
Zoom's efforts to integrate new employees hired predominantly during the pandemic ensures that the company maintains a cohesive team environment. The "Happy Crew" initiative, monthly stipends, and mental health advocacy all contribute to employee morale and well-being, while employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor validate Zoom's success in nurturing a positive workplace culture.
Paragus, an outsourced IT consulting firm, has transformed its approach to employee retention in the face of high turnover rates expected in the technology sector. Recognizing that traditional perks were not enough to retain employees, the CEO embraced turnover as a reality and fostered a transparent and supportive culture to address the issue.
Paragus acknowledged departures as graduations, celebrating with farewell parties and a Wall of Fame for those who left on favorable terms. Paragus redesigned its business model and documented processes to mitigate the impact of turnover to ensure smooth client support transitions. The company also implemented transparent recruiting practices and a clear career ladder with skill and experience checklists, putting career advancement in the hands of employees.
Paragus enhanced its employer brand by being open and authentic and significantly improved employee satisfaction and engagement.
📏 How to measure the success of your retention strategies
Employee turnover rates aren't something you feel; there are multiple ways to measure if your strategies have successfully retained your valuable team members.
Employee attrition rates
Take a level of employee attrition benchmark to mark the start of your retention strategy implementation. Measure it again within a few months, and you should see the number of employee departures reducing.
Positive stay interviews
Invite every employee to discuss their current role with you and ask how you can improve their situation. This is a great way to identify potential risks of people leaving before it's too late.
❓ Discover the 15 best stay interview questions to ask your employees.
💡 Tip: Score your stay interviews according to their attrition risk and compare them over time.
Employee satisfaction surveys
It's good practice to send out frequent employee satisfaction surveys to gain qualitative and quantitative insights into how your workforce feels about your organization.
💡 Tip: Use a mix of closed-style Yes/No and open-text questions, inviting the employee to provide more details and examples.
Measure these satisfaction surveys over time to understand if the scores improve and correlate with retention rates.
Enhanced employer brand
One way to measure employee loyalty is to look at employer review sites like Blind or Glassdoor to see how they describe their experience working with you. Feedback from employees is entirely anonymous but will be achingly honest.
Suppose you've previously suffered poor reviews, but these start to improve. In that case, this is an excellent sign that your strategies are hitting the mark.
➡️ Reduce attrition with Zavvy: Engage, grow, and retain your people
Zavvy offers a suite of tools that ensures you engage, grow and retain your people over the long term.
Here's a taste of what we offer:
- 🌱 Employee development software: Create a continuous development cycle by defining career progression so your employees can see their future at your organization.
- 🧑🎓 Learning experience platform: Offer customized learning journeys from our vast library of world-class training courses.
- 🔁 360 feedback software: Collect actionable multi-source insights from peers, managers, direct reports, business partners, customers, and more.
- 💬 1:1 meeting software: Set up structured one-on-one meetings between managers and direct reports to drive alignment and accountability and promote open discussion.
- 🧑🤝🧑 Connection pcrograms: Encourage long-term working relationships between peers to spark team spirit and evaporate workplace silos.
- 🤩 Employee engagement software: Drive engagement by gathering strategic insights, including eNPS scores, well-being scores, and DEI progress over time.
📅 Ready to slash recruitment costs and retain institutional knowledge by overcoming employee attrition? Book a free Zavvy demo today.
How can high attrition rates be reduced?
Companies can reduce high attrition rates by creating an environment that values and rewards employees' contributions. Organizations should ensure managers adequately challenge talented employees and effectively utilize their in-demand skills. Achieve this through continuous learning and development opportunities, and offer consistent recognition & rewards for outstanding performance. Offering competitive compensation, flexible work arrangements, and a positive, inclusive work culture can help retain talent and reduce attrition.
How do you manage attrition and shrinkage?
Understanding and addressing the reasons for high employee turnover is key. Gain these insights by conducting exit interviews or employee pulse surveys as the foundation of your research. From here, focus on creating a work environment that values and leverages the expertise of your workforce, providing them with opportunities for professional growth and challenging assignments. Take steps to recognize and reward all employees for their contributions, enhancing their job satisfaction and loyalty.