Employee retention: Once you hire them, how to keep them

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Employee retention is crucial for the long-term success of any business. The costs of hiring, orientation and training can pile up, and having to fill the same position multiple times can be frustrating, significantly impacting productivity, team morale and your bottom line.

While offering more money in the form of wages and benefits may be a good incentive, many business owners – especially new start-ups – may not have it to give. Although money is important, there are other things employees value; given the right mix of employee-centred incentives, many will choose to stay.

What are some employment retention strategies? We’ll break them down into money and non-monetary incentives:


Ensure that your employees are fairly compensated based on industry standards.

  • Always be aware of the median wage in your sector and area – don’t lose a valuable employee over a dollar an hour when a replacement might cost you two.
  • Regular review of salary, especially in entry-level positions, connected to small increases for a job well done is often valued more than a higher starting wage that seems arbitrary.    
  • Retention bonus that is linked to a defined business goal may help retention; a bonus not clearly defined is not likely to make the difference in retaining an unhappy employee.
  • Healthcare and Insurance Benefits are highly valued by employees and can significantly contribute to retention.
  • Offering a retirement savings plan with matching contributions helps employees prepare for their future, making them more likely to stay with the organization in the long term.

Read our posts on Setting a Salary and Employee Compensation for more information.

Non-monetary incentives

Inexpensive non-financial benefits can significantly enhance a company's retention and productivity, yielding even greater rewards, especially when considering the substantial costs associated with employee turnover.

  • Employee orientation: orientation (or onboarding) is a way of integrating a new employee with your workforce and the organizational culture. A successful employee orientation  will set the groundwork for a productive and satisfying employment relationship.
  • Strong Company Culture: Cultivate a positive and inclusive company culture that aligns with your values and encourages teamwork, innovation, and respect.
  • Flex time: Support a healthy work-life balance for your employees. Encourage flexible work arrangements, remote work options (if applicable), and be mindful of their personal commitments. Consider putting a Disconnecting from Work policy in place.
  • Work family get-togethers: Relaxed gatherings such as golf tournaments, company picnics, and BBQs are a delightful blend of productivity and heartfelt connections. These work family get-togethers are not only enjoyable but also contribute to a positive company culture, boosting morale, and promoting employee loyalty and satisfaction. They show that the organization values its employees and recognizes the importance of work-life integration.
  • Recognition and Reward Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate your employees' accomplishments and contributions. Recognition can be through verbal praise, written appreciation, awards, or incentive programs.
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAP): EAPs are designed to support employees with personal or work-related challenges that may affect their well-being, job performance, or overall productivity.
  • Employee wellness: emphasize the importance of wellness both in and out of the workplace. Offer opportunities for employees to incorporate wellness into their workday. Opportunities for Growth and Development: Provide your employees with opportunities for continuous learning and professional development leading to a more productive and motivated workforce as a result. Offer training programs, workshops, mentoring, and encourage them to take on new challenges within the organization.
  • Flexible Career Paths: Offer opportunities for career growth and advancement within the company. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that values their professional development.

Remember that employee retention strategies should be tailored to your company's unique culture and the needs of your workforce. It's essential to regularly review and update your retention efforts to adapt to changing circumstances and employee expectations. Knowing your employee team and continuing to pay attention as that group changes over the years can help you keep your best employees and continue to attract strong applicants.