Finding the right employees for the team Part III: How to retain talent in a competitive market

Think about this. According to, it is estimated that the cost to replace an employee is anywhere from 20% of an employee’s salary for low paying jobs to over 200% for higher level positions. What’s more, we are living and working in a candidate’s market.

So just what is your company doing to keep your employees and keep them productive, successful and happy? It all starts from the moment you onboard your newest superstar and the companies I see most successful in their employee retention strategies share two common qualities.

Build and Live a Strong Culture: As soon as you walk through an office door, you know if a company gets it or not. The office environment not only needs to reflect the company, brand and culture but it must express gratitude for the employees that work there and ultimately make the company what it is. This recognition can be shown in a variety of different ways and can be something as simple as signage and something more strategic such as making sure every employee plays a direct role in the company’s success and can see their impact. Knowing that their company cares about them and appropriately rewards them goes a long way in strengthening employee retention. These companies identify what makes them different than other employers, especially the competitors, and show employees how important they are too.

Companies with higher retention rates tend to even go so far as to allow what they stand for to exist outside of their office walls. Corporate social responsibility and opportunities to give-back to the community go a long way to strengthening a company’s culture, which in turn strengthens retention. Consider giving employees time off to run a race supporting cancer research or coordinate a team building activity around helping out at your local food bank. You will be amazed at how demonstrating how a company’s culture functions in the greater community fosters employee tenure.

Active Employee Engagement: The number one reason that I hear from candidates as to why they are looking for another job is for growth opportunities. This can be addressed through transparent conversations around employee skill set and overall company direction Clear goal setting, cross-training, mentorship opportunities, and encouraging external formal education play a huge factor in employee retention and motivation. Employees stick around for a company that invests in them.

The companies who listen to their employees and actively encourage open communication get the best kind of feedback there is. I always remind colleagues and clients that the exit interview is just as important as the hiring interview for learning what is keeping employees at your company and what might be driving them away. Whether it’s through one on ones, weekly team meetings or simply a routine walk to grab a coffee, the conversations shared during these moments inform companies on just how the teams really are doing and also nip potential issues in the bud. And we all know how they can escalate and cause employee morale and productivity to drop. For example, especially if a particular position has become a revolving door of employees, what you might discover in these conversations is that the manager of that group may require some training or reminders regarding conflict-resolution, work styles, or motivational tactics. As hard as it may seem to broach sensitive topics in the workplace, it is essential to build teams with staying power.

Revisit Part I and Part II of the blog series for more insight on who is out there to hire and reinventing your hiring process.

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