by Paul Casey

8 Employee Retention Ideas

I read a stat last week in one of my trade magazines that said fully one-third of employees are looking to switch jobs in the next year! Yikes! To keep the best employees, leaders must be strategic in creating a culture where the team feels content, supported, trusted, empowered, and valued. While not any single item below is enough to retain every employee (since every person has different motivations), a combination of them will most likely form a culture where the team will want to stay with you and build something great.

  • Training/professional development. Most employees want to grow their skills to be the best at what they do. Paying for their continuing education is an investment that keeps on giving, especially if you require them to pass on what they learn to the rest of the team.
  • Mentoring. This retention strategy goes both ways. If you are assigned a mentor within your company, there’s a good chance that that mentor cares about you enough to help you fit into the culture and to thrive within it. And, if you are mentoring someone else, it raises the ante for being a good role model of company culture as you show the mentee the ropes, deepening both people’s roots.
  • Leadership opportunities. While not every employee wants to be an official leader, everyone does have a strength (or two or three) in which they lead the pack with their skills and knowledge. Give opportunities for each team member to step up and teach the team, or to lead portions of staff meetings, or run point on a community initiative or staff development focus.
  • Support. We tend to trust leaders whom we see frequently. Be the leader who wanders around (or virtually) checking in on the team, asking them how they are doing, what they are working on, and how you can help. By putting yourself in front of them regularly, easy dialogue can happen about any obstacles that need to be removed for those employees to keep moving forward on their main things. Resolving conflict quickly in a respectful way also demonstrates support.
  • Compensation packages. While most surveys would reveal that money is not the primary motivator for most employees, if salary/benefits are not viewed as fair/adequate for the amount of responsibility one has, it becomes a de-motivator. Assure competitive rates, give bonuses/profit-sharing, and keep looking for ways to add benefits to the package whenever budget allows.
  • Input. People tend to support what they help co-create. If decisions that affect employees’ jobs keep coming down from above, without any conversations with front-line employees, you will not get people’s discretionary efforts. Weighing-in leads to buying-in. Do employee surveys, conduct stay-interviews (exit interviews while still employed), and bounce ideas off the team in 1-to-1’s or small groups–then do something about their suggestions.
  • Social events. Not that everyone will want to become bowling-buddies with everyone else on the team, but there is something bonding that happens when people hang out outside of work–whether that’s going out for lunch, volunteering together at a community outreach, having company barbecues with families invited, or going on staff retreats.
  • The best tools. Every occupation has certain equipment that is of highest quality, and as your budget allows, get them what they need to take pride in their work. I’ve seen custodian light up with a new vacuum cleaner or IT professionals grin from ear to ear with the largest monitors.

Let’s keep adding to this list. What have you seen that leads to employee retention at other companies you’ve watched?  Email me at And let’s stay in touch. One small way is to subscribe to my Target Practice e-inspiration that I send out each month with little articles like this one. Go to–it’ll pop up.


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