Employee Retention: How to Keep Key Staff

Dr. Ryan Giffen

A crucial component to having a successful business is having good employee retention.  Constantly replacing key staff members is problematic on multiple levels.  It looks bad on paper and can make potential new hires wary of what they are getting into.  It is also a pain for you as a company to have to find, hire, and train employees in important positions over and over again.  Here are seven retention strategies you can use to keep your employees around longer.

1. Have a competitive salary and benefits.

This may seem like an obvious one, but it goes a long way.  If an employee could be making more money for doing the same work somewhere else, they are going to quit.  Benefits are a huge part of this.  In positions where salary is set over many different companies, benefits like health insurance and parental leave become the deciding factor.  Offering key staff competitive benefits goes a long way in keeping them.

2. Commit to employee professional development.

Helping your employees learn and grow can have benefits for you and for them.  No one wants to feel stagnant.  Attending training and conferences can help staff members feel like they are growing their careers and knowledge even if they are staying in the same position. Acknowledging improvements and advancement in your staff can improve employee retention. By investing in professional development, you will get more well-prepared employees that know about the latest advances and trends in your business. 

3. Don’t overwork your staff.

This is another strategy that is both simple and critically important.  Employees who are burnt out are more likely to quit than those who are well-rested and healthy.  Overwhelming your staff with a large workload continuously can cause them to become discouraged and stressed.  Encourage employees to maintain a healthy balance between their job and their personal lives.

4. Have good leadership.

People don’t quit companies; they quit managers.  Keep an eye on your management and encourage them to be leaders instead of dictators. This means caring about employees’ wellbeing and being fair, structured, and confident.  Be someone your staff wants to follow rather than someone they obey out of fear or obligation.

5. Make employees feel valued.

If people don’t feel like they are important to the company they work for, they will find somewhere where their contributions matter. Humans want their work to be meaningful where they find purpose in their lives. Try to offer your staff a variety of tasks and the ability to enact real change in the company. This can greatly improve employee retention.

6. Build a brand your employees can be proud of.

Along with meaningful work, people want to feel they are doing good work.  Be a company that your employees take pride in by investing in charities, activism, and the local community.  This might seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.  You can start small.  Find ways to connect your staff to the community by offering volunteer events where they can do things like paint a local playground.  Retention is more likely to be high when employees genuinely like the business they work for.

7. Hire the best person first.

Transparency is key when looking for new employees.  It can be tempting to try to hide parts of the job to get more people to apply, but they may end up quitting in the long run once they see all the work entails.  Don’t hire quitters.  Look for people that are well qualified for the position and ready to work.  Focusing on hiring the best person first can save you time and trouble with retention later.

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.