Short Term & Long Term Fixes to Your Employee Retention Rate

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Retention rates are one area that companies should be focusing primary resources on right now. Over 50% of your workforce is ready to walk out the door today if the right offer comes along. According to a Saba study conducted by the Harris Poll, nearly one third of all full time employed adults are actively seeking alternate employment, and of the “satisfied” two thirds remaining, nearly half of them would consider parting ways for a good opportunity. It may not be what you want to hear, but it is your current reality as an organizational leader and manager of talent when it comes to employee retention rates.

Short Term & Long Term Fixes to Your Employee Retention Rate


Employee retention has added pain points for your organization to consider including loss of expertise, knowledge and a decrease in productivity and engagement as the extra workload is shared among your remaining employees. These productivity gaps are impacting your organization at longer intervals than ever before.

The most recent August 2016 Jobs Report from DHI found the average job vacancy is now 26.5 working days. Though these numbers have dipped slightly from 29 days in 2015. We really are at unprecedented economic levels that haven’t seen since 2006. 

Talent retention should be a primary focus when it comes to your talent management strategies. Unfortunately, it is one of the most challenging aspects in HR as well as organizational leadership because a large number of individuals are responsible and can impact the success or lack thereof when it comes to employee retention at your company.


Strategies to Decrease Your Employee Turnover

It’s important for senior leaders to understand that retention is a long term game. Collecting, analyzing and responding to feedback from surveys and meetings take time which is why I choose to divide up retention strategies into long term as well as short term fixes.

Prior to seeking any information, creating plans or making changes you must begin measuring and analyzing your turnover numbers. This means not just recording but discussing with senior leaders as well as front line managers, the company or department’s most recent turnover numbers. Turnover numbers can be discussed overall, however, I think this analysis is most effective when you look at tenure, including hires within 90 days, less than six months, six months to a year, up to 3 years and beyond. If you are not sure how to measure or calculate employee turnover, here’s a handy visual aid to get started:


Long Term Paths to Retention Fixes

– Feedback from your employees should be a primary factor. Focus groups and surveys can go a long way to finding out if they are happy, and why or why not.

– Examine your company culture. Is it really what you say it is and is that a good thing? Failing company culture can  provide incentive for moving on.

– Compensation, perks and benefits analysis. This will help you understand what you currently have and where you sit in terms of benefits, vacation and other employee perks prior to evaluating and benchmarking your competition.

– Evaluate your competitors. Anyone with stronger retention rates than your own deserves a closer look. Be honest, it can be hard to admit when the competition gets it right.

– Make changes and share them. Don’t just find the problems, fix them and make sure your employees see the effort. Being seen as working for solutions can go a long way toward more open and honest communication to help you find and fix issues before they lead to lower retention rates.


Short Term 90 Day Retention Fixes

– Exit interviews are important. If you don’t have an exit interview program, build one. Finding out what exiting employees have to say is essential to strong retention rates.

– Focus groups. The best way to help stop with a rash of turnover is by scheduling focus group meetings to talk it out with your staff. This might help uncover some personnel changes or small changes you can make to help re-build trust. For example, I had a lot of turnover in a metro area location and through a series of focus group meetings, I learned that our retail schedules didn’t take into account the metro bus schedule. I immediately met with all team members to determine who took what bus line and make the schedule changes. I never would have learned this important piece of information without having a focus group meeting.

– Skip level interviews are effective. Skip levels interviews are one on one meetings between a senior leader and employee. The leader is the boss of the employee’s boss. We all have busy schedules after all and senior leaders spend less time with employees and more on long term planning, growth and strategy.

– Make immediate and very public changes. Once a gap is discovered that might be contributing to turnover, it’s important for you to act strategically and quickly. Go beyond the standard employee announcement via email and company intranet and find ways to make an impression going above and beyond past your communciation methods.

Success in employee retention begins with teamwork, communication and honesty about your track record with retention rates. You and your leadership team must be willing to see where you are falling short and ready to do what needs to be done to fix those shortcomings. Any company in today’s market that does focus at least as much on employee retention as recruiting is fighting a losing battle. Retention is the most cost effective solution to lowering turnover costs, decreasing your recruiting expenses and to your long term success planning.

Strong workforce retention rates are truly a win/win for everybody.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

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