Hiring and training new staff costs time, money, and energy. In most cases, so does keeping them. It’s easy to think about employee retention strategies in an impersonal, product-driven way, but that will do you and your employees a disservice and ultimately frustrate your staff retention goals. Keeping employees, especially the best ones, requires a holistic approach that addresses the needs of the person as well as, and perhaps even before, the needs of the company.

There’s no avoiding employee turnover; it’s part of life. However, minimizing its frequency should be a priority; and in the end, those efforts will ultimately improve the culture of your organization. Some say that the ideal turnover rate is 10%; in 2019, the average for most industries was well above that mark.  People leave employment for a myriad of reasons, the most prevalent being that they are looking for new growth opportunities, they want a better work-life balance, or they’re looking for a better working relationship with higher leadership. In short, employees want to engage in their work and life in meaningful ways and are looking for employment that fosters those meaningful engagements. 

5 Employee Retention Strategies to Keep Your Team


What can you do to positively impact employee retention? What steps can you take to improve the lives of your people so that they will want to stay, not just need to stay? How do you find the sweet spot that creates the best work environment and experience for your employees and maximizes employee output at the same time? Try these 5 employee retention strategies to meet your retention goals.

Lead your team.


It’s not enough to manage people and products anymore because most people don’t want to be managed. The difference between leadership and management is leaders care about the whole person; managers tend to only care about the person in the context of the job and/or product. The weight of the word “leadership” is heavy – a leader is someone who inspires, who cares about people, who serves the team, and who gets the job done well at the same time. It’s not an easy thing, but the benefits outweigh the cost.

Leadership goes far beyond product management. A leader models the behavior and work ethic they expect from their team, and then some; however, a leader also understands that people need to have a healthy work-life balance and that sometimes, work comes second. There is no task that is below the paygrade of a leader if it’s something that truly needs doing and resources are maxed. A leader gives others a chance to take credit and shine and cares more about the success of his/her team than his/her own personal success. Leadership requires self-awareness, excellent communication, and all of the soft skills they don’t teach you in management.

Some experts believe that there are 5 generations in the workplace now which makes leadership more complex, and more important, than ever. The values of older generations are not the values of younger generations, so inspiring great work from all team members requires a nuanced, personal approach. The expectations can be the same, but the process may look different for each member of your team. People need to know that they are more than just product-pushers. They need to know that their contributions to the team are worthwhile and that their leader cares about them personally and professionally. They’ll be more inclined to stay when they’re being led than if they feel managed.

Compensate your team.


This gets tricky because resources only stretch so far. Nonetheless, find a way to compensate your team on a competitive level with the market. Money goes first – pay them as close to what they deserve and certainly what the market dictates, and then some. But when the money dwindles, get creative. Start with comp time and extended vacation time, and then think through flexible workdays if that suits your industry. Quit thinking inside the normal workday box and look for ways to compensate them with something meaningful to them.

You may have to solicit feedback from team members to ascertain exactly what might be meaningful to your team. People need to make ends meet, so money will always be at the top of the list. But the other incentives might be worthwhile to consider.

Recognize your team.


Recognize outstanding work from your team, both individually and collectively. Be specific, and keep it timely. Your team needs to know that you see their contributions and efforts, and they need to know that it matters. Without that kind of engagement, they will begin to think that it doesn’t matter whether they produce quality work or not, and they will give up and give you lackluster work, or they will leave to find a workplace that will recognize their contributions.

Recognition carries the most weight when it is public. It builds a sense of pride in the person being recognized, and it builds hope for someone else who is also working hard. You want the best workers to stay, so recognize them for the work they do and how they contribute.

Build value in your team.


Let them grow so that you don’t have to let them go. The best of the best will want to keep growing, and they will want to know that there are opportunities to advance. If your structure is somewhat flat, this becomes even more important. Look for ways to allow people to expand their skills and knowledge if they desire to do so.  

Look for ways to offer growth opportunities to your team, and also be open to growth opportunities they present to you. Don’t dismiss something just because it wasn’t your, or your company’s, idea. Acknowledge that someone who went out of their way to look for an opportunity to enhance their skills is an asset to your team, not a bother. If they know they can grow, they will want to stay.

Celebrate with your team.


Especially in hard-driving industries that see few tangible wins, celebrating with your team will be vital to their engagement and inspiration. Employees want to be inspired to keep doing hard work that’s worth doing, so give them a reason. Stop and celebrate victories, whether they are large or small. Don’t make victories so hard to reach that they never happen. You have to celebrate the good and be willing to celebrate mere improvements if that’s all there is to celebrate. Build the excitement in your team so they want to stay and see what comes next.

Final Thoughts


Keeping good people will always be a challenge worth revisiting. It never gets easier, but it does change with the times. If you aren’t sure where to start, test out an idea or two and see how it goes. Know your audience; know your team. Talk to them and ask questions to see what might resonate with them. Don’t be afraid of going all in on new ideas for employee retention. You cannot execute any of these ideas half-way and expect them to work. If you care about staff retention, act like it. Your team will know the difference.