What is retention in the workplace?
Simply put, employee retention in the workplace is about holding on to your best employees. Whilst a degree of employee turnover is natural, losing good people is costly, results in lost productivity, can affect team cohesion, and recruitment of new people is expensive. Workplaces with good employee satisfaction, high morale, a healthy work life balance and benefits are ones where satisfied employees stick around for the long term. In 2021 the average retention rate was 53%, whereas good is generally deemed to be 90% or over, so something clearly needs to be done. The determinants of retaining employees include demographic ones (such as gender, age, marriage), economic ones (working time, wage, benefits, firm size, career development expectations) and psychological ones (career commitment, job satisfaction, value attainment, positive mood, emotional exhaustion), among others.
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Why is retention important in the workplace?
All organizations want to have the best people in their business. Once a business has found a great person, invested in them, nurtured their potential and supported their development, losing them can be hard for a number of reasons.
Can incur costs
When an employee leaves, it can be costly for a company to find and train a replacement. By retaining employees, companies can save money on recruitment, hiring, and training costs. There may also be a loss of business as good employees who are knowledgeable improve customer relationships.
Employees who have been with a company for a longer period of time have accumulated institutional knowledge about the company, its processes, and its customers. When these employees leave, this knowledge can be lost, which can be detrimental to the company’s operations and output. New employees will take time to gather this knowledge.
Employees who have been in the business a long time are more likely to be invested in its delivery, engaged and committed to their work, which can lead to increased productivity and higher quality output.
Positive work culture
High retention rates can both indicate and contribute to a positive work culture, where employees feel valued and supported. This can lead to increased morale, job satisfaction, and loyalty.
A company with a high retention rate can be seen as an attractive employer and can help to attract and retain top talent and new hires. If there is high churn and employees quit it can be seen as a red flag for potential candidates.
Do employee benefits help with retention?
Employee benefits can be a powerful tool for human resources teams and their retention efforts. Employees expect a good company to offer benefits beyond just base pay which can help employees feel valued and appreciated, which can also increase their loyalty to the company. Flexible working schedules, the opportunity to remote work, or leave for caregiving responsibilities can help people maintain their work life balance. Employee assistance programs and behavioural health solutions are important for positive health and wellbeing, and demonstrate a care and concern for employee health. Offering training and development programs, continuous professional development courses, and other opportunities for professional growth can help valuable employees feel more invested in the future of the company.
How can Wysa help?
Using Wysa is found to be hugely beneficial to employees. Our research has found that highly engaged Wysa users see a 31% reduction in their depressive symptoms and 80% of our users saw their self-resilience improve after talking to Wysa. It’s also much more engaging – usually only 7% of people use an employee assistance programme, despite the fact that many more would benefit.
It’s not always easy to know what your employees need. To give us some unfiltered insight, Wysa has set up a company-wide digital screening tool: The Employee Mental Health Barometer. This can help understand the state of your employee’s mental health without requiring employees to have difficult conversations or suffer in silence.
⚠️If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, help is at hand. Please visit this list of helplines and resources for different countries.
What are the benefits of employee retention?
Reduced costs to employers
Losing an employee is expensive. As we reported in the Employee Mental Health Report, the estimated annual voluntary employee turnover in the USA in 2022 is 24%; mental health concerns such as stress and depressive symptoms account for five percent of total voluntary turnover; and replacing a single employee costs approximately 21% of that employee’s salary. The research in All Worked Up showed a third are suffering from anxiety and depression, and not being honest about this, impacting their work and output. Added to this there are costs around loss of productivity, training and education for a new hire, and potential impact on delivery and client support, which can have a long term impact.
Increased employee productivity
When an employee is invested in a programme of work, and knows it well, they are able to deliver great work more consistently and efficiently. Longer tenures can be correlated with deep understanding and knowledge, and thus more effective ways of working and better relationships, all of which impact productivity.
When people have been at a company for a long time they often form relationships and feel part of a team and organizational culture. This can improve morale and engagement, and make for a more fun and happy workplace. It can also be reassuring. When employees know that their colleagues and managers are likely to stay with the company for an extended period, it creates a sense of stability and predictability in the workplace. This can help reduce anxiety and uncertainty, which can improve morale and job satisfaction.
Higher employee engagement
Although long tenure doesn’t always guarantee higher employee engagement, a sense of security can make people feel more invested in their work. And that security can come from seeing people around them staying with a company for positive reasons such as good work life balance, wellbeing, career development and an overall good employee experience. Offering both short term benefits such as employee assistance programs and long term benefits such as pensions and retirement support help people feel that their employer is invested in them, and thus they want to do their best work for them, for the foreseeable future.
Improved brand reputation
Many organization scoring systems show average length of tenure, to help people decide if a business is a place that they want to work. High turnover suggests lack of support, structure, and that something isn’t right. A strong brand reputation attracts good quality candidates who want to work somewhere that cares for them. Employees who have had a good experience with a business are more likely to recommend it to others and spread the word about a positive corporate culture. This can help to spread positive word-of-mouth about the brand, which can increase awareness and attract new employees.
7 most effective strategies to improve employee retention
1. Offer comprehensive employee benefits
Providing a comprehensive benefits package that includes health insurance, retirement plans, and other perks can make employees feel valued and supported. This can increase their loyalty and motivation to stay with the company for a longer time.
2. Incorporate EAP and wellness programs to the employee benefits plan
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and wellness programs can help employees manage personal and work-related stressors, improve their overall health and wellbeing, and feel more supported by their employer. Strategies include everything from yoga at lunchtime and early finish Fridays to more structured Employee Resource Groups and counselling.
Wysa is one of the most effective EAPs and correlated with a reduction in mental health symptoms when used consistently. Early support for employee mental wellbeing has strong economic benefits through enhanced productivity, reduced presenteeism, lower absenteeism and turnover. When employees are experiencing stress, worry or anxiety they can immediately talk to Wysa, helping to deal with any potential issues early on.
3. Offer flexible schedules
Offering flexible work arrangements, such as hybrid working or flexible hours, can help employees better balance their work and personal lives, leading to greater job satisfaction and increased retention. People who are happy in their personal lives and able to prioritise the things that make them healthy and well are less likely to leave an organisation, as they will feel that all round their work life balance is working for them.
4. Invest in your employees’ career growth
Providing opportunities for professional development, training, and advancement can help employees feel valued and invested in their future with the company, leading to increased retention. Find out what it is that is important to your employees, undertake a comprehensive review of their current skills and knowledge and identify any gaps, set goals, and make a plan to help them achieve those goals. If people feel their professional development is not being catered for or taken seriously, they will be more likely to move to an organisation where it is. In Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace report they say that only 21% of employees around the world are engaged at work, and one way to help improve this is by providing opportunities for and support around professional and personal development.
5. Focus on improving company culture
A happy workplace is one where people will want to stick around and have a longer tenure. A positive and supportive company culture can help employees feel connected to their colleagues and their work, which can increase their job satisfaction and thus retention. Team building activities, social opportunities and a psychologically safe environment where people feel free to express themselves can all positively impact an organization’s culture. In All Worked Up the data suggested that people don’t feel that they can be open about mental health in their workplace, due to stigma and culture, with only 1 in 10 comfortable enough to take a mental health day. At Wysa we feel very differently, and everyone is entitled to 10 mental health days a year.
6. Improve the onboarding experience
It’s essential that people know what their job role is and what they are there to do, and this structure should be implemented right from the first day. A comprehensive onboarding experience where individuals have a plan and focus tailored to their own job role is important for helping them not only navigate the first few months, but their career in the long term. A positive onboarding experience can help new employees feel welcome and quickly integrated into the company culture.
7. Implement the 3Rs
Recruiting the right employees, rewarding their contributions, and implementing strategies to retain them can help companies build a loyal and productive workforce.
It all starts with attracting the right employees for the company’s needs and culture, and actively seeking out candidates with the right skills, experience, and personality traits. A transparent and fair recruitment process helps to ensure that people have a clear understanding of the company’s mission, values, and expectations.
With a great team on board it’s important to reward their contributions and provide opportunities for growth and advancement. Everything from clear career paths, competitive compensation and benefits packages to regular feedback and team building opportunities can help employees feel valued and appreciated, and that their contributions are making a positive impact on the company’s success.
To retain employees over the long-term you need a positive work culture that fosters collaboration, creativity, and innovation, and providing opportunities for continued learning and development. But it’s also about providing a positive and supportive work environment that supports work life balance, such as flexible work arrangements or employee wellness programs. Wysa’s employee offering can help you improve the lives of your employees, so they stay with you for longer.
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