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What is Employee Retention? 12 Effective Strategies for Your Organisation

Winning the war for talent is difficult; retaining talent is even more arduous.   

For several reasons, employees are showing increasing readiness to resign from their current roles. In Nigeria, this trend coincides with the widespread movement of talent to western countries for better opportunities in the ‘japa‘ season. As a result, employee retention is taking its biggest hit in recent years, with a significant number of employees leaving their jobs near-daily. Driven by post-pandemic effects, this widespread departure has been termed “The Great Resignation“.   

Robert Half survey of over 2,400 professionals showed that about 41% of people continue to look for new roles as we reach the end of the year. It is also highly likely that by 2023, every 1 in 3 employees will voluntarily quit. The year-on-year rise in these figures is alarming.   

Gone are the days when you hold all the cards as an employer. Today’s employees no longer feel obligated to give their best for organisations when circumstances are perceived to be unfavourable or better opportunities arise. 

Consequently, it’s time for you to ensure that your organisation is taking the proper steps to drive employee satisfaction and, critically, the retention of your highly-valued talent. The objective is to change the trend within your organization from “The Great Resignation” to “The Great Retention.” 

The first step is understanding why some of your staff members might be seeking other positions and why some have already submitted their resignation letters. 

In doing this, you need to analyse your employee retention strategies critically. Your organisation needs a robust employee retention strategy to avoid the inconvenience and expenses of losing valuable talent. However, waiting until you have the infamous ‘exit conversation’ to know the reason for their departure may be leaving it too late. 

But first, what does Employee retention mean?  

What is Employee Retention?

Employee retention refers to your organisation’s effort to keep its employees – your most valuable asset – to create a stable and productive workforce. Employee Retention is vital because the retention rate directly impacts the organisation’s overall growth and profitability.   

Organisations that are serious about retaining top talent create policies and programmes to increase their retention rate; those who are successful are in a better position to achieve the organisation’s goals and add to their talent pool. Your organisation’s ability to retain its people significantly affects its ability to operate at a high level without the disruptions that high employee turnover brings. Consequently, effective employee retention strategies give your organisation a competitive edge.   

Why are your employees leaving?

You often get insights into your organisation’s employee perspective during exit interviews. These insights help you determine where your retention strategies need improvement.   

During these interviews, it’s more than likely that you’ll hear employees mention one or more of the following reasons for wanting to quit your organisation;   

  • Inadequate remuneration   
  • Feeling overworked   
  • Limited career advancement opportunity   
  • Lack of recognition   
  • Dissatisfaction with organisational culture   
  • Better opportunities from a competitor   
  • The need for a better work-life balance   
  • Boredom, etc.   

So, is there a way to curb this rising trend? Read on for seven insights on how to reduce your employee turnover and improve employee retention. 

12 Effective Employee Retention Strategies for the Nigerian Landscape

In reality, no single strategy can ensure employees will decide to stay longer with your organisation. However, employing modern leadership principles and focus on retention will help reduce turnover and boost your organisation’s productivity.    

These methods can help you resolve existing employee retention issues and prevent them from re-occurring in the future; 

1. Recruit the Right Employees

Hiring practice is the first opportunity to influence your relationship with new employees, immediately contributing to improved staff retention. Find ways to hire candidates who align with your culture and are ready to remain with your organisation for a significant period.   

The best employees want to feel inspired to work with you. As you expect them to sell themselves, they want to be convinced about your organisation. For example, what excellent fringe benefits do you offer? How is your organisation positioned as an ideal place to work? In what ways do you position your work environment for each candidate? Do you support your employees on their journey to becoming better? 

Building your network to get a diverse application pool is also essential.   

2. Create an Outstanding Onboarding Experience

Ensuring new employees feel welcome in the organisation starts with your onboarding experience and will likely continue through their first job year. According to Training Industry Quarterly, it can take a new employee nearly two years to reach a similar productivity levels as an existing employee. So, ensuring they feel comfortable right from their first day can significantly improve your retention.   

You can help new employees transit seamlessly from being an ‘outsider’ to becoming an ‘insider’ by educating them about their responsibilities, providing them with the resources they need for their tasks, and creating an environment where they feel accepted.   

As a leader, you should also remember that the success of your onboarding can impact the level of commitment to the organisation.    

Introduce new employees to their teammates and assign mentor to help with their questions. Building social connections between teammates increase the likelihood of retention.

3. Provide a Platform for Professional Development

There’s a link between employee turnover and inadequate investment in employee development. But on the other hand, supporting continuous learning and development impacts employee retention significantly.   

Creating learning plans, setting up clear career paths and implementing coaching programmes make employees more engaged and effective at work. Knowledge-sharing sessions are also an avenue for employees to learn new skills.   

It is also important to ensure flexibility by giving employees options depending on how they want to grow. In addition, engage employees who show interest in a new area by giving them side projects to work on; this shows you care about their professional development and trust them to use their skills in various business areas.   

4. Focus on Employee Wellness

Employee burnout is not often discussed in this part of the world, but 76% of employees experience burnout in their jobs. Symptoms like lack of energy, decreased productivity, disengagement, mental exhaustion, higher sensitivity to feedback, etc., contribute to employees’ decision to leave your organisation.   

To prevent this, give your employees more flexible working hours and ensure you set clear responsibilities and expectations. Look for signs of burnout or disinterest, and encourage employees to occasionally take a break and involve themselves in hobbies that excite them.   

Most importantly, ask your employees for feedback because they are most likely to know the causes of burnout in your organisation and the possible solutions. 

5. Get Your Employee Recognition and Reward Right

5. Get Your Employee Recognition and Reward Right​

When employees feel appreciated, they tend to put more effort into performing tasks and remain committed to their employers. However, it takes more than occasional appreciation to build a culture of recognition; it requires regular and purposeful acknowledgement. A Brandon Hall survey found that organisations that recognise their employees several times a month have a 41% chance of experiencing an increase in employee retention.   

Your organisation should prioritise monetary rewards and social recognition to better your employee recognition strategy. Employee recognition templates ensure a seamless recognition process whether employees are in-office or working remotely.

6. Be a Leader, not a Boss

Everyone wants to be a boss, but only a few people want to be leaders. If you want to keep your employees, it’s worth knowing how to crack the leadership influence code because it directly influences your employee retention strategy. It is imperative to note that exceptional leaders: 

  • Give a clear indication of the organization’s direction   
  • You must be able to handle challenges   
  • Have a genuine desire to offer high quality for customers and employees   
  • Believe in the importance of people and they show their employees that they’re important assets to the organisation 
  • Inspire confidence   
  • Actively encourage open rapport with employees.   

7. Create Opportunities for Career Advancement

Employees who remain in the same position for an extended period will likely get bored and leave the organisation. These employees always seek the prospects of promotions and more challenging work opportunities to advance their careers.    

Your organisation may have policies which impact the frequency and kinds of promotions of employees. So, even when an employee deserves more responsibility, your organisation might be unable to provide it.   

Ultimately, these situations discourage employees and drive them to look at competitors and other environments where they have better career advancement opportunities.

These statistics back up the strategies  above and give a reality check of today’s workforce;   

  • Organisations with an effective onboarding process boast retention of new employees by 82%   
  • 35% of employees say they’ll resign if they don’t get a pay raise   
  • 70% of employees will leave an organisation for better development and training   
  • HR leaders believe employee burnout is responsible for 50% of employee turnover   
  • Organisations with a strong employee recognition culture have a low turnover rate of up to 31%   
  • 77% of organisations focus on employee experience to increase their retention   
  • An average employee exit costs 16% to 213% of their annual salary.

The strategies we’ve pointed out are guaranteed to help you engage, listen to and connect with your employees to prevent them from moving to a competitor. But how and where do you begin?   

Whether you implement all seven or only a few, you must take note of these keys to have a clear strategy;   

8. Know Your Employee

Knowing your employees is an excellent place to start. Know what your people are looking for by improving your feedback processes. Employee surveys, personal interviews and small, open forums are avenues you can explore. Then, DO SOMETHING about the results and concentrate on improving what you don’t do well.   

9. Create an Employee-Focused Environment

Send a clear message about the importance of your employees. Create a flexible environment that promotes work-life balance and is receptive to new ideas. Offer benefits that support employees’ health and wellness. However, whatever you choose to offer must align with your operational needs.   

10. Provide Effective Leadership

Provide Effective Leadership​

Be a model for your employees and show them what it takes to get tasks done effectively. Share your vision with them and make them feel a part of the big picture – something bigger than just the job.   

Employees quit jobs due to poor supervisors, so you must also hold your managers and supervisors accountable for employee retention. Set expectations for them and provide relevant training, with clear consequences for not adhering to more positive supervisory models.   

11. Provide Opportunities for Development

Start by looking at your employee’s onboarding process; ensure it is memorable and sets the tone for a successful period.   

Your employees’ development should not be seen as just training. Set up effective processes, including mentorships, cross-training, external conferences, etc. and ensure your employees take advantage of these opportunities. 

12. Boost Your Employee Retention With Assessments

Employee retention is an essential part of the employee life cycle. For your organisation to have a competitive edge, you must be able to win the war of attrition. Unfortunately, many organisations often ignore assessments when considering the methods to improve employee turnover, yet it plays a significant role. Deploying our assessments to understand your employees’ pain points is a game-changer in improving your employee retention rate.   

Final Thoughts

Today’s employees desire to continuously learn, be appreciated, and have career growth opportunities. When organizations don’t prioritize these personal employee objectives, they turn to competitors. The cornerstone of effective staff retention is maintaining employee happiness and raising work satisfaction. 

Olasunkanmi Adenuga

Olasunkanmi Adenuga

Director, Workforce Learning

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