Seventeen Best Ways To Retain Employees In Today's Workplaces

How can companies go about retaining the people they have in today's environment?

A variety of HR professionals and business leaders weigh in to answer that question. From sharing the job incentives that matters most today to highlighting employee wellness trends in hybrid workplaces, there are several ways to retain employees at your organization. 

Here are the best employee retention strategies to retain employees in today’s workplace:

  • Be flexible with work and life events
  • Perks that are personal are key
  • Proactively manage work-related stress
  • Work on interesting projects
  • Start with trust
  • Make employee experience a #1 priority 
  • Remote work options
  • Focus on financial wellness
  • Frequent recognition
  • Account for furry family members
  • Home office fund
  • Adaptable leadership improves employee retention
  • Use the NIOSH Total Worker Health® approach
  • Provide opportunities for continuing education
  • Health and wellness apps
  • Physical workouts and exercise
  • Employee retention isn't a's an outcome

Be flexible with work and life events
The workforce today knows there are job opportunities and employers that are struggling to find talent. Flexibility is among one top area employees are seeking. It's not your common time off or holidays, but instead being flexible around the outside factors of life and family. Creating an environment with options to work from home instead of missing a day of work, allowing employees to give their time in a community project, being able to attend a child or family member's event, and providing a time out during the day to recharge. The situations we have all faced over the past year and continue to face have changed the trajectory of what people find valuable in an employer.

Michelle Gray, HR Consultant, Integra HR Consulting

Perks that are personal are key
Employees need flexibility and personalization. For example, many companies are (rightly) focusing on the mental health of their team, but what is to say that a particular mental health app is the right way to go? Or that it will work for the entire team? That is why most of those types of perks see <10% engagement. A better approach is to support your employees' wellness, but let them determine the best approach. Maybe one person wants to run outdoors and needs running shoes. For another person, this could mean a Peloton subscription or therapist copays or a gym membership. Personalization is key to meet the needs of everyone on your team. 

Amy Spurling, CEO, Compt

Proactively manage work-related stress
First, regard employee wellness as a driver of engagement. We already know that Millennial and GenZ workers are demanding engagement in their work lives. The way I put it is, “If I’m not loving it and learning from it, I’m leaving it.” This demand is now heightened by the realities of remote and hybrid work opportunities. Second, either proactively manage mental health and work-related stress, or understand that it will mismanage the business. According to Wellable, more than 88% of large companies are increasing investment in mental health programs. A Deloitte/Fortune CEO survey conducted in early 2021 found that 98% of leaders surveyed stated employee mental health will be a priority in 2021 and beyond. But while having a wellbeing program that offers mental health support is necessary and great, it is not sufficient unless it is implemented and disseminated in a way that your employees can access those resources and thrive as a result.

George Vergolias, Medical Director, R3 Continuum

Work on interesting projects
Most jobs require skills that can be applied to a range of projects. Employees aiming at a role of certain seniority often prefer roles that come with exciting projects and tasks, especially if they offer similar pay as the regular ones. Structuring opportunities in clever ways that maximize the productive and interesting experience from the role can help retain more driven employees.

Rebeca Sena, Consultant,

Start with trust
Now, more than ever, people have a choice in where they want to work. All companies are competing on the "ABCs" - Advancement, Benefits and Compensation - but they should start with Trust. People are looking for trust. Trust in their skills, abilities and professionalism. If you lead with trust, you will get trust in return. Trust leads to engagement, higher productivity, innovative products, and increased profitability.

Erica Driskell, Head of Talent, Trusted Health

Make employee experience a #1 priority 
A BambooHR survey found that remote workers are having a difficult time finding work-life balance. In the past year, 11% say they’ve taken a day off specifically to get caught up on work. Another 55% of remote workers keep their phone on them at all times, with work notifications on, in order to stay visible while everyone is working remotely. At least 40% of remote workers who are looking for a new job in the next six months say it’s because they’ve felt stuck in their current job, while 36% say it's because of burnout. And with 79% of remote employees feeling burnt out monthly, it’s clear that work is taking a toll on mental health. In order to retain employees in today’s environment, employers need to invest in their employee’s mental health and make the employee experience their #1 priority. Whether through an increased focus on work-life balance, bulked-up benefits, or both, employers and managers can help turn back this tide by finding more ways to better support employee mental health.

Cassie Whitlock, Director of HR, BambooHR

Remote work options
Remote work options are one of the most important current incentives employers can offer. Surveys show that post-pandemic, upwards of 70% of employees want to continue to work from home at least one or two days a week. Increasingly, it is important for employees to have the flexibility to work at home, on an as-needed basis at the very least. This perk costs companies minimally, and, in fact, often results in increased productivity. Employers will have a hard time justifying denying work from home requests, especially after workers have shown the plausibility of the practice for close to two years now.

Michael Alexis, CEO, TeamBuilding

Focus on financial wellness
More employers are acknowledging the importance of financial wellness & also making general employee wellbeing a strategic priority. eMoney’s own research hints at why; a survey conducted in late 2020 revealed that finances are the number one cause of stress followed by work & relationships. Moreover, the impact of this financial stress was found to be far-reaching, affecting respondents’ overall mental, physical & relational health. Additionally, the pandemic has not only heightened financial stress but also shown a lack of preparedness for economic hardship that highlights a greater need for comprehensive financial wellness programs from employers. The more employers can implement financial wellness programs, the more likely they are to retain their talent & have the benefits leveraged by employees – resulting in less stress, increased education & financial security. Now, more than ever, is the time for employers to help improve the financial health & wellness of their workforce.

Joanne Del Signore, Head of People Experience, eMoney Advisor, LLC

Frequent recognition
I think it is important to recognize your employees and acknowledge how they bring value to your organization. I have always liked the saying "a person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected." Hard work should be noted, and I think with so many employees working from home that can present leadership with challenges. I learned early in my career that words matter, and how you treat your team makes a huge difference. Try every day to show and tell colleagues their efforts are appreciated, big or small.

Jaime Frankos, CMO, Ferretly International, LLC

Account for furry family members
Sixty-seven percent of employees surveyed by Wagmo said their pet is the main reason they are unwilling to return to the office five days a week. If companies really want to retain and attract their workforce, they’re going to have to address the major change in employees’ families - the addition of a pet. Now more than ever, pets are a big part of employees’ lives and the well-being of their furry friends is a major factor when choosing employment. Everyone knows that employees feel better about their jobs when they are financially secure and incorporating pet wellness or insurance is an easy way to address one of the largest stressors of pet parents - the total cost of pet ownership. Employers who address this change by providing pet health benefits, will come out successful in retaining employees as they are proactively planning for a major part of employees' lives.

Susan Halvorsen, Head of Business Development, Wagmo

Home office fund
One thing we're playing around with (and that seems to be popular) is a fund to help set up or improve your home office. With everyone working from home at least part of the time, the idea of helping ensure you have a desk, monitor, and quality chair has been really well-received!

Sylvia Kang, Co-Founder, Mira

Adaptable leadership improves employee retention
Leaders should expect variations in the people dynamics on their teams. Developing an adaptable leadership culture requires organizations to encourage behaviors that focus on understanding individual employee work preferences and priorities, and balance accommodating those needs with business objectives. Adaptable leaders understand employees might not have the same preferences concerning how they want to be led, so they instead learn individual preferences for their teams. When leaders practice techniques based on the employee's individual needs, they can connect and relate to the people depending on them for direction. When leaders are disengaged, or lead using a "one size fits all" approach, organizations will risk losing talent, experience low employee morale, and high turnover. Adaptable leaders will understand varying preferences, and find ways to meet the varying needs.

LaShawn Davis, Founder, The HR Plug

Use the NIOSH Total Worker Health® approach
Keeping your employee’s injury free was easier when you saw them 5 days a week. With hybrid workplaces continuing to be used, we're seeing companies embrace a more holistic approach to wellbeing using the NIOSH Total Worker Health® methodology. This integrated approach of policies, programs, and practices from work-related safety and health hazards to the promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts combine to improve overall safety and worker well-being for any working environment while enhancing the health and productivity of the employee.

Kris Corbett, Director, Atlas IPS

Provide opportunities for continuing education
If your team is not advancing and building their skillset, they will feel that they are languishing. You should provide opportunities for growth for your team. This way, you will have the ability to promote from within and build a deeper skill set for each employee. Your team will appreciate your investment in their success and be more likely to stay the course within your company.

Wesley Jacobs, Founder, Apollo Medical Travel LLC

Health and wellness apps
In 2021, more employers have been investing in apps and virtual technologies to provide better mental health support to their employees. Many people who work from home are struggling with anxiety and stress from COVID-19 and the harsh adjustments that came with working remotely. Companies have begun this journey of supporting their employees by simply giving free access to apps like Calm and Headspace for meditation and mindfulness; Strava and Fitbit for diet and exercise; and Woebot and BetterHelp for therapy and counseling. Some companies have already started giving their employees access to mental health apps, holding mental health seminars, and supporting their staff with 24/7 counseling options. With so many outstanding virtual resources employers can give their employees the chance to choose what works best for them and their personal needs during these stressful times of COVID-19.

Rani Hublou, CMO, WorkBoard

Physical workouts and exercise
Our workplace has contracted with a physical trainer to provide workouts five days a week. Those who are in-office can participate in person, and those who work remotely are able to join the workout via a video conference. There's also the option to work directly with the trainer via the app, even if you can't make it to the workout meeting. And because our CEO and leadership team were instrumental in getting this implemented across the company, everyone is encouraged to take the block of time for the workouts to engage in self-care.

Tamara Scott, Managing Editor, TechnologyAdvice

Employee retention isn't a's an outcome
Employee retention becomes a hot topic when voluntary attrition begins to spike or when great talent is hard to find. Most hiring leaders are aware of the 11.5 million people who have voluntarily quit their jobs since April of 2021. Perhaps more startling are the recent reports from sources like Microsoft who found that out of 30,000 surveyed, more than 41% are considering quitting (that number jumps to 54% when isolating those who fall into Gen-Z). Here's a news flash: employee retention isn't a tactic or an initiative; it's an outcome. It's an outcome that emerges when your people are feeling inspired by a noble purpose and being cared for by their managers. Who is responsible for managing and leading your teams? Are they leading with empathy, compassion, and a sense of care? Or, are they micro-managing and leading from a place of fear or scarcity? The best retention strategy starts and ends with who you decide to put in managerial and leadership roles.

Brian Mohr, anthym

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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