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With 7 million job openings and only 6.5 million people unemployed—plus a notable skill gap—there simply isn’t enough talent to go around. People have many opportunities when it comes to where they want to work, making employee retention a key focus at most organizations. The good news? There is a range of best practices to help you retain your workforce, some fairly straightforward, and others more involved. But it all comes down to one thing: doing what’s best for your unique team.

1. Gather employee insights

When it comes to employee retention, you don’t have to guess at what will work. Find out from your current and former employees! Employee satisfaction surveys and stay interviews allow you to ask people exactly what it would take to make them stay, while exit surveys can help you learn exactly why they’re leaving. You can also gather employee insights from public review sites, social media, and other online sources, so be sure to monitor your employer brand. This will allow you to identify trends, so you can prioritize your biggest problem areas—as well as some low-hanging fruit to make quick wins.

2. Start retaining employees from the moment you hire them

There’s a lot of competition for talent, and people have many choices when it comes to where they want to work. It’s not uncommon for new hires to leave on or before their first day, or shortly after starting a new job. In fact, almost 30 percent of job seekers have left a job within the first 90 days of starting. Employees who had a negative new hire onboarding experience are twice as likely to look for new opportunities in the near future.

On the flip side, organizations with a strong employee onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent. Providing a solid employee experience, from the moment a candidate accepts a job offer, is one of the most important things you can do to set your new hires up for long-term engagement and retention. This includes a warm welcome, a stellar first day, and ongoing support to help new hires acclimate to your company and accelerate to full productivity.

[Check out our webinar to learn how to create a memorable and impactful onboarding experience.]

3. Provide ample employee recognition

Only 45 percent of employees are completely satisfied with the amount of recognition they receive, and those who don’t feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year. A well thought out employee recognition program is such an easy, yet effective way to retain your talent. You can really take this to the next level by creating a culture of recognition, in which everyone—from company leadership to individual contributors—freely recognize one another.

4. Update your compensation plan regularly

Compensation is not necessarily a reason employees stay, but it can be a major reason they leave. Over half of candidates say a competitive compensation package was the most attractive factor when considering a new job, and market rates could very well be increasing faster than your annual pay raises. If you’re not adjusting your compensation plan regularly, you could be losing candidates for two reasons. First, because there are many job opportunities available, and candidates can quickly learn what they could be paid elsewhere. Second, because new hires may very well be offered market rates in order to close them, while long-term employees have not been adjusted and are still earning last year’s market rates. Retain your workforce by regularly updating a competitive compensation plan, and paying fairly across your organization.

5. Provide career pathing and employee development

Show employees they have a worthwhile future at your organization by mapping out a career path with each of them, and helping them get there through employee development opportunities. This carries the added bonuses of helping your organization overcome the skills gap in the labor market, and providing strong internal candidates to move into key leadership positions as they become available. Career pathing should be done early, and revisited often, to ensure it meets both the employee’s and organization’s needs.

6. Revisit your employee benefits and perks

Employee benefits and perks can play a major role in an employee’s decision to stay or leave. Fifty one percent of employees say they would switch to a job that allows them flextime, and 37 percent would switch to a job that allows them to work off-site at least part of the time. Fifty three percent of employees who get paid vacation would leave for more at another company, and 51 percent would take a job for 10 percent less pay if unlimited paid time off was included. Exact preferences may vary by your workforce, but it’s probably safe to say that most people would appreciate a better work-life balance.

Final thoughts on employee retention

Finding and closing on your top-choice candidate is no longer enough—now you have to do everything in your power to retain them. In this war for talent, effectively retaining your employees ultimately requires that you think strategically about the employee experience. That begins with collecting feedback, and becomes an ongoing cycle of improvements and feedback to continually evolve to meet your employee’s needs.

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