The U.S. currently has more than 6 million unfilled jobs, an all-time record high.

In such a hot labor market, employers need to focus on retaining current employees as much or more than attempting to find brand-new ones. This article outlines some of the most important ways that employers can do a better job retaining employees.

1. Hire the Best Candidates

Never has it been more important for employers to spend all the time required to find and hire the best qualified candidates. If you settle for minimally qualified candidates or people that do not fit your culture, you will spend more time and resources training, managing, motivating, coaching, counseling, disciplining, and ultimately replacing them than if you hire the best candidate from the start.

In addition, you will probably decrease your downstream liability of employment-related legal claims if you hire the best from the beginning.

2. Concentrate on Improving the Onboarding Experience

The old saying “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” certainly applies to a new job. Spending extra time and resources on new employees and thoroughly communicating expectations sends positive messages to new employees and helps them be more likely to succeed in their jobs.

Employers who concentrate on making sure that new employees get a thorough onboarding are more likely to retain employees than those who hurriedly rush new employees into their jobs.

3. Pay Employees Well Enough So They are Not Inclined to Seek Other Opportunities

Historically, the standard advice was that an employer did not need to pay more money than its competitors to attract and retain employees. However, information about pay is much more open and readily available; qualified candidates are rare commodities; and modern workers seem much more comfortable than ever moving from job to job in search of better pay (and work experience).

In this environment, employers need to pay their employees well to keep them. Otherwise, they look for greener pastures.

But, pay is not the only factor that employees will consider. Progressive employers will also pay attention to the other factors that help retain (and attract) the best candidates, as outlined in this article.

4. Fashion a Benefits Program Tailored to the Employees You Want to Attract

A cookie-cutter approach to selecting the employee benefits you provide your employees will not be effective. Employee benefits are expensive, and you should work with your broker to design comprehensive benefits programs that target candidates you want to attract and retain.

Plus, offering individual options that employees can tailor for their own benefit will also be helpful in meeting employee needs within your budgetary constraints

5. Communicate Openly and Honestly with Employees

The days of keeping employees in the dark and treating them like mushrooms are gone. Modern employees want to be informed and to have a say in things that affect their jobs.

Certainly, employees want to know about big changes in their job or company in advance, but they also want to know with as much notice as possible about day-to-day changes that may affect their lives and outside obligations like child care or commuting.

By communicating openly and honestly with employees, you show empathy and respect for employees and build loyalty. On the other hand, employees who do not believe their employers communicate with them feel less secure, disrespected and mistreated — and therefore are more likely to leave in search for another job.

6. Invest in Your Employees with Training and Advancement Opportunities

Not every employee wants to run the company or even be promoted. However, almost every employee responds favorably when their employer offers them training opportunities.

Training manifests an employer’s care and concern for employees and recognizes the basic employee’s need to learn. Employees feel more secure when their job skills remain current or when they can be improved with their employer’s help.

Plus, getting employees together for group sessions tends to foster collegiality among employees, which makes them less likely to leave in search of a more fulfilling job.

7. Provide Employees with Tools and Technology to Do Their Jobs Well

As with training opportunities, employers who provide employees the tools and technology to do their jobs tend to get better results and to retain employees. By providing the proper tools and technology, employers send positive messages to employees.

Think about how excited employees are to get a new laptop or application that makes them more effective or efficient at their job! Most employees’ jobs are hard enough, but when an employer provides inferior or inadequate tools and technology to do their jobs, employees can get frustrated, feel disrespected and want to find other jobs.

8. Allow Flexible Work Arrangements

Almost 75% of family units in the U.S. have two wage earners. When you add children, commuting and other factors to the mix, the average employee must constantly juggle time spent between these outside commitments and their jobs.

Employers that can allow flexible work arrangements so employees can attend to these outside commitments with minimal stress are more likely to attract and retain workers. Work that interferes with or does not respect these outside commitments is likely to become unfulfilling for most employees and they will inevitably seek jobs that are more flexible.

9. Conduct Stay and Exit Interviews

Many employers conduct exit interviews to help them fine-tune their employee engagement programs. Many times, trends detected by exit interviews are discovered too late for employers to adjust their employee engagement programs.

Progressive employers now go one step further and conduct similar interviews or polling of current employees before they go looking for other jobs.

Interviews of current employees are called “stay interviews” and have proven quite helpful in increasing employee retention. Stay interviews allow for quicker corrections in programs that can increase retention and detect negative factors that may increase turnover.

10. Periodically Reevaluate Your Retention Programs

As with most management processes, periodic reevaluation and adjustment is necessary for continuous improvement. Times and strategies change, and employers who fail to adapt risk falling behind their competitors.

You should periodically stop to review your employee engagement and retention programs, research trends and experiences of similar employers, then tweak your programs and policies to make them better.


Investing in your current employees in the ways outlined in this article will help you retain them and help prevent the problems that turnover and a shortage of qualified candidates can have on your business’ operations and profitability.