More than three-fourths of employees who leave their jobs could have been retained if their employer had made the right efforts. It’s a startling statistic, especially when one considers the high cost of turnover. Efficiency lags. Morale dips. And an expensive, often frustrating journey to find a replacement begins. 

In a world full of employment shortages and competitive hiring practices, HR managers are there to keep all hands on deck. In this article, we take a look at how HR management practices can be used to improve retention. 

Better Onboarding

Though no one will likely realize it at the time, employee turnover begins the moment you make a new hire. And no, we don’t mean in an “everything is eventual” sort of way. We’re talking about onboarding. Employees that start strong, with a clear sense of what they are supposed to do and how they are supposed to do it are much more likely to stick around for the long haul. 

Modern HR management practices have shifted towards emphasizing the onboarding process in a number of key ways. 

  • Automation: Though automation is no substitution for human-driven onboarding, it is an excellent supplementary resource. Modern businesses with the means now often use a combination of automation and AI to give new hires around the clock information on company policies. This is often done in the form of chatbots, though automated text or email communication is also a possibility. Allowing new hires—or, for that matter, existing employees—to get the help they need even outside of business hours is a small but effective way to allow them to start strong.
  • Longer Orientation Periods: Employers are also now being onboarded slower than they used to be. There are many reasons for that, though the most important is simply that it allows the new hire ample time to acclimate comfortably to their new role. It also gives them the chance to better adapt to your systems. Even new hires with lots of experience may not be used to your tech suite, or perhaps they will simply be uncomfortable with your policies. Longer orientation periods ensure that they never feel overwhelmed. 
  • Make it personal: Orientation periods of the past have often been largely about making sure the new hire understands the brand. This is important, to a degree, because they are now expected to emulate it. However, it’s also a very small of their overall work experience. Keep in mind, they are going to be spending a significant portion of their waking life at work. They want to feel a personal connection to it. HR management now often emphasizes establishing a personal connection between the new hire and the business. Let their personality shine.

personal connection

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio:

Company Culture

Company culture is an important part of retention and attracting new hires. While companies occasionally make a splash in the news for pivoting into a four-day workweek or offering sushi on Friday afternoons, these big gestures are actually only a small part of what it means to have a company culture. 

Company culture is what it feels like to work for a business. Fringe benefits are nice, but they will also come across as empty if they aren’t followed up with more day-to-day gestures. 

What this means will be different from business to business. It could mean flexible schedules, lax dress codes, the option to work from home. 

It doesn’t have to though. Working hard can certainly be part of company culture. Here’s the key: make it clear and make it consistent. Employees should know what it will be like from the get-go, and they should never be disappointed. 

Keep in mind: company culture is a consideration that flows from the top down. If all hands aren’t on deck, the best-laid plans will fall apart. 

Why does this work? Any company culture will add a level of consistency and security to the workplace that most employees will appreciate. Strong, employee-centric cultures also simply create a positive work environment that most people really value. 

Team Building

Team building gets a bit of a bad wrap—possibly because team-building efforts of the past have been cringy and tedious. Trust falls and silly meeting games waste time and alienate people. And yet, no one can deny that a team that feels close will likely collaborate better than one that isn’t. 

Perhaps more importantly, for this article, the employees will also stick around. People who have friends at their place of work report higher levels of satisfaction, and stay at their place of work for much longer than those who do not. In fact, a significant number of people have reported that they would rather work with friends than get a pay increase. 

HR management strategies can reduce turnover by facilitating a workplace environment that is conducive to professional bonds. 

Incentives are Everything

Incentives work surprisingly well in the workplace when it comes to boosting morale. Because employees are desperate for small prizes? No. 

They want recognition. 

A startling number of employees feel that they are unacknowledged and unappreciated by their employers. They leave because they never really felt like they were wanted in the first place. Incentives and acknowledgments can go a long way toward correcting this. 

When it comes to acknowledging employees, simplicity will get the job done just fine. Did an employee do something well? Tell them! Too often, people only hear from their managers when something has gone wrong. HR management can change this by working on training managers to offer as much positive recognition as they can. 

Incentives can be equally simple. Relaxed dress days for people who meet certain quotas. Long lunches, gift cards, etc. The prizes themselves are beside the point. What will matter to the employee is that they feel their efforts are being valued and recognized. It may sound childish, but it works. People want to feel appreciated. If they don’t, they will try to find a better job.