DMJ 1 on 1: 10 Ways To Improve Employee Retention

It’s time for the latest DMJ 1 on 1.  This time we take on a big topic.  How do we improve employee retention?  We all need great teams to do great work.  So here are 10 ways to improve employee retention.

New Employee Onboarding

When you welcome a new member to your team, make sure you REALLY welcome them. That first bit at a new place can feel a lot like going to a new school when we were young. We don’t know anyone. Everyone else already knows everyone. They know the culture, the language, the business…and there are already cliques of people that hang out.

As an employer, you can help with this in several ways. First, assign the new hire a buddy. This can be the person that makes sure they know the way around before they know the way around.

In addition, new employee merch can be really powerful. Having merch allows them to look the part even before they feel like it. When done right, new employee merch can help them look good AND be able to do their job better. This is a great way to make them feel a part of the culture.

Quarterly Appreciation Gifts

Businesses know they need to show appreciation to their best customers. Well…the good businesses know it! As a matter of fact, statistics will tell you that 69% of customers who leave you do so because of perceived indifference. Crazy right?

Well, your employees are no different. They want to feel appreciated and recognized. And while there are tons of ways to do this, the best organizations “put it on the calendar” to ensure this appreciation gets done.

One way to do that is to set up a Quarterly Appreciation program for your team. Just set the yearly budget per person. Then divide that number by 4 and you have the budget per item. When you think about the cost of onboarding, recruiting, and training new team members, this can really be a practical and effective investment.

End of Year/Holiday Gifts

The final quarter of the fiscal year often coincides with the end of the calendar year. If you want to go “above and beyond,” this is the time to do it. Make sure your team understands how much you appreciate their hard work.

Oh…and now is not the time to go with Gift Cards. Many executives want to take the easy way out and give gift cards. There are several problems with this. First, there is no staying power. So often, this gift card or certificate never gets used or it certainly gets forgotten. Second, you lose a chance to build culture. When you give a cool gift, the team all use something that shows they are a part of the same tribe. Third, they have to claim it! Now it’s not a gift, it’s an obligation.

There is nothing wrong with cash or gift cards if they are a part of the overall gift, but spend the extra time to pick something your team will actually enjoy and use long term.

Purpose/Give Back/Mission

There is power in a united goal. This can be powerful in creating a bond and a culture. What problem does your organization solve that people can get behind? What non-profit do you believe in or support? Make sure you tell that story before people join the team (to recruit the right people) but continue to tell that story as you move forward.

And yes…you need to tell this story over and over and over…

Pay Structure Evaluation

While pay should not be the only thing that keeps people working with your team, it has to be in the ballpark. We all know this as employees. If we can’t pay our bills, we will not (and will not be able to) do our best work.

Training and Growth

The best employees want to work in a place where they feel like they can be the best version of themselves. One of the ways they can express that is through training and growth. What programs does your organization have to help them be the best they can be?

Remember, if you are afraid to train your employees because they might grow and leave…be very afraid that they are stagnant and want to stay!  Don’t know how to create a program?  Check out this organization.  Crosworks can help you tailor a program just for you.

Health & Wellness Program

Health and Wellness programs not only create healthier employees (as if that is not enough reason), but they also create more productive and profitable organizations.

Harvard researchers found that for every dollar spent on employee wellness, medical costs fell by $3.27 and absenteeism dropped by $2.73, resulting in a 6-to-1 return on investment.

The Rand Wellness Programs Study showed that the disease management component of a wellness program was responsible for 86% of the hard healthcare cost savings, generating $136 in savings per member, per month, and a 30% reduction in hospital admissions.

Create a wellness program that every employee is excited to participate in. That’s a big ask. But if you can do it, it will create a healthier workforce and culture.  Yes…we can help with our Total Wellness program.  Learn more here. 

Employee Merch/Build The Brand

You can always tell an organization where people want to work if they WANT to wear the company gear. Think about it. If you are not forced to wear the company logo, but you do it anyway, you are proud to rep the brand. That’s huge. Not only does it help build the culture, but the branding can help build the company.

Create opportunities for your team to get branded merch. Whether they win it, they buy it, or (best of all) you provide it regularly, having your team wearing your brand is powerful.

Oh…and don’t go cheap. Make this the best merch so they are excited to put it on again and again!

Mental Health Tools

Have you ever worked with someone going through a divorce? If so, you know that they were not able to give their best. It’s just so much to go through. For years, employers acted like there was a separation between our personal and professional lives. And in some ways, there should be. But we know that we have to bring ourselves to work each day.

The best organizations give tools to deal with tough things in life. And when people feel better they do better work. It just makes sense. But many organizations miss it.

What do your mental health offerings look like?

Service Award Programs

Finally, we have talked about appreciation…and this is a big one. What about the people who have worked for you for a long time? Obviously they help create the culture and keep the trains running on time. So celebrate that!

Make sure you celebrate the milestones.

This not only shows them you appreciate them. But it shows the rest of the team that it’s important too.

Oh…and in today’s world it makes sense to start earlier than ever. Don’t wait until they have been at your place for 5 years…or even 1. When people make it to 6 months (or even 3 months) make it a big deal! You want to keep them right?

So there you have it.  These are 10 ways to improve employee retention.  Use these as a checklist to help dial in your company culture.  Want more information?  Check out our TARGET HR Playbook here for free!


Written by: Kirby Hasseman

Kirby Hasseman is the CEO of Hasseman Marketing & Communications. Kirby hosts a weekly Web show called Delivering Marketing Joy where he interviews business leaders from around the country. Kirby has published four books. His most recent is “Fan of Happy.” His book, called "Delivering Marketing Joy" is about doing “promo right” and is perfect for people in the industry and customers. He also wrote “Think Big For Small Business” and “Give Your Way to Success. All are available on Amazon.