Your employees are the most important part of your company.

Employee retention is how you keep the employees that make your company excellent. The lower turnover rates employee retention brings can improve your company’s reputation and keep quality consistent.

It may seem easy to replace workers all the time, but hiring actually requires a lot of time and money. A lot of time is wasted waiting for job seekers to apply for a position, interviewing and evaluating applicants, and onboarding and training new hires. The company loses money in the form of lost productivity while the hiring and training processes occur.

By comparison, employee retention is just as difficult as hiring, if not more so, but it is cheaper in the long run. Retaining current employees keeps productivity, work quality, and company culture consistent. Plus, employees who are more familiar with your company’s products and services provide better customer support and are more prepared if things go wrong.

Why Employees Leave

Sometimes employees leave for reasons outside your control, like because they’re moving away or they want a shorter commute. But your company has influence over more than you think.

Employees sometimes leave because they want a job with better pay or benefits. Sometimes they leave because of less tangible things like feeling unappreciated, wanting more flexibility, or wanting to get out of a toxic office culture.

How To Improve Employee Retention

The first step to improving employee retention is figuring out what employees think about working for your company and why they are or might leave. Surveys are a great way to do this and you can do a lot of them. Try post-training surveys for new hires about how onboarding went and exit surveys to find out why people are leaving. You can also use quarterly or yearly general surveys about company culture and workload are all great ways to start. A suggestion box can help you gather information more informally.

Just remember that all this feedback is worthless if you aren’t acting on it. If you’re seeing trends in why people leave or what employees are complaining about, try to make improvements. There are things you can do while you’re gathering and evaluating feedback, of course.

One way to start is by making sure you’re hiring good people. You want to make sure your new hires have the skill set to do their jobs, and skill tests are a good way to do that. However, it’s just as important to hire people who have an attitude and personality that matches your ideal company culture. This isn’t something you can test for, and people aren’t always their authentic selves during an interview. Make sure you’re calling prospective employees’ references to check on their work ethic and what they’re like to work with.

To make sure those great new employees can achieve their full potential at your company, you need a good onboarding and training program. Work with different departments in your company to create consistent onboarding programs. Don’t forget, though, that each department has different training needs. A good onboarding program ensures that new hires are familiar with the company, know how to do their jobs, and are socially integrated.

Offering your employees good pay and good benefits is a good way to bring new people in and improve employee retention. If you want your employees to continue to do good work, you have to compensate them accordingly. Make sure you’re keeping up to date with what the competitive salaries are for the positions you need to fill.

Don’t forget your current employees. If they aren’t getting raises to match current competitive pay rates, they are going to find a job at another company that will pay them better to do the same job.

Make sure your employees have room for growth and advancement, too. Many employees will eventually want to move up the corporate ladder and have a better title and salary. If they can’t get it at your company, they will go elsewhere. You can also encourage employees to continue learning about their field by giving them access to webinars, certifications, and such. Your company might be able to work with the hosts of these courses and webinars to have speakers come to the office, or your company can foot the bill for these courses. Employees will enjoy the chance to learn and will come out able to do better work for the company.

Cultivating a positive work culture is a long-term project, but it is more than worth it. Toxic work environments where employees are berated, undervalued, and discouraged drive people away. Employees want a positive work environment where they are appreciated, encouraged, and supported and where they get recognition for the work they do.

A good way to start improving your company culture is to lead by example. How you treat your coworkers will influence how they treat the people around them. If things don’t start improving, try sending information to managers and other higher-ups on how encouraging their teams and coworkers can improve company culture, increase productivity, and lead to employee retention.

In case these gentler measures don’t work to improve company culture, you might try a speaker or seminar event. If some people are improving, but others aren’t, it might be worth it to speak to them one-on-one or even take disciplinary action.

Be Patient

You aren’t going to be able to improve your employee retention rates overnight. It will take months of taking small steps and collecting feedback to make a discernible difference. The time and effort you spend will be worth it. Your best employees will stay with the company and you’ll be able to attract better new employees. A happy, quality workforce and a positive company culture will produce work that is consistently high quality.