The Employee Retention Guide:
How to Retain Top Talent (and Outperform Competitors)

ShowUp Team | Published: April 10, 2021
Workplace Culture

It hurts to lose top talent to companies in another industry.

What’s worse?

Losing them to a competitor.

Imagine watching a top performer become your competitor’s asset. First is the feeling of pain that comes with it. Next are the lost time and resources your organization invested in hiring and training them.

I know from experience that it can be frustrating.

Of course, your team’s morale also gets affected.

They have to take on more responsibilities (to fill the gap until you onboard a new hire), which results in employee burnout.

As a manager, this begs the question: Is there something you can do to keep top performers from walking away?

Well, yes, there is.

It starts by paying close attention to your people.

But it’s difficult, if not impossible, to know what everyone thinks if you have, say, 50 employees and above.

Now that’s where technology, and specifically, a team pulse survey software, comes in.

Imagine a system that allows you to know how top talent feels (and spot issues) way before they decide to leave.

With such a system, you can build a happy work environment that inspires loyalty and outperform your competitors.

This guide will show you how using a team pulse survey software like ShowUp can boost employee retention rates. Ultimately, it’d help you to keep your top talent from jumping ship.

Let’s start here:

Do your employees have the culture they need to stick around?

Keep track of your team’s pulse. Request early access and boost retention rates with ShowUp.io

Why Employee Retention is Important

When top talent leaves a company, there are costs.

First, there’s the unpleasant financial cost. As per a report by Huffpost, that’s typically 1.5-2x of the employee’s annual salary.

There’s also the pain of going over the tedious, expensive recruitment (and onboarding) process.

You might end up with a person with low-quality talent or a great talent looking for multiple one-night stands or something short-term.

And let’s not forget the cost of training the new hire.

As a manager, employee retention should be your priority for the following reasons:

  1. to retain top talent,
  2. boost employee turnover,
  3. keep your team’s morale high,
  4. increase productivity,
  5. reduce turnover rates, and
  6. repel low-quality talent (and those looking for something short-term).

There are several reasons why people with rare talent leave, including poor financial compensation.

But what if I tell you poor compensation isn’t the number one reason employees leave?

Sure, poor monetary compensation is the obvious choice. However, there is one that everyone, including managers, often overlook.

Yeah, the one reason that can turn things around if you know what it is.

So, what’s that one reason?

It’s the manager’s ignorance!

I’ll explain.

Top talent don’t just wake up one morning and say to themselves, “This is the day I screw my boss over and leave for [your competitor’s name].”

No, they don’t.

I bet you wouldn’t even do that if you were in their shoes. Here’s what really happens:

They start out super excited about their new role and its benefits.

However, some experiences introduce frustration into their work routine.

These frustrations grow as they realize that the company culture doesn’t align with what your company sold them during the interview.

So, the more they show up to work, the more frustrated they grow.

When they can’t take it anymore, they look for an alternative. The rest, as they say, is history.

In other words, employees start making up their minds to leave long before they make the jump.

There’s some good news here.

The time between their frustration and the choice to jump ship is your window to influence their decision (and get them to stay).

You can influence an employee’s decision to leave by altering their work environment, in most cases.

But that poses another challenge: How do you know where to make changes that count?

That’s where a team pulse survey software saves the day. You can start by sending out anonymized weekly pulse surveys that help you read your team’s mind.

ShowUp automates the process of doing this.

Every week, members of your team get the survey delivered right into their inboxes. It looks pretty much like this:

Showup - Team Pulse Survey Email

You can call it a virtual suggestion box where your team can say how they really feel about things (without the fear of being judged).

As a manager and one of your company’s business leaders, you can use what they say to adjust accordingly.

Your focus should be on using what employees say in response to these surveys (not who said it) to make informed team decisions.

So, ShowUp anonymizes the survey:

Showup - Anonymous Team Pulse Survey

With this, you can use their feedback to pinpoint areas that need work. That way, you can focus your efforts and make changes that move the needle.

6 Other Reasons Why Top Talent Jump Ship

1. They Feel Overworked

In the corporate world, piling up a top talent’s desk with extra work isn’t unusual.

After all, they seem like the best fit for the job. So, why not move those tasks their way?

Well, as tempting as that is, you’re setting your employees up for burnout. And employee burnout frustrates retention efforts, according to a report by Kronos.

As a result, your top talent’s morale and health will suffer (as well as the company’s growth).

2. They Feel Unappreciated

79% of people who leave their jobs cite “lack of appreciation” as their reason for leaving.

What does that mean for you?

It means feeling unappreciated is a thing. And employees consider appreciation a priority.

So, if their contributions aren’t acknowledged or rewarded, they’ll go to where they’ll be valued and appreciated even if that place is your competition.

3. Career Growth is a Scarce Commodity

Employees are your company’s greatest asset.

Unfortunately, most senior leaders prioritize profit over human capital. And this never ends well for those companies.

That’s why 70% of US employees are most likely to leave for a competitor who invests in training their employees.

Show your top talent you care about their growth (and the company’s). And don’t just say it. Have a plan and budget for career development.

4. They Feel Left Out

When your company doesn’t encourage transparent communication, employees will walk away.

For instance, employees who feel uncomfortable giving upward feedback are 16% less likely to stay at their companies.

That’s unless you allow open communication, so employees are well-aligned and passionate to achieve company goals.

5. They feel disrespected

Wendy Duckrey, vice president of recruiting at JPMorgan Chase, said,

Most people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their managers,

Your team members don’t enjoy being treated like slaves without a voice. They want to feel valued instead of being talked down.

So, no matter how appealing your company’s benefits are, toxic senior leaders can ruin your chance of retaining top talent.

6. Your Company’s Direction isn’t clear enough.

An unclear company vision hurts employee engagement, leaving them confused about what their priorities are. As a result, they won’t be able to work effectively.

When they understand your company’s “why” (and the part they must play to achieve set goals), they are 27% more likely to stay.

An employee retention strategy is your game plan to keep competitors away from your assets and boost retention rates.

6 Employee Retention Strategies to Keep Top Talent from Leaving

1. Improve your Onboarding process

If you want to improve your retention rates, start from the get-go – the onboarding process.

Dan Pickett, CEO of Nfrastructure, infrastructure, managed services, and network services firm, confirms this with his quote:

Retention starts right from the beginning, from the application process to screening applicants to choosing who to interview.

It starts with identifying what aspects of culture and strategy you want to emphasize. Then start seeking those out in your candidates.

An onboarding strategy sets new hires up for success. A poor one sets them up for a frustrating work experience.

Successful onboarding depends on transparency.

In short, transparency isn’t just the right tool for attracting and retaining the right employee; it boosts employee engagement.

When you are open about your expectations, company culture, and compensation packages, you build trust with the new hire.

And it boosts your chances of the new hire choosing to stick with you for the long haul.

Don’t believe me?

A study found 37% of hiring managers saying that new hires would stick around longer if they had more information during the hiring process.

So, if you want to improve your retention rates, be honest from the start. Be clear about your expectations. Don’t try to make any part of the job more appealing than it really is.

Also, you should share your company’s mission and take questions so you can be sure you’re both on the same page.

Aligning employees to company goals is a critical, continuous process for your company’s success.

You can also pair new hires with reliable older staff to offer guidance and support.

They can show them the ropes while the new hires can, in turn, offer a fresh perspective to the older staff.

Pro Tip: While hiring, look beyond resumes.

You’ll need people who have a track record of loyalty as well as skill and experience. Those are the ones who will stay when things get tough.

2. Listen and Take Action on Feedback

Feedback is a two-edged sword.

On one end, it gives employees a reason to trust you by showing them you respect their opinions.

On another end, it tracks your team’s pulse, giving you insights to keep you from losing another talent.

However, if you don’t listen or take action on feedback (after you’ve heard it), you lose your team’s trust.

Most of all, you lose foresight.

You’ll be unable to tell when an employee is close to throwing in the towel and moving in with a competitor.

So, how do you listen?

How do you get to know what’s on your team’s mind (without getting them spooked)?

Again, use a team pulse survey software.

ShowUp, for instance, sends out surveys weekly to your team based on different metrics:

Showup - Team Pulse Survey Participation

The metrics we measure are traits (or pillars) that make up a good company culture.

They are Trust, Respect, Innovation, Alignment, Passion, and Transparency.

For each metric, we ask a question (totaling six questions) that helps you know what your employees are thinking:

Showup - Team Pulse Survey Question

There’s also anonymity to naturally encourage team members to speak freely without fear of being judged.

A question like this, for instance, measures transparency:

Showup - Team Pulse Transparency Question

If most people on your team feel the company isn't transparent enough (or at all), your result will look like this:

Showup - Workplace Culture With a Transparency Problem

With such results, you’d know right off the bat that there's a transparency issue. You can take a deep dive into the results and take action accordingly.

Furthermore, each metric like Transparency has sub-metrics – key indicators – that lets you narrow down your focus more.

Showup - Team Pulse Transparency Trends For transparency, the results show that the team feels accountability is lacking most. That’s where you should focus your attention.

There are resources (like this one) that show you what to do to improve your team’s accountability.

You can also collaborate with your team (or other team leads) to brainstorm and craft a strategy that works for your company.

3. Create Career Growth Opportunities

People are valuable assets that appreciate over time.

But their appreciating value is based on your plans for their career development.

So, professional training should not be an afterthought. Instead, it should be a part of your talent management strategy.

Show employees that you care by making learning a part of your culture. Set targets and monitor progress.

In turn, your employees will participate, practice, and ask questions when they encounter challenges.

To make it more exciting, you can reward top talent’s career progress (and successes).

A promotion or a bonus check, for instance, will motivate other employees to step up their game to win the prize.

These retention efforts make employees feel valued and appreciated. And as they grow, your company grows too.

So, it’s a win-win for everyone!

4. Embrace Innovation - Give Employees Free Rein to be Creative

Most talented employees love a challenge.

They hate boring routines as it doesn’t give them the chance to unleash their creativity and create valuable products.

Giving your employees a chunk of time to do something they are passionate about while at work is a great way to start.

Google, for instance, adopted a strategy called the “20 percent” practice. They let engineers create and work on personal Google-related projects, using 20 percent of their working hours.

So, once a week, these engineers can leave their routine and engage in a passionate project of their choice.

Great ideas like Adwords and Google News are innovative solutions – results of the 20-percent time.

So, give your team time every week to do something that interests them. Take a risk on them.

What they come up with might impress you and make your company a lot of money.

Don’t Be a Bully, Be a Leader.

As a manager, improving your leadership skills can boost your chances of retaining valuable employees.

It starts by learning how to communicate appropriately.

Know when to speak and when to listen. And when you talk, talk respectfully to your team, even in heated moments.

Also, you can learn to delegate tasks appropriately, not overworking an employee because you feel he is the best person for the job. But you should spread out tasks evenly to avoid burnout.

You can also invest in yourself through learning.

Sign up for leadership courses to help you become a better communicator.

That way, you can connect with and influence your team better.

5. Recognize and Appreciate Employees

Everyone loves to be appreciated for their contributions, no matter how little.

Gratitude is a great way to increase positive emotions in your employees (and boost their morale).

For instance, you can retain more employees if you learn to use the magic word sincerely – thank you.

When your team members go the extra mile, say thank you. Acknowledge and appreciate their efforts.

You can also reward them with a day off or anything you know would appeal to them (and won’t put the company at risk).

Some companies have reward systems set up to incentivize unique ideas and innovative solutions.

You can come up with your own or even design a recognition program and openly reward their efforts.

6. Make Work Schedules Flexible

Having your employees enjoy a healthy work-life balance is vital for a satisfying job experience.

Your employees have lives outside work.

Having a company culture that rewards long hours or 24/7 availability is toxic. You reduce employee retention rates and boost turnover rates.

Encourage your staff to take a break occasionally. It could be a short leave of absence from work.

If they had to work late, for instance, you could let them come in late the next day or give them the day off while working on a project.

You can also offer to let them work remotely once or twice a week. These measures will help in boosting employee morale and retention rates.

Conclusion: What’s the Bottom Line for Retaining Top Employees?

The bottom line is this:

Your team members aren’t robots.

They’re human with emotions, just like you.

Sometimes, they can get overwhelmed with the volume of work (or something else), and they might be unable to open up about their pain.

When you give your team a voice, you have the chance to improve company culture.

So, don’t assume you know how your team is doing.

Check your team’s pulse every now and then, and take action.

ShowUp gives you the power to do this.

By diving deep into the results of your team pulse sent from ShowUp, you get real insights to change your work environment and create a better future. A future where employees are happy, productive, and loyal.

Of course, they can still decide to leave, but it won’t be due to something you didn’t do right.

Don’t hand over your top talent to your competitors when you can do something to keep them happy, motivated, and productive.

How transparent is your organization? Find out what they think.

Track your team’s pulse with ShowUp's weekly surveys and boost retention rates.

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