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How to Boost Employee Retention in Any Employment Environment

Retaining and training employees is essential to the success of your small business,

After hitting double digits during the depths of the Great Recession, the unemployment rate has been falling steadily for the past five-plus years. It hit another low in June, falling all the way to 5.3 percent — nearly half the 10 percent level it hit in 2009.
When the unemployment rate was high, many businesses viewed human resources as a buyer’s market. They figured they didn’t have to worry too much about employee retention because their workers were not likely to look for another job in such a poor employment environment.
However, this overlooks an important fact: The best employees will always be in high demand, regardless of unemployment statistics. With the U.S. economy now stabilizing, it’s more important than ever to focus on retention strategies that will help you hold onto your best and brightest workers.


Eliminate High Employee Turnover

Here are five ideas you can put into practice now to boost employee retention and relations in the current high-employment environment:

1. Put your employees first — really. Many businesses make the claim that “our people are our greatest asset.” Then they implement policies and procedures and adopt an attitude toward their employees that communicates the exact opposite.

“Putting your employees first doesn’t mean you have to accommodate every employee request for higher salaries and wages or fancy perks and benefits,” says Phil Sprayberry, Executive Vice President and Director of Human Resources for Cadence Bank. “Instead, it requires creating a corporate culture where each employee’s personal dignity is respected and employee contributions are valued.”

Strive to create a culture where employees feel free to express new ideas without fear of being ignored or, worse, ridiculed.

2. Get the “vision” thing right. One of your main responsibilities as a business owner is to cast a vision for the future of the company. For example, where do you see the business five or 10 years from now? And more importantly, what kind of opportunities will this vision present for your employees?

Your most talented employees probably are looking beyond their jobs today in anticipation of what their future jobs will look like. If you don’t share with them your vision for the company’s future and their place in it, they may start looking for another employer who will.

3. Don’t hold back on providing feedback. It’s human nature to want to know how we’re doing, whether it’s in our job, family duties or other responsibilities. This is generally true whether the feedback we receive is positive or negative. “Therefore, make sure you and your managers are providing regular performance feedback to your employees on a consistent basis,” says Sprayberry.

Most companies conduct annual performance reviews, but once a year is not nearly often enough when it comes to employee feedback. Look for ways to offer constructive feedback to employees whenever you can, even on an informal basis. The occasional “Great job!” or “Can I point out a few ways you could have done this differently?” will go a long way toward boosting employee morale and loyalty to your company.

4. Remember that employee recognition is important. For many employees, public praise and recognition are just as satisfying and motivating as money. And it doesn’t cost your company a dime to praise and recognize employees for jobs well done.

So don’t hesitate to toot an employee’s horn (loudly) if he or she has gone above and beyond the call of duty or made a major contribution to your company’s success. “For example, you can publicly acknowledge the employee at a company meeting, feature the employee in your corporate communications (like your newsletter or website), or praise the employee during a meeting with an important client,” says Sprayberry.

5. Don’t skimp on salary. While praise and recognition are important, they are not a substitute for competitive compensation. Your top employees expect to be compensated at a level that reflects their performance and contributions.

Compensation goes beyond just wages and salary — it also includes benefits (like health insurance, a retirement plan and vacation time), and possibly a bonus or profit-sharing plan, depending on the employee’s duties and responsibilities. Structure a total compensation package that is large enough to attract, and then retain, the best employees.

Strengthen Employee Loyalty

It’s impossible to achieve 100 percent employee retention, as some employees will eventually leave due to factors beyond your control. However, implementing these ideas will go a long way toward strengthening employee loyalty and decreasing costly turnover in any employment environment.


This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.


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