How to Retain Employees – Knowing What They Truly Value

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Hiring managers, human resources professionals, or retail owners will all tell you that retaining employees is difficult.

The current labor market is challenging in ways we haven’t encountered before. Nearly 48 million people left their jobs in 2021. Baby boomers are retiring faster than they can be replaced and taking a generation of institutional knowledge with them. A pandemic-inspired general reprioritization has resulted in a large portion of the workforce viewing their professional lives much differently.

Given the challenges of the current environment, it is critical that we do everything we can as retailers to retain employees, including staying current regarding what employees truly value. Being responsive to today’s workforce’s needs will also help attract future high-quality candidates.

We will explore three key areas of importance to today’s employees. When we design strategies that support those areas, it will serve to retain valued team members. These focus areas include organizational culture, development opportunities, and employee wellness support.

Today’s workforce places great importance on a healthy, diverse organizational culture. Team members value a supportive environment that offers an attractive employee value proposition and a strong company mission with values.

An employee value proposition is the set of benefits an employee receives in return for the skills, capabilities, and experience they bring to a company. Take a moment to view your organization’s value proposition from the employee’s perspective.

People want to be a part of a company that hires based on its values and mission and then lives that mission. Hiring employees in accordance with your company values is an imperative employee-retention strategy. Research shows several keys to retaining top talent: being clear about the organization’s values, hiring those that can support those values, and ensuring that the mission is more than a plaque on a conference room wall.

Today’s workforce places a high value on the availability of development opportunities. Our team members want to grow and learn and value being part of an organization that offers those opportunities. Some critical aspects of development include:

Excelling at onboarding

We understandably associate onboarding with the hiring process, but also crucial in keeping that new hire in the organization. When new to our organization, individuals often feel unsettled and disconnected, but there is much that the organization can do to minimize that discomfort. When you provide new employees with a thorough, organized onboarding experience, they are introduced to the organization at their best. The experience makes them feel confident in their decision to accept the role and look positively toward a future with the organization.

Paying market-related compensation and benefits

Higher compensation is not the most important factor, but it’s a factor, nonetheless. Employers should strive to be as responsive as possible to market conditions.

Focusing on professional development

Whether offered internally or externally, work to support your employees’ learning journey by providing professional development opportunities, including leadership development opportunities. Whether it is sending team members to an industry conference, paying for a professional membership, or developing an internal growth program, this access to the development will go a long way to keep valued employees on your teams.

Rewarding conscientious employees

It is not uncommon for organizations to get in the habit of offering little support to our most hardworking, conscientious team members. After all, they are doing good work and asking for very little, but they also need help. Engaging with these top performers is vital to retaining them. Explore creative ways to acknowledge their outstanding work and loyalty that are tailored to how they prefer to be recognized. Many organizations are offering “innovation bonuses” to high-performing employees.

Today’s workforce is recognizing that health is true wealth. Recent research shows that as much as 50% of turnover can be attributed to burnout. There are many ways to promote wellness.

Provide flexible working options. In some roles, remote work isn’t an option—that’s fair. What other opportunities for flexibility can you explore? Much of today’s workforce appreciates the versatility of a hybrid schedule or flex time. Try not to get stuck in rigid (possibly outdated) systems that don’t allow for more innovative solutions.

Advocate for work-life balance. Are your team members using their paid time off? Recent studies show that individuals who take vacations are more likely to get raises and be promoted. Support reasonable working hours and the establishment of solid boundaries. Ensure your environment encourages healthy approaches to work, not where employees feel they have to apologize for using the benefits they were given.

Promote wellness initiatives. Whether it is an on-site workout facility, a mental health counseling benefit, or a monthly massage voucher, healthy employees tend to be happier employees. Happy employees are more likely to contribute fully and stick around.

Much of today’s workforce consists of individuals with clear priorities and the opportunities to seek out the roles and workplaces that best align with those priorities. As organizations, investing in staying ahead of the curve makes sense to retain our valued, hardworking team members. This investment will be most impactful when supported by a highly functioning internal environment reflective of solid organizational values.

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