15 Creative Ways to Retain Employees


Ruth Albertson

Jan 20, 2023


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Human Resources

Despite a recent weakening in the economy, employee retention rates continue to drop among many small and large companies. Growing numbers of employees are no longer as interested in the powerful positions or top wages as they once were and instead value workplaces that make them feel appreciated for what they bring to the table. Because it can cost so much for small businesses to hire and train new employees and because a constantly changing workforce can dampen company morale, business owners need to work on creative ways to retain employees. Here are 15 employee retention strategies to improve job satisfaction and strengthen the company.

1. Begin With a Confidence-Building Onboarding Process

Employee retention strategies must begin when a new hire clocks in for the first time. These individuals must feel empowered in their jobs by receiving a proper amount and type of training. With thoughtful onboarding, employees will feel confident on the job. Consider creating a welcome packet that answers many of the new employees' top questions. In addition, create a training program that allows employees to learn new tasks and skills logically.

2. Start Mentorship Programs with Top Talent

Mentorship programs are ideal for new employees and employees who have been with your company for some time. This sense of partnership can be empowering as employees learn to work together and feel that they have someone who has gone before them and can answer their questions. Consider using your top employees for this, and only pick naturally outgoing employees rather than those who prefer working alone.

3. Invest in Employees’ Work/Life Balance

Balancing Work and Life

As mentioned, receiving increased pay and climbing the corporate ladder is no longer what many employees look for in their jobs. Instead, numerous individuals have discovered that a healthy work/life balance is more important to them as this can affect their long-term physical and mental health. You can support this balance by offering health and wellness perks, such as extra personal days, and supporting a hybrid workplace with employees working remotely whenever possible. You can also check out our article about 3 ways to stay healthy in business.

4. Offer Flexible Work Schedules

Not only should you keep work environments as flexible as possible with occasional days spent working from home, but you should also consider how you can create flexible work schedules for employees with other personal and family demands. Depending on the type of small business you own, you may still need a certain number of employees in the building at times. However, you might consider allowing employees to self-schedule when possible or to schedule multiple shorter shifts rather than a few traditional eight-hour shifts per week. Offering flexible work schedules is one of the top creative ways to retain employees. 

5. Use Recognition for Both Results and Positive Efforts

Recognition and rewards have traditionally been given only to employees who get the best results, bring in the most money or have the best numbers. However, this tends to leave out many employees who are giving their all to your company but who may need to be on the front lines or working full-time schedules. Be sure to include all employees who are working diligently for you by recognizing positive efforts in team meetings or giving personal notes or small gifts.

6. Provide Professional Development Opportunities

Depending on your business niche, you may be able to invest in some of your employees by paying for them to attend professional development classes or seminars. This small investment can pay off massively when they return to your company with fresh excitement for the job and new ideas to help your company reach out to more clients more effectively.

7. Create an Empowering Company Culture

Empowered Employees

Company culture is a popular phrase for most managers and business owners, but many need help understanding how to change a bad culture or hire employees who will fit with the current culture. Your company’s culture refers to how things are done in your company, including both those mandated systems and the personal behaviors accepted among the staff. Some keys for you as the business owner include respecting every employee, practicing inclusivity rather than favoritism, and resisting the urge to micromanage your employees.

8. Use an Open-Door Policy for Feedback

One important way to create a positive company culture is to have an open-door policy. This means that you are always willing to hear any concerns your employees have or answer questions. This shows that you trust your employees and that they can trust you to be transparent and understand what is affecting them.

9. Retain Employees by Changing Job Duties

Most employees want to feel challenged in some way in their jobs. This prevents work from becoming mundane. While not all employees thrive on constant innovation, many come to work with highly creative ideas that could improve your company. They may simply be waiting for you to give them the go-ahead to apply these ideas. Be sure to give these trusted employees the responsibility they need to feel valued and energized by changes in their job duties.

10. Leverage Sabbaticals for Long-Term Employees

Sabbaticals are often thought of only in specific professions, such as ministry or teaching. However, they can be leveraged in nearly any field as one of the top creative ways to retain employees, reward years of hard work, and reduce the incidence of burnout. Sabbaticals do not have to last for a year, as you may have heard but could simply last a month or two based on your budget. Your employees will return to work with increased motivation and improved mental health.

11. Continue Using Monetary Benefits

Boss giving a bonus

Monetary benefits still appeal to employees as long as a healthy paycheck is paired with many other strategies. Be sure to investigate typical pay scales for your company’s niche to ensure that you are competitive in what you offer. However, if you are just starting out with a small budget, you can still attract high-quality workers with slightly lower pay as long as you offer other attractive perks.

12. Offer Unique Workplace Perks

Employee benefits simply mean the insurance, vacation time, childcare, maternity leave, and retirement plan companies would offer their employees. While these perks are still desirable, you may only be able to offer some of them depending on your business size. Despite this, you can still attract star employees with other perks, such as highly flexible hours, a casual and comfortable work environment, and simple pleasures, such as an espresso machine, occasional lunch deliveries, in-house massages, a workout room, or a pet-friendly environment.

13. Learn From Exit Interviews

While your goal is to retain your employees, there may be times when you simply need to stop a valued employee from leaving your company. Using an exit interview that allows the employee to be transparent about what has caused him to leave, you may learn about changes you could make to ensure other employees do not leave over the same concerns.

14. Begin Using Stay Interviews

Person doing an interview

While exit interviews are important for learning how your business may need to change in the future, stay interviews can help you address these concerns before an employee has seriously thought about leaving. Stay interviews should happen regularly and should be times when employees can truthfully tell you the positives and negatives of their jobs.

15. Ask Your Team Members for Ideas

While this list certainly gives you a good place to start in improving employee engagement and overall job satisfaction, not all of them may apply to your business. Reach out to your current employees for other ideas. You may be surprised to learn what strategies most appeal to them and would keep them engaged with and excited about work.

As a small business owner, using creative ways to retain employees may be nearly as important as your financial management, as these two ideas go hand in hand. Whether you need help with business Website design, social media, or generating new leads, schedule a 15-minute discovery call with the small business marketing pros at E-Marketing Associates today!

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