Retaining Employees in a Tight Market

Published On: October 18, 2018By Categories: Business Management, People at Work

Benefits and a sense of value will give your company the best team.

By Alexandra Walsh

With a tight labor market and flat salary increases, employers must examine their retention efforts to be sure they are retaining the right talent.

Strategies that worked in the past may no longer be effective today. Employers need to evaluate their retention strategies regularly to stay current on market trends and best practices to be an employer-of-choice.

The Benefit of Benefits

Employees will be attracted to a benefits package that is both comprehensive and competitive. Providing health insurance and life insurance is key in retaining employees, as is supplying a retirement-savings plan.

But also consider any additional benefits offered by your competitors. Going above and beyond the norm will show employees how much you care about their well-being and value their loyalty. Consider offerings such as child-care benefits or holiday bonuses as incentives for employee loyalty.

Open-Door Policy

Employee retention comes down to employee appreciation. Employees who feel valued will be less likely to leave. An open-door policy shows you care about what your workers think and you want to hear their thoughts. Giving employees a say makes them feel like they’re part of a team, which makes them more likely to be loyal.


Few things build employee loyalty as well as recognizing and affirming great work. A job well done deserves to be noticed. Taking the time to notice, acknowledge, and express gratitude for your employees’ work can go a long way. Thanking someone in person, or praising them in front of their peers, will make them feel valued.

An “Employee of the Month” program or recognition in a group email can have the same effect.

Prioritize Well-Being

Health and wellness programs are another great way to boost employee retention rates. A worker’s physical, mental, and emotional health matters, certainly to them but also to their employer. An overworked or overly stressed employee can only go for so long before something has to give. Healthy employees do the best work. If you assign high priority to their well-being and health, they will be more likely to stick
with you. That simple.

Build a Company Culture and Community

Company culture is key to job satisfaction. What is a company culture? A company’s values, goals, reputation, work environment, management style, how managers relate to workers and workers relate to each other, all these create the “personality” of a company, in other words, a company culture.

Companies must check and be sure they are correctly portraying their culture during the recruiting and onboarding processes—especially for millennials. How would your employees describe your culture?

Financial benefits and praise from a superior only go so far. A lack of community within a company can make many workers question their future. If employees feel like they’re a valuable part of a team, they will be more likely to stay around. It is much more difficult for someone to leave a workplace if they feel like they are going to be leaving behind friendships and camaraderie.


Onboarding programs are a key factor in employee retention. Onboarding must be about more than just the basic administrative processes such as submitting paperwork and logging on to the company intranet. It should be an in-depth process introducing the new hire to company culture, vision, expectations, and priorities.

It should also help new hires understand available resources and development opportunities to help them succeed. Building effective relationships and networks is also critical to an employee’s success. They need to know how to navigate the company’s organization in order to effectively perform their job.


Mentor programs are not only beneficial for new hires to learn about a company; they also benefit current employees by helping them listen to and understand the viewpoints and experiences of those at the company. Mentoring allows the new hires to see different insights and encourages them to become more agile as they go about their jobs.

Employee Development

Top employees want to continuously grow and learn. Development is a key retention tool and business imperative. Development takes on many forms—for example, classroom learning, job rotations, job shadowing.

Be Competitive

Understand what is going on in your marketplace—whether it is local, regional, or national. What are the market trends and best practices within your industry or your local area? What matters most to the talent you want to attract? Where do you want to position your organization on the spectrum of rewards offered? What differentiates your business from the competition?

Be Candid and Follow Through

Recruiters and hiring managers need to paint a clear picture of what will be expected of the candidate in his or her new role. They also need to ensure any promises or commitments of resources, job structure, and reporting relationships are fulfilled.

Generational Awareness

Understand your workforce and your talent pools. For example, millennials make up the largest segment of today’s labor market and are much more willing to change jobs after only a short period of employment. Take heed!

Hiring Process

Use a disciplined approach to drive your hiring process, and if there is a hiring team (HR, managers, outside group), make sure it is completely aligned on specific roles and expectations in the process. Hire for capability, commitment, and fit!


The key to retaining employees is to make workers feel valued. Employees should see themselves as genuine assets to a team they care about. Whether via comprehensive benefits or public affirmation, such as a travel incentive bonus, a worker who feels appreciated is a worker who will stay . . . and stay loyal.

Alexandra Walsh is the vice president of Association Vision, a Washington, D.C.–area communications company. She has extensive experience in management positions with a range of organizations.

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