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Employee retention strategies from HR experts to keep top performers

Written by Amanda Day
Amanda Day

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Every HR professional understands the general value of retaining top performers.

Yet so many employers don’t develop structured retention programs. 

Remote’s employee turnover report set out to emphasize the importance of intentional policies that increase retention rates. 

The respondents made it clear that employers with stronger retention capabilities spend significantly less time and money in the recruitment and training of new employees.

So what can you do to reduce employee turnover and keep more of your superstar performers?

Read on to cherry-pick the report’s most important insights, and stick around for 10 actionable retention strategies shared by a collection of world-leading global HR and remote work experts. 

Two scary stats that prove you can’t afford to lose top talent

These two learnings stood out above the rest, basically demonstrating that employers stand to save significant time and money by increasing staff retention rates:

It costs 35% of an employee's salary to find and hire a new worker 

According to the employers we surveyed, it costs an average of 35% of an employee’s salary to find and hire a new worker for the business. This expense can spiral if multiple employees leave over time, and the costs to recruit can significantly outweigh an investment into policies designed to retain existing employees. 

In the UK, it costs around 26.1% of an employee's salary to find and hire a new member of staff, that’s on average £7,729 per new employee based on the average UK annual salary

In the USA it costs around 42.7% of an employee’s salary to find and hire someone new, based on the average salary in the US, this costs businesses $22,814 on average to find a new staff member. 

It takes an average of 40 days to find and hire a new employee 

Hiring someone new takes time as well as money, taking businesses an average of 40 days to find the appropriate new candidate. In the UK, it takes an average 39 days, and in the US it takes slightly longer at 40 days. 

Consider the time it takes you to hire new employees. Layer over the impact on the workload and morale of your existing team after an employee leaves. This period is a great time to introduce benefits and policies that will allow employees to manage their life-work balance. A genuine response shows that you care.

How to reduce employee turnover with a strong talent retention strategy

Remote has investigated the best industries, job functions and levels for employee retention across the UK and US.

What are the factors dragging down your employee retention rates?

We asked employers what they believe causes high turnover rates amongst their staff. 

Four overwhelming responses stood out.

  • Over half of employers (54%) agreed that a poor work-life balance can lead to high turnover

  • 53% of employers replied that a lack of work flexibility can contribute to employees' decision to leave 

  • Overwork of employees can also lead to a high turnover rate, with 52% of employers saying this is a contributing factor 

  • The same amount of employers said that a lack of employee benefits can lead to high turnover rates in companies

Top 10 causes of high employee turnover

Rank

Cause of high employee turnover rate

% of employers

1

Organizational restructuring

55%

2

Poor work-life balance

54%

3

Personal circumstances

54%

4

Lack of work flexibility

53%

5

Lack of employee benefits

52%

6

Being overworked

52%

7

Lack of innovation

51%

8

Lack of employee purpose

50%

9

No feedback or recognition

50%

10

Poor compensation rates

50%

Innovative employee retention strategies you can use to keep your best talent

The companies and leaders in this analysis revealed several key insights: 

  • Employees are indeed leaving their jobs, but they are not doing so at random. 

  • Companies offering competitive salaries, increased flexibility, good benefits plans, and roadmaps for employee growth and development are much more likely to attract and retain the best and brightest from around the world

  • No matter where in the world you hire, the secret ingredient to fostering retention is always a great employee experience — and that’s exactly what Remote can provide for companies building globally distributed teams 

How can you prevent the most common employee turnover triggers?

The practical responses are simple and often inexpensive. Employers should work to support their employees' life-work balance. Demonstrate that you care about your employees as individuals, and acknowledge that elite performers can put life before work and still deliver sustained productivity.

A simple and cost-effective solution is the introduction of a flexible working policy, which allows employees to spend less time commuting and more time in their homes and take ownership of their schedules. 

Offering stronger health and wellbeing benefits is another great way employers can retain their staff by showing they care for and respect their employees. A specific mental health program for remote teams can be particularly effective in providing support and boosting retention rates.

These tactics can make a huge difference for employers looking to retain top talent. 

But enough of the generalities.

You want more specific and actionable retention strategies to implement for meaningful impact.

Below you’ll find practical advice from a collection of global HR and remote work leaders that you can use to keep more of your best team members. These insights will help you develop the type of connection, loyalty, and motivation that results in low staff turnover. 

10 practical retention strategies from global remote work experts 

Build genuine connections by celebrating wins and milestones

Rowena Hennigan – Remote work keynote speaker, professor and startup advisor for Nurall

“Sometimes it is the simple things that people appreciate and can foster team loyalty and bolster retention. For example - keeping a central calendar of your team members birthdays, anniversaries, and special cultural dates and simply acknowledging them on team channels or with simple small messages is a thoughtful and appreciative way to support meaning and inclusion in international remote teams.”

Develop an equitable and transparent compensation policy

Pavania Naidu – Senior Total Rewards Specialist at Remote

“When employees feel that they are compensated fairly for their work — in relation to their skills and in comparison to the remuneration received by their colleagues — they tend to be happier and more motivated. Equitable compensation is really one of the cornerstones when it comes to retention in any organization. An equitable compensation philosophy instills trust and confidence in employees, who in turn feel incentivized to perform better and remain with a company.”

Respect time and avoid meetings at all costs

Darren Murph – VP, Workplace Design and Remote Experience at Andela

“Compensation typically boils down to two forms: money or time. A great way to retain top performers is to implement workflows and policies that show extreme respect for their time. For example, implementing a tool like Xembly to record meetings they can't attend and automatically create notes for digestion at a time that suits them. You can also implement a "No Agenda, No Attenda" policy, which maintains a high bar on what meetings are scheduled.”

Survey your team and show your responses to their feedback

Darcy Boles – Remote-first advisor at Shift with Darcy Marie and former internal head of remote consultant at Stripe

“This may sound super simple, but it can be pretty powerful: Ask your employees why they stay. Design a survey that digs into the “why” behind your top formers retention. Analyze the data and watch for specific patterns. Once you have the information you can scale design for those magical moments and deliver consistent and effective strategies to keep your top performers (and incentivize lower performers to step up!)”

Give your team members control over their own schedule

Jayne Morris – Co-Founder at Balanceology and author of Burnout to Brilliance: Strategies for Sustainable Success

“Give employees full autonomy over their working hours and annual leave.  Allow them to flex and set their schedules.  Give them the ability to take time to rest and recharge at their pace.  If you truly have the right person in the right role, then they won’t abuse their position.  They will find fulfillment in doing a great job for you, so they will maintain that.  Let them find their own sustainable way of performing optimally.  The cost of not doing this is losing your top performers to burnout.  This will likely begin as presenteeism, then absenteeism, then leavism - all of which are exceptionally costly.”

Build genuine connections by celebrating wins and milestones

Vanessa Tierney – CEO at Abodoo and steering committee member at Digital Future for Europe

“Over 70% of employees are in fact seeking career guidance from their employers and when remote, this can be even higher. Implementing career pathways through up-skilling can be very powerful. Empowering employees to map their skills will enable you to deliver effective and impactful remote learning and career pathways. Through this process, new skills will be uncovered within your organization and by embracing remote work, this will lead to greater retention.”

Offer flexibility by making more meetings asynchronous

Sergio Pereira – CTO at Bulk MRO Industrial Supply

“Asynchronous meetings offer the perfect balance between flexibility and accountability, allowing top performers to remain engaged and productive without feeling overburdened. By creating a culture of trust and respect, where employees are empowered to take ownership of their work and manage their own time, companies can ensure that their top performers remain motivated and committed to their roles."

Support your employees to create life-work balance

Stephen van der Heijden - VP Community at OfferZen

“If you’re looking to retain your senior team members and leads, you need to prioritize their work-life balance. According to data collected from the OfferZen Developer community, 61% of seniors and 57% of Tech Leads list a good work-life balance as their top reason for staying in a role. In fact, work-life balance is twice as important to your seniors than salary when it comes to staying in a role. In practice, that can mean greater flexibility in how and when they work and respecting their time away from work.”

Localize your benefits offering for your global team

Joana Viana – Senior Global Benefits Design & Strategy Expert at Remote]

"If you want to attract and retain a global team for a sustained period, you must offer a locally customized, globally competitive benefits plan. While it’s easy to fall into a ‘one size fits all’ trap, offering all employees the same benefits package wherever they are in the world, it’s very unlikely that this solution will address their needs. Benefits design should account for local needs and cultural differences as much as possible. This doesn’t just enable you to attract top talent. The best benefits programs are critical for talent retention."

Guarantee compliance with Remote’s customized global benefits plans

Trust Remote’s global HR experts to build curated, locally compliant benefits packages at globally competitive rates.

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The single most important retention strategy for all remote team leaders

The last word at Remote is often best left to our founder and CEO, Job van der Voort. After more than a decade of leading globally distributed teams in high-growth environments, Job has some sage wisdom that summarizes the learnings above into one clear takeaway. Every employer should treat this as the foundation of any retention strategy.

Trust your employees

Job van der Voort – CEO of Remote

“You should be able to trust your employees from the first day. If you can’t do that, then why did you hire them? Providing trust early and measuring results instead of hours allows you to create an amazing work environment for 99% of people from the start while allowing you to identify anyone taking advantage of that freedom in bad faith very quickly.”

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