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How to drastically improve your workforce retention

Written by Lien Ponnet on 27 September 2023 for Companies

Improving workforce retention could be one of the best ways of gaining a competitive edge in today’s tight talent market.

If you’re an employer or hiring manager, take a moment to consider these stats:

  • 1/3 of new starters changes employers in the first year
  • The most talented employees prefer a new job every 2 to 4 years
  • The replacement of an employee can cost up 60% of that employee’s annual salary

See the problem?

If you’re an employer, and these stats don’t worry you, you’re obviously doing something right. Congrats! But for the rest of us mere mortals, the rewards of improving workforce retention should be obvious. If your turnover is less than ideal and you’re interested in doing something about it, keep reading.

Bridging the generation gap in your workplace

In this post, we’ll offer five research-backed strategies for retaining your most valuable business asset: your employees.

#1 Create the right culture

Despite more firms than ever using sophisticated selection and interview processes, research shows that roughly one-third of people who start a new job this year will leave within 12 months. So, what gives?

Hiring managers clearly feel they can find a good fit between the job requirements and the employees they hire. But what exactly is a good fit?  Is finding someone with the right competencies for the job enough? Or should you look for more?

The secret to boosting workforce retention is creating the right culture for the type of employees you want to hire.

If you work on creating an attractive environment for your ‘ideal’ employees, you’ll be much more successful at finding staff who feel a strong bond with your culture and ethos. Looking for staff who work well in a casual, laid back atmosphere? You probably won’t get far with a strict, by-the-book workplace vibe!

How to drastically improve young workforce retention

Likewise, there are some key differences between today’s generations when it comes to preferred communication styles, feedback expectations, and work/life balance. So if you’re geared towards a baby-boomer-friendly workplace, you probably aren’t going to keep many Millenials around for very long!

That’s why working on developing a culture that matches the type of employee you want to attract is one of the best ways of boosting workforce retention. But note that this is not something you do overnight. Creating or even changing your company culture is a long-term process and should be treated as such. It’s about way more than perks and flexibility but more on that in the third strategy.

#2 Retention starts with recruiting

As we mentioned earlier, employee turnover is really expensive! The replacement of an employee can cost up 60% of that employee’s annual salary, and we’re not even talking about more senior roles. Recruiting plays a vital role in keeping these costs in check and can certainly help you weed out job hoppers! But what if there’s more to recruiting than matching competencies to vacancies?

Staff retention is often thought of as something that starts after a hire is made. But retention actually starts during the recruiting process.

In an interview with CIO, Dan Pickett, CEO of Nfrastructure, explained how his firm achieved an unheard of 97 staff retention rate by integrating retention into the application process when screening applicants to choosing who to interview.

Some strategies you can use include:

  • Explaining your company culture in the job description.
  • Highlighting soft skills that fit well with your workplace environment.
  • Test for cultural fit by using some sort of personality test.

How to drastically improve young workforce retention

These strategies will help you increase workplace retention by actively looking for people who are likely to match with your company culture.

#3 Focus on happiness rather than wellbeing

When many businesses realize they have a turnover problem, they fall into the trap of focusing on wellbeing rather than happiness. Although these terms seem similar, there’s actually quite a bit difference between them! Dominique Pellegrino, who has loads of experience when it comes to hiring recent graduates and professionals, recently gave a very interesting presentation on this topic.

Icebergs are cool, so let’s use an iceberg analogy! Wellbeing is like the tip of the iceberg – it’s the stuff you can see. And it’s pretty easy to cater to. Give your staff enough perks like fun events, game rooms, some free lunch and gym memberships and you’ve pretty much got it covered.

But happiness goes much deeper than wellbeing; it’s like the large portion of an iceberg that’s beneath the surface of the water. Happiness is all about values, transparency, recognition and freedom. It’s more challenging to focus on, but it’s way more important when it comes staff retention.

How to drastically improve young workforce retention © Dominique Pellegrino

So how can you focus on happiness? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. The solution lies in creating a good workplace culture where employees feel empowered to be creative and feel that they are given recognition. To create an open, transparent environment where everyone feels they have a sense of mission, here are some strategies you can use:

  • Define and explain your company’s mission during professional development days and ensure that all staff members are aware of the direction you are headed in.
  • Be transparent. Share important decisions with your staff and invite them to contribute their ideas during meetings. This lets them know that their opinions have been heard and they feel more comfortable about new changes.
  • Give regular staff appraisals and feedback to reward your employees for their hard work.

Fostering employee happiness takes time but is critical to boosting staff retention and lowering turnover.

#4 Offer training and growth

If you want to stop your staff from heading to the exit at the earliest opportunity, take their education seriously. When you offer the right training and growth opportunities, staff will appreciate it as an investment in their careers. According to LinkedIn, 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.

Ultimately, this helps you build loyalty and means you’re much more likely to retain the high-quality staff you need to thrive in today’s challenging business environment. If you want to learn more about the Exellys training and coaching programs you can do so right here.

If you don't gove your employees a chance they'll go look for it elsewhere

If your turnover is high, review the way that you are treating your staff’s professional training and development. According to MRINetwork, 44% of employees don’t feel like they have sufficient opportunities for professional growth in their current position and 72% actually changes jobs because of career advancement opportunities, so always strive to offer each member of your workforce a clear career path with growing responsibilities. Obviously, not everyone is going to be able to lead a team or manage a department, but career advancement doesn’t have to equal leadership. It’s important to have experts as well. So, map out all possible tracks within your organization and offer perspective to the ones who are at the very start.

#5 Value tech

It should come as no surprise that having modern technology is a must for retaining a workforce. But did you know that almost half of recent starters would actually quit a job is the tech was sub-par? If you’re used to hiring Baby Boomers, this may come as quite a shock to you!

Unlike older generations, Millenials not only expect but actively seek out companies that are using cutting-edge tech and innovations. The tech isn’t just an add-on, but a core value that is inseparable from their personal and professional identities.

That’s why investing in tech is one of the best ways to drastically improving your workforce retention; you are chiming with worker’s core values and helping to make them happier at work.


We’re not going to lie to you; young workforce retention is tough! Research shows that recent graduates and young professionals will have, on average, four different jobs by the time they reach their early thirties, and, up to 20 during their lifetime. So, you’re swimming against the tide.

How to drastically improve young workforce retention

But the five strategies on our list can help you make a difference. Working on creating the right culture, offering training and growth and valuing tech will help you increase employee happiness and improve retention.