7 Tips to Boost Employee Retention that Don’t Involve a Pay Increase

Employee retention is a top concern for every organization. With low unemployment, employees are not only more willing to job-hop for more money or a promotion, but employers are often quick to poach talent from other organizations. As a result, nearly 2/3 of employers say they’re having trouble retaining employees, and nearly 80% of nonprofits have raised salaries in an attempt to keep staff.

But more money is not the only solution, and in fact, it may not even be the best solution. Over 75% of workers in a Glassdoor survey say company culture matters and more than half said a good culture was more important than salary in determining their job satisfaction.

How to Boost Retention with a Great Workplace Culture 

1) Prioritize wellbeing.

An environment in which staff feels pressured to work long hours, give up lunch breaks and respond to email during PTO creates a toxic culture that’s a top factor in attrition and 10X more important than compensation in predicting turnover.

Instead, prioritizing a healthy work/life balance and giving employees flexible work options can increase retention by showing staff you care about them as people. Plenty of evidence indicates that taking breaks is essential for productivity, so emphasizing performance over seat time can help employees feel better and do their best work. 

2) Engage remote teams.

Remote work can make staff feel isolated, forgotten and more likely to quit. To avoid remote attrition, make a conscious effort to make them feel included by using video collaboration tools to engage them in teambuilding games and activities with in-office staff.

Holding frequent one-on-ones and regular check-ins with managers is also essential—studies show that remote workers who receive frequent feedback from their supervisor are 3X more likely to be engaged, and therefore more likely to stick around.

3) Bolster onboarding.

First impressions can make or break any relationship, including the one you have with your team. Some 80% of new hires who experience poor onboarding plan to quit soon, while 70% of those who feel well-prepared right out of the gate plan to stay.

Robust onboarding, which includes not only job-specific training but also education on benefits, support services and company culture, can drastically improve retention by improving engagement.

4) Develop better leaders.

It’s well known that bad bosses drive turnover, while a supportive manager can improve employee retention by as much as 300%. Investing in leadership coaching to train managers in how to build better relationships and remediate interpersonal issues can drastically reduce turnover by creating a more collaborative and motivating team environment.

5) Foster innovation.

A cut-throat culture that makes employees fear punishment for failure stifles curiosity, innovation, and creativity, which ultimately drives employees away. Instead, give employees the freedom to experiment, take calculated risks and test new approaches. This reinforces that their talent and expertise are valuable to your organization and even if they fail, those learnings also have value for both the employee and your company.

6) Encourage authenticity.

Diversity and inclusion are top priorities for every organization. But too often, employees feel pressure to fit in and adopt a “work persona” that hides their true selves, whether it be their personal hobbies, lifestyle, political or religious views. This dual persona can be exhausting to maintain and make them more likely to quit.

Instead, creating a truly inclusive environment where employees feel comfortable bringing their authentic self to work can make them 2.4X less likely to leave. Often the issue stems from lack of understanding among their peers, so encouraging employees to educate others about their differences can help break down barriers and encourage meaningful conversations.

7) Show appreciation.

Compensation is not the only way to show employees you value their work. Showing gratitude and recognition through shout-outs on Slack, sending personal notes congratulating a job well done, or calling out their contributions to supervisors can not only reduce the likelihood they’ll look for a new job but also drive key business outcomes.

When budgets are tight and there’s stiff competition from higher-paying organizations, it can be particularly tough for nonprofits to retain top talent. Creating an environment where people feel valued and fulfilled can give organizations with any budget an differential advantage, especially at a time when people are craving purpose, meaning, and mission alignment more than ever.