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WNC Business

How employers can effectively retain current employees

Oct 05, 2022 02:50PM ● By Mary Beth Dallman

First, it’s important to have a great business manager, leadership coach, or human resources individual on your side. Post-pandemic times have created a paradigm shift in the needs and wants of employees, which has led to customization of hiring packages. A leadership professional that can help navigate those waters is essential, and maintaining equality within policies and rules is an important legality. Younger generations that are filling today’s roles have a different agenda, and partnerships between employers and these employees are the key to success. Within this article, one will find multiple ways to keep employees at any level engaged and increase eagerness to stay.

Show me the money

As an HR and leadership professional, I have always professed that pay isn’t always the catalyst to an employee staying or leaving. Today, however, there is a slight shift to that mindset. If we are moving with the times, cost of living and childcare expenses are a concern. In addition, housing, groceries, and fuel costs have all gone up. Right now, pay is vitally important to the professional.

Tackling pay

Market research: Make sure you’re doing true market research. This can help you find the appropriate numbers to offer comparable pay within the WNC region.

Bonuses: Tie financial bonuses or benefits to performance. In order to get the best from this idea, get to know the employee and what they need. Examples could be:

  1. Bonuses that pay towards childcare needs.

  2. Monthly phone bill stipends. 

  3. Student loan bonus pay incentives.

Compensation Packages: To complement the prior idea of bonuses, create even more value by developing a comprehensive snapshot of the employee’s total compensation package such as the combination of salary plus benefits and potential bonuses. 


A proper introduction to the organization and its culture sets the tone for the employee’s time with the company. Having thorough training and a support system from day one lets an employee know how they can contribute. 

Communicate clearly

Using language in the correct way is critical in leadership. Learning the art of communication is a crucial leadership skill that one can possess. Below are some examples of how leadership can encourage meaningful communication with and among their employees.

  1. Clearly communicate expectations.

  2. Offer professional development opportunities.

  3. Encourage peer-to-peer camaraderie.

  4. Communicate an understanding of strategic decisions.

Recognition and Rewards

Appreciation for employees can be impactful. Rewards and recognition can celebrate an individual, showing them that they are appreciated. Consider getting to know your employees individually in order to determine what type of recognition would have the most meaningful effect. For example, having the CEO or business owner treating an employee to coffee might be the ticket for one employee, whereas another employee would rather leave a little early to spend time with their family.

In addition to individual employee recognition, there are many company-wide celebration options that are a hit as well. Celebrating big and small company milestones not only show recognition, but togetherness. Examples could be:

  1. Sharing a meal with employees.

  2. Offering an extra day off.

  3. Company swag giveaways.

Develop internal employees

Employee development increases your retention rate as well as contributes to the company’s productivity and continued growth. Here are some ideas to implement internal employee development:

  1. Engrain “training for success” as part of the company culture.

  2. Take career progression seriously.

  3. Initiate personality or performance assessments like DiSC or MBTI to help understand your team.

  4. Schedule a one on one meeting to determine what an employee’s goals are.

  5. Create a “training for success” plan.

  6. Set performance metrics.

  7. Give regular feedback through one on one meetings.

  8. Delegate responsibilities.

  9. Engage in cross training.

  10. Dedicate resources such as coaching, training workshops, team-building activities, professional networks to your employees.

  11. Eliminate barriers such as siloed departments or rigid structure and process.

When the company has successfully created a succession plan and grown trusted employees, it has saved on external recruiting and training.

In addition to a formal internal development plan, let employees use their skills. As a leader, learn about employee specific talents and encourage them to use those strengths towards the growth of the company. Autonomy is an incredible retention tool as it encourages employees to take on more challenges and creates passion toward their work. 

Feedback and decision making

It’s empowering for employees to experience transparency. The practice of soliciting new ideas, asking questions, and sharing comments is a best practice for leadership. The best times to collect feedback include:

  1. After onboarding, orientation, and training.

  2. At 30-, 60-, 90-day employment marks.

  3. During monthly or quarterly one on one meetings with leadership members.

  4. Whenever there is a culture, process, or policy change.

Similarly, fostering teamwork-encouraged decision-making encourages engagement by allowing employees to contribute and offer suggestions. This method achieves a cohesive culture, allowing individuals to express the view of their workstyles, differences, and diversity. Teamwork-encouraged decision-making also increases ownership and engagement.

Work-life balance and flexibility

During the pandemic, families rediscovered the importance of mental health, family, and personal priorities. This is also a shift for companies that require in-person employment. Including the above topic of feedback and decision-making, this is where work-life balance comes into play. Work-life balance is not a parallel retention tool. For example, some options could include deciding between:

  1. Taking off early vs. taking a long lunch break.

  2. Working four 12-hour shifts vs. working virtual one weekday.

Showing employees that you understand the importance of flexibility towards work-life balance can provide them with job satisfaction, relieving stress and increasing retention. 

Quality Leadership

Leadership is the responsibility to execute strategy and vision; however, quality leadership isn’t possible without demonstrating trustworthiness. Trust can be built by: 

  1. Communication and transparency of company values, vision, goals, and revenue.

  2. Demonstration of loyalty, truthfulness, and transparency, all without micromanaging employees.

The biggest threat to employees (especially those in key positions) potentially leaving a company is lack of trust. If there is an undercurrent of deception, it impedes the progress of growth, accountability, and can put employees in an uncomfortable position. Quality leadership that is transparent and built on the above policies is key to encouraging employees and leaders to continue doing meaningful work. 

Engaging workplace

One of the biggest changes currently in the workforce is rekindling connections between employers and staff. Employees are more often working remotely, and some companies are not holding group gatherings as often as before the pandemic. This new normal has provided a space for improvement of team bonding and celebration methods. Encouraging employees to get together improves their work production. Engaging in deeper connection brings motivation to come to work, whether remote or in person.  

Retaining employees is crucial to the overall success of a company. Investing in employee retention is arguably the most impactful move leadership could make in the current workforce state. 

Mary Beth Dallman is an Asheville native and national executive/leadership coach. With an extensive career in Human Resources and Organizational Development, she is proud to serve local businesses with their culture, HR, and leadership needs. Her company, This Leader Life, offers a variety of workplace consulting, coaching and workshop opportunities for businesses and leaders. 

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