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Prevent Employee Turnover: 15 Strategies That Work

The average employee turnover rate was 11 percent over the last 12 months. One in five employees says they’re “extremely or very likely” to find a new employer in the next 12 months. 

This can be an expensive problem, as the cost of turnover is estimated at one-half to 2x the employee’s annual salary. Understanding what causes employee turnover and the actions you can take to combat this can help you save money and retain talented employees at your organization.

What causes employee turnover?

Employee turnover is the catchall term for workers leaving their employer for any reason. It’s typically measured as an employee turnover rate, dividing the number of total departures by the average number of employees in the same timeframe.

There are two main types of employee turnover: voluntary and involuntary. 

Voluntary employee turnover

Voluntary turnover occurs when someone quits their job to pursue another opportunity, retire, or temporarily leave the workforce. Among American workers who quit a job in 2021:

  • 37% said low pay was a major reason; 26% said it was a minor reason
  • 33% said no opportunities for advancement was a major reason; 30% said it was a minor reason
  • 35% said feeling disrespected at work was a major reason; 21% said it was a minor reason
  • 24% said child care issues were a major reason; 24% said it was a minor reason
  • 24% said not enough flexibility to choose when to put in hours was a major reason; 21% said it was a minor reason
  • 23% said inadequate benefits were a major reason; 20% said it was a minor reason
  • 22% said desire to relocate was a major reason; 13% said it was a minor reason
  • 20% said working too many hours was a major reason; 19% said it was a minor reason
  • 16% said working too few hours was a major reason; 14% said it was a minor reason

Involuntary employee turnover

Involuntary turnover occurs when the employer initiates the separation. This can happen due to layoffs, reductions in workforce, or poor employee performance.

How to prevent employee turnover

Fifty-two percent of exiting employees say that their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job. Here are 15 strategies you can implement to reduce turnover.

1. Maintain competitive compensation

Compensation is a top reason for voluntary employee turnover, and many workers who changed jobs are seeing significant pay increases. Nearly a third (29 percent) of employees who left their organization during the pandemic are making over 30 percent more, and 20 percent received a 10 to 20 percent pay increase. 

Rapid wage growth is happening worldwide, and it’s wise to revisit your compensation strategy to ensure it’s competitive in the current talent market. 

Using a combination of compensation survey data and real-time feedback from employees and candidates can help you provide competitive pay. Your team members may be less likely to seek higher pay elsewhere. 

2. Provide a comprehensive benefits package

Three in four workers factor benefits into their decision about whether to stay or leave a job. And 88 percent of employees would consider taking a lower-paying job with better benefits over one that paid more but had worse benefits.

Offering a variety of benefits can help you appeal to the most people:

  • 66% of workers expect healthcare coverage
  • 49% expect a 401k program, and 40% expect 401k matching
  • 39% expect paid family leave
  • 32% expect remote work
  • 30% expect mental health resources

Other often sought-after benefits include paid time off, flex time, tuition reimbursement, and backup child and elder care.

3. Prioritize employee well-being

The COVID-19 pandemic has made many workers reevaluate their health and wellness, and they want to work somewhere that prioritizes their well-being. For example, 80 percent of  remote workers would consider leaving their current job for one that prioritizes mental well-being, and 42 percent of people have left a job because they felt burned out. 

Conversely, 80 percent of workers are more likely to stay with an employer that is committed to helping them strengthen their financial resiliency. 

There are many areas of well-being your employees may be thinking about:

  • 29% of employees rated financial wellness as their number one worry, including factors like overall compensation, retirement planning, and financial wellness programs
  • 24% rated mental and emotional well-being as their top struggle at work because they lack benefits like flexible scheduling, access to an Employee Assistance Program, and wellness coaching
  • 17% struggle the most with physical well-being due to factors like health insurance, workplace safety, and availability of exercise
  • 17% are most worried about social well-being related to company culture, work-life balance, and relationships at work and outside of work
  • 13% are most worried about career well-being, including access to learning and development, internal mobility opportunities, performance reviews, and access to coaching and mentoring

4. Extend opportunities for career development

Ninety-four percent of employees said they’d stay at a company longer if their employer invested in their careers. An effective learning and development program can help prevent employee turnover while enabling your team members to gain new skills.

Career development opportunities may include:

You may also use career development opportunities to set your team members up for success and support underperforming employees. This can level up your team and help you reduce involuntary turnover.

5. Help your team members achieve career growth

“No opportunities for advancement” is another top reason for employee turnover, but 75 percent of workers who receive promotions will stay with the company for at least three years. A lateral move can help reduce employee turnover too. In fact, changing a top performer’s responsibilities will improve the likelihood of retaining them by around 20 percent—even if their title and pay remain the same.

Sync with each of your team members to discuss their professional goals and highlight potential opportunities to advance within your organization. Then build a career path that connects with each employee’s development plan to help them achieve their goals.

Read more: How to Create Professional Development Goals That Work

6. Create a culture of recognition 

Team members are 56 percent less likely to be looking for a new job when their company makes employee recognition a priority—and does it genuinely and consistently. But 40 percent of professionals report receiving recognition a few times a year or less from a manager, supervisor, or other leaders at their organization.

Create a culture of employee recognition in which company leaders, managers, and team members freely praise one another for their contributions and achievements. This will help team members feel appreciated for their work, so they’re more likely to stay.

7. Optimize your hiring process for retention

Nearly a third of workers have left a job within the first 90 days of starting. When asked why, 41 percent said the day-to-day role was not as expected, and 34 percent said the company culture was not as expected.

It’s crucial to paint a clear picture of the job, team, and company during recruitment so you can deliver on your promises when people accept a job offer. Some candidates will self-select, but that’s better than losing them after they’ve been hired.

8. Start on the right foot with onboarding 

Seventy percent of workers with exceptional onboarding experience say they have “the best possible job.” These employees are also 2.6x more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace and more likely to stay. 

Build an onboarding program that helps each new hire feel welcome, acclimate to your company culture, and reach full productivity faster. For example:

  • Engage your new hires before their start date by sending them a welcome package with company SWAG
  • Facilitate key introductions to build relationships and help your new hire feel supported
  • Begin early learning and development to encourage upskilling and career growth
  • Check in with new employees frequently to ensure they’re settling in

9. Encourage work-life balance 

A study by Achievers found that poor work-life balance and being unable to work remotely are top reasons for employee turnover. They’re also intrinsically linked. Four in five people prioritizing remote work opportunities say they value the flexibility remote work affords and the opportunity for work-life integration.

Consider offering more flexible work options to improve work-life balance. These include:

  • Remote work: 74% of workers say that a remote work option would make them less likely to leave their employer
  • Condensed workweeks: Studies show that four-day work weeks offer greater flexibility and improved work-life balance
  • A flexible work schedule: 45% of workers quit their job because they didn’t have enough flexibility to choose when to put in hours

10. Build a company culture that people want to be a part of

Fifty-five percent of workers said they would leave a new job if the culture was not aligned with their expectations or values. In fact, many have. About one-third of employees have left a job within the first 90 days of starting, and 34 percent said it was because the company culture was not as expected. Poor company culture is also noted as a reason 21 percent of all workers left their job last year.

Build your company culture with intentionality and showcase it in your employer branding materials to attract the right talent. Then screen for values during your recruitment process to keep your team aligned and ensure that all business decisions are made with company values in mind.

11. Be intentional about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEI&B)

Twenty-three percent of employees feel a sense of belonging at work. For example, 26 percent of LGBTQIA+ workers worry that being open at work will cause them to be treated differently. Those fears are unfortunately a reality for many in this community, as 31 percent have faced blatant discrimination or microaggressions at work.

An intentional focus on DEI&B can help ensure your team members feel celebrated for their differences and valued for their unique contributions to your organization. This might include:

  • Committing to pay equity
  • Sponsoring Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
  • Providing inclusive company benefits

When all of your team members feel valued, supported, and connected at work, they will be more likely to stay.

12. Collect employee feedback

Reasons for turnover can vary widely by organization—or even within teams at your company. Collect and use employee feedback to inform your retention strategy and show your team members that their opinions matter. Great ways to do this include:

  • Employee satisfaction and engagement surveys: Send surveys regularly to gauge engagement, happiness, and job satisfaction, as well as to learn about your team members’ concerns
  • Stay interviews: Meet with each team member and ask exactly what it will take for them to be happy at your organization and stay long-term.
  • Exit interviews: Use an exit interview to find out why each departing employee is leaving so you can fix common issues before they drive more of your team members to quit.

13. Support and enable your managers

An exceptional manager can alleviate many of the common problems that lead to employee turnover. They can advocate for better compensation, help their team members grow professionally, and recognize people for their contributions. They can also directly impact who is hired and how they’re onboarded, promote well-being and work-life balance for their team members, and create an inclusive culture on their team. And most importantly, they can stay in constant communication with their team members to collect and act upon feedback that can help boost your retention efforts.

But your managers can only make a real impact if you support and enable them to do so. As Vince Lombardi famously said, “Leaders are made, they are not born.” Train your managers to help them reach their full leadership potential and enable them to take action to support employee retention.

Read More: Proven Strategies to Design Leadership Development Training That Works

14. Track HR metrics

Track key employee metrics that may precede turnover or help you identify patterns. For example:

  • Employee satisfaction, employee engagement, or Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS): Low satisfaction, engagement, or eNPS may indicate internal problems that could lead to turnover. Uncover and address these problems before team members start to leave your organization
  • Turnover rate: Track your overall employee turnover rate to identify any changes to your normal pattern and try to understand why they’re occurring. It can be particularly insightful to compare your turnover rate by location, department, manager, position, demographic, or remote work status. Double down on your retention strategies that appear to be working, and make a plan to address issues so you can reduce further turnover
  • Reasons for turnover: Record your voluntary and involuntary turnover rates and the specific reasons people are leaving so you can adjust your retention strategy accordingly

Measuring and tracking your HR metrics can provide valuable insight into how you can reduce employee turnover at your organization. 

15. Make a counteroffer

Counteroffers may be your final opportunity to prevent employee turnover when all else fails. Nine in 10 workers would accept a counteroffer if the terms were right:

  • 29% of workers said they’d stay if offered a promotion
  • 21% said they’d stay for a 30% or higher salary, and 21% would stay for a 21 to 30% raise
  • 20% would stay for flexible or different work location options

But beware: making a counteroffer to an employee with a foot out the door may simply delay their resignation—not prevent it entirely—if it’s seen as too little, too late. It can also create inequities among your team if the same terms aren’t offered to other employees. 

How a learning platform can help reduce employee turnover

Low compensation and lack of career advancement are the two biggest problems impacting employee turnover right now. A learning platform can help you solve both. Effective learning and development help your team members gain new skills to advance in their careers and earn higher salaries over time.  

It can also help you train and onboard new hires, enable your managers to learn key leadership skills, and level-up underperforming team members—all of which can boost retention.

Want to learn more about how WorkRamp can help you reduce employee turnover? Contact us to request a demo.

Complete the form for a custom demo.

Jen Dewar

WorkRamp Contributor

Jen Dewar is a marketing consultant in HR technology, focusing on developing educational content for HR professionals and recruiters. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion, lifelong learning and development, and treating people like people throughout candidate and employee experiences. Outside of work, you can find Jen snowboarding in Tahoe, enjoying a glass of wine in Sonoma, or hanging out at home with her family.

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