It’s no secret that employee retention is one of the primary challenges for business leaders across all sectors, departments and positions this year.

We recently gathered the human capital leaders from our portfolio companies to address employee retention ideas in real time. They shared their own best practices along with some of the tools they use to identify risk and help predict turnover early on. Here’s a look at what’s working as part of their employee retention strategies today.

1. Keep a pulse on employee engagement and attitude through surveys

LLR’s portfolio companies have taken different approaches with employee surveys but have largely found success with them as a way to monitor engagement and attitudes, and to identify retention risk in its early stages. Pulse survey platforms like Office Vibe, for example, get a weekly read from employees and only require about two minutes of their time.

Quantum Workplace (an LLR portfolio company) takes the concept to a deeper level, offering more comprehensive engagement surveys as well as lifecycle surveys that dig into key moments in each employee’s journey with your company. They can be applied as early as 30 days after a new hire is onboarded and continue all the way to their exit, with automated check-ins at important milestones.

For companies that don’t need feedback as regularly, many employ an opt-in approach using Survey Monkey or similar platforms. They host the link on an intranet, SharePoint site, and/or include it in weekly internal emails so employees can share feedback at their discretion.

Perhaps the most critical step, though, is not stopping at baseline data collection and rather connecting engagement with organizational performance outcomes and retention metrics that are most valued by the organization. Shane McFeely, Lead Researcher at Quantum Workplace, shared more on The Relationship Between Employee Engagement and Organizational Performance in a GrowthBit earlier this year.

Depending on the company and its culture, others have found employees more receptive to one-on-one conversations with company leadership, giving them the opportunity to not only share their experiences but also be part of a dialogue on what keeps them engaged and working at the company. Skip-level interviews are effective at fostering conversations between a senior leader and an employee, allowing the employee to open up about their relationship with their manager to provide position feedback or constructive criticism. Our HR leaders shared the successes they’ve had with skip-level interviews from informing managers on areas to improve communication to promoting collaboration across teams and departments.

Recognize that the difference between staying with or leaving could be as simple as feeling appreciated and valued on a regular basis – especially as you grow.

2. Ensure incentives and recognition remain prevalent as you scale

M&A activity and increased hiring during the pandemic have driven up employee counts and led to more people working virtually from all over the world. However, our companies are noticing increased concern among employees about the perks and benefits they used to receive when their companies were smaller. While it is important to embrace growth, our HR leaders also stressed the importance of assessing the impact of change and scale on these matters, and ensuring longtime, loyal employees feel as valued as their newer colleagues.

Recognizing that the difference between staying with or leaving a company could be as simple as feeling appreciated and valued on a regular basis, our HR leaders are using programs like Gift a Gram and Wishlist to provide gift cards and other monetary incentives to their employees for jobs well done.

Some companies have taken this idea to a more personal level, including written notes and “kudos” with a relevant gift card, which they find go a long way. Finally, as companies transition back to in-person events, keeping the company social calendar full of service opportunities, sports games and wellness days is helping employees feel valued and form stronger connections with peers.

3. Expand the 9-Box Talent Review to cover flight risk

Many human capital leaders are familiar with the 9-box talent review as a tool used to assess employee performance and leadership potential. Some of our leaders thought creatively this year and expanded the typical 3×3 grid to a 4×4 matrix that layers flight risk on top of performance and potential. It eliminates the extra step of a separate retention risk tool or exercise and enables managers to look at their talent with a broader lens.

Companies are taking a more proactive hiring approach by seeking out candidates rather than waiting for them to knock and then run away.

4. Actively recruit talent to elude the ghosts

On top of dealing with a competitive job market, HR leaders have also been plagued with seemingly engaged candidates “ghosting” after an offer is extended (i.e., no response from the candidate and they “disappear”) and new hires leaving after just days on the job.

With this uncertainty around job offer acceptance and new hire retention, companies are taking a more proactive hiring approach by seeking out candidates rather than waiting for them to knock and then run away. One of our HR leaders shared that they have found success on Indeed Resume where about 40% of their hiring right now begins. The platform allows them to enter keywords that pertain to their business and hiring needs, so that resumes can be autogenerated to fit the criteria. From there, candidates can be proactively recruited in and engaged better than the passersby.

5. Keep in touch with top talent that moves on

While seeing some of their own new hires leave after a very short period of time, companies are similarly witnessing recent, longer-term employees who leave in search of a different experience asking to return after three to six months because they didn’t find what they were looking for.

The decision of whether to hire someone back is complex and it’s worth pausing to think carefully about the specific role, whether the individual was a consistent, top performer in the past, the length of time since their exit, and what has changed since then. If reluctant to bring former employees back, an alternative way to gain value from this unique situation is to ask top performers who leave for referrals from their network that might be a good fit for roles at their company.

Time and again, we hear that high employee retention and productivity can be attributed to flexibility.

6. “Preach employee flexibility” where you can

Time and again, we hear that high employee retention and productivity can be attributed to flexibility. Katelyn Matthews, Director of HR at Relay Network, stressed that “we have been preaching employee flexibility… not mandates back to work, not ‘you have to be in the office.’ It’s all about doing what works for your lifestyle and what’s best for you.”

For companies in areas like healthcare services, where time and location are more fixed, consider a creative spin on flexibility like dress-down days, which our portfolio companies have seen make a meaningful impact on their clinical staff’s happiness.

Here’s the bottom line.

In many ways, addressing employee retention during this talent crunch is about going back to basics. Caitlin Cocchi, Head of HR at 3SI Security Systems, said it well in our discussion: “What are people’s commutes like? Is how they get to the office adding stress and impacting them being able to do their job? When was their last pay raise? Are they using their time off and is burnout becoming an issue?”

Tracking employee engagement and flight risk, thinking creatively about how to make surveys, interviews, and the resulting data meaningful for their environment, and uncovering what really matters to their employees has helped our HR leaders get ahead of attrition and find impactful ways to retain their top talent.

This GrowthBit is featured in LLR’s 2023 Growth Guide, along with other exclusive insights from our portfolio company leaders and Value Creation Team. Download the eBook here.