Employee Retention Toolbox

Posted on Posted in Employee Benefits, Employee Benefits Industry Updates, Employee Benefits Newsletters, Industry Updates, Newsletters

Are things changing in your workplace or your industry? Do you find it more challenging to retain employees during times of change? What can you do to maintain or improve employee retention rates?

Employee Retention ToolboxIndustry tides are always churning and that means human resources (HR) professionals are not trying to retain employees in a stable and constant state; rather in an ever-shifting climate. Human capital can provide a sustainable competitive advantage and much is invested in recruiting, hiring, training, and developing employees.1 In addition to the direct financial input, there is also the cost of employee turnover to organizational effectiveness and efficiency.

No seasoned HR professional needs to be convinced of the importance of employee retention. What HR professionals do want to know is:

What employee retention strategies and tactics can be implemented to keep employees?


  1. Work-life balance

Work-life balance is important across generations and genders, yet when it comes to those high-turnover millennials, work-life balance is identified as essential to workplace happiness by 89% of millennials.2 Millennials make up a large part of the workforce, ergo finding a way to keep them longer (and right now millennials are lasting just over two years compared to 4.4 years for other workers) may be no harder than finding ways to boost work-life balance.

When considering options for work-life balance, make sure your tactics are sustainable. Offering options then clawing them back when the economic or organizational climate shifts can have a more averse effect than never offering the options in the first place. Select work-life options that make sense for your organization in all sorts of stormy seas!

Work-Life Balance

These ideas may not all apply to your nonprofit organization. Conduct research (formal or informal) to better understand your employees and prospective employees and decide how to best attract and retain them with innovative work-life balance ideas (like the ideas listed above). Not every idea is the right idea for every organization, but finding the right idea for your nonprofit will make you a desired employer for top talent. Use these ideas or derivatives of them to create an environment and culture that will inspire work-life balance and employee retention. If you want help conducting a workforce evaluation, we can help. Contact us for more information on how you can conduct a complimentary in-depth workforce evaluation. 


Majority (1)      2. Comprehensive benefits

The majority of employees surveyed (58%) said benefits were an important retention driver. Generation Y (63%) and Generation X (62%) 7 place benefits as an even higher priority than average when asking themselves, in the words of The Clash, “Should I stay or should I go?” Care and consideration needs to go into selecting employee benefits that will work throughout the organization.

One strategy is to hire a specialized firm to help navigate the complex waters of employee benefits plans, like Solid Benefit Guidance (SBG). Specialized firms can help select the most appropriate provider, help in delivering and auditing your employee benefits, and keep you plugged in to the industry changes. Just like your industry and organization are changing, so is the world of employee benefits. Having a consultant who is an employee benefits expert at your disposal year round (and not just during open enrollment) will help you create a cost-effective and high-impact employee benefits solution that can keep those employee retention rates up!



      3. “Stay” Interviews to Help Control Employee Turnover Costs

Interviewing to find the right candidate is important but have you considered an interview to keep the right candidate? HR professionals know that exit interviews offer a wealth of organizational information that can fill in blind spots for the HR department, but many times exit interviews uncover something endlessly frustrating to an employee—to the point of departure! Yet if caught and curbed earlier could have made the difference between keeping and losing valuable human capital.

Since employee turnover costs as much as 150% of the annual salary for middle level employees and upwards of 400% of the annual salary for high level employees,8 making time for “stay” interviews is an easy and affordable way to reduce turnover and make employees feel valued.


       4. Clear employee communications

You have heard it a million times: communication is king. Of course, no HR professional would be surprised to find that employee communications are important. In fact, this is such a common refrain, people may skim over this tactic because this communication may seem “too obvious,” yet 66% of mid-size employers and 36% of large employers have no employee communications budget.9 Budgets are often allocated based on ROI but when there is a responsibility to distribute important information and that isn’t given a fair financial and time budget, shortcomings are bound to occur.


Employee benefits can be a significant factor in making an employee take and keep a job. Yet an overwhelming 40% of employees don’t understand their employee benefits.9 Resources like an employee benefits consultant working with your benefits administrator and HR team can make a big difference when it comes to communicating benefits and fielding complex questions. Ask us how SBG can help implement employee benefits in your organization with clarity and much less confusion for employees. Don’t let 40% of your employees not understand their benefits!

Additional employee communications like wellness newsletters and wellness challenges make employees feel their employer cares about their well-being and general health. Plus, these type of communications can offer tangible tips to have a healthier staff and workplace. Creating content for wellness initiatives can be a drain on resources, often already spread thin in non-profit organizations, so leveraging existing ready-to-use content is an asset that can be incorporated into your employee communication strategy without drawing on your employee communication budget. For more information on ready-made employee communications on topics like wellness that you can share with your employees, contact John Pfenning.


  1. R (1)Less ambiguity

The workload at non-profits can often create an “all hands on deck” attitude, which often leads to de-motivating role ambiguity (RA). Role ambiguity occurs when there is a lack of clarity in an employee’s performance objectives, goals, day-to-day tasks, and long-term responsibilities.

While sometimes it’s necessary for an accountant to temporarily take on mail room tasks like taping and sealing outgoing packages, especially in a small business or rapidly-growing organization; this can lead to problems, workplace stress, and eventually an employee’s decision to leave the organization.

Regularly evaluate employee tasks and workloads. Adapt job descriptions as necessary. Review job satisfaction with shifting responsibility. The priority is to create an efficient organization, so one employee doing double-duty may seem efficient at a glance, but slipping new tasks to an employee gradually isn’t a good long-term solution for employee retention. Clear expectations symmetrically communicated as changes occur can make a great difference with employee retention.


       6. Compensation

In addition to organization or industry changes, times of personal change can be the most difficult to retain employees. By identifying high-risk milestones for employee turnover and amplifying compensation at those key times, employee retention can drastically increase. For example, Facebook provides $4000 in “Baby Cash” to employees with a newborn.10 This type of compensation can be a major incentive for an employee considering leaving an organization during a personal life change.

What do millennials want

Inadequate compensation is cited by 28% of employees as their reason for leaving an organization11 but before rushing to bump up everyone’s salary, consider things valued above or in addition to compensation. When considering millennial employees, who now make up the largest segment of the American workforce at 80 million employees,12 it’s important to note how important flexibility is for these employees. In fact, 37% of millennials would take a pay cut if it meant flexibility in work location and hours.13

If a pay increase, baby bonus, or flextime, aren’t in the cards, consider communicating total compensation in a way that will make employees aware of their full compensation picture. Remember, according to The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 40% of employees don’t understand their employee benefits14 and since employee benefits contribute to overall compensation, better communicating employee benefits can create the sense of increased compensation. SBG can provide clients with “True Value Statements” that reflect all aspects of an employee’s compensation to aid in communicating a complete compensation picture.

Quick Tip: Consider a benefits fair as a method to aid employee understanding and more knowledgeable consumption of their complete compensation package.

     7. Voluntary benefits

Voluntary benefits have been shown to maximize employee productivity15 and productive, engaged employees are not only more likely to stay with an organization but are also the type of employees an organization wants to retain. Voluntary benefits include things like life insurance, vision, dental, disability, of course. However, those aren’t the only voluntary benefits: pet insurance, travel insurance, and many other unconventional voluntary benefits can also be tacked onto that list.

Retaining employees requires out-of-the-box thinking and if you want to stay on top of voluntary benefit options don’t rely on finding time between a to-do list and busting inbox—ask for help. Solid Benefit Guidance offers consulting advice on voluntary benefits and stays on top of opportunities, challenges, and trends so HR Departments can focus on other priorities.

     8. Employee engagement

Team-building is not limited to an expensive getaway, it could be something much more affordable and just as fun. Consider Evernote’s practice of hosting classes through “Evernote Academy,” which offers team-building courses like macaroon baking.16 (Team-building never tasted so good!)

Activities can boost employee engagement, but so can an active interest in employees. Think about “stay” interviews (See #3) and how these can reveal gaps in employee workplace satisfaction and the likelihood to stay with an organization. Perhaps an employee has role ambiguity or is suffering from a health condition and is worried about healthcare coverage with their employee benefits plan. By addressing employee concerns head-on, HR can inspire employee engagement and ultimately employee retention.

 If you have any questions, don’t be shy! Email John Pfenning, john_pfenning@ajg.com, for more information. 


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[1] Will They Stay or Will They Go? Exploring a Customer-Oriented Approach to Employee Retention by Robert Cardy and Mark Lengnick-Hall

Journal of Business and Psychology, Vol. 26, No. 2, Bridging the Gap Between the Science and Practice of Psychology in Organizations: State of the Practice Reflections (June 2011), pp. 213-217

[2] https://www.celayix.com/blog/12-employee-retention-facts-that-will-keep-you-up-at-night/

[3] Adobe – http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/slideshow/top-employer-benefits-2016#slide-5

[4] Burton – http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/slideshow/top-employer-benefits-2016#slide-13

[5] Airbnb – http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/slideshow/top-employer-benefits-2016#slide-16

[6] World Wildlife Fund – http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/slideshow/top-employer-benefits-2016#slide-17

[7] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/loyaltylow.aspx

[8] https://www.celayix.com/blog/12-employee-retention-facts-that-will-keep-you-up-at-night/

[9] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/dontunderstand.aspx

[10] http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/slideshow/top-employer-benefits-2016#slide-8

[11] https://www.celayix.com/blog/12-employee-retention-facts-that-will-keep-you-up-at-night/

[12] http://www.businessinsider.com/millennials-want-to-be-connected-to-their-coworkers-2013-6

[13] http://www.businessinsider.com/millennials-want-to-be-connected-to-their-coworkers-2013-6

[14] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/dontunderstand.aspx

[15] http://hrprofessionalsmagazine.com/implementing-voluntary-benefits-improves-retention/

[16] http://www.employeebenefitadviser.com/slideshow/top-employer-benefits-2016#slide-7

Note: Looking for more information on the statistics in the email that brought you here? Check out the 2016 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey