In today’s skills-short market, it might seem that securing talent is the biggest battle for successful companies. But keeping them is just as important.

The reality is, with so many job opportunities becoming available and luring away employees, retention difficulty has become more common in Australia – especially for larger businesses. The proportion of these employers who had difficulty retaining staff increased from 26% in 2021 to 38% in 2022.

Aside from the obvious cost of replacement, staff turnover leads to a loss of company knowledge, a disrupted culture, and the risk of a negative company reputation.

Understanding what encourages employees to stay with a company and assessing your employee experience will keep your team engaged, motivated, and productive.

Read on for our top strategies for retaining good staff.

But remember, communication is the key here. Check in and find out what your team needs and how you can effectively deliver it.

1. Flexibility

Companies that don’t offer enough employee flexibility are not only losing valuable talent but struggling to replace the vacant roles.

Since flexibility is subjective, there’s no one-size-fits-all model to suit everyone’s personal and professional lives. Instead, adopt a tailored approach that meets your employees’ differing time management needs.

For example:

  • Do parents feel comfortable signing off for school pick-up?
  • Do people have the autonomy to sign on late if they worked late the day before?

How can you support flexibility in your workplace?

  • Discuss flexibility options with candidates during the hiring process.
  • Ensure the flexibility you offer employees is grounded in established company expectations and well-promoted.
  • Offer employees more autonomy over their work location and schedule.

2. Relationships with colleagues

Your employees spend around a third of their lives at work. So, it follows that good relationships with managers and co-workers will make their jobs more enjoyable.

It’s said that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.

On the other hand, positive and trusting work relationships can lead to higher productivity, better customer engagement, and increased profit.

How can you support positive relationships in your workplace?

Consider the following elements:

  • How do you support collaboration?
  • How do you create visibility across schedules and opportunities for social interaction?
  • Do you foster good relationships with your direct reports by encouraging open and effective communication?
  • Has a new decentralised workforce disrupted pre-pandemic comradery? If so, have you adapted your approach?

3. Competitive salary

Offering a competitive salary – one that’s equal to or above the standard for similar jobs – will always be one of the best ways to both attract and retain the best talent.

It also shows your employees you value their skills and contributions, which builds a positive culture and fosters a productive and committed team.

However, with the market shifting quickly, employers should be benchmarking salaries regularly.

How can you maintain competitive salaries in your workplace?

  • Stay up-to-date with online Australian salary guides and surveys.
  • Adjust existing employee pay rates to be on par with what new hires are offered.
  • It’s not always just the dollars – great employee benefits play a part too.

Related: Wondering how your workplace salaries compare? Check out our Australian Salary Guide.

4. Job content

Employees are more likely to stay with a company if they believe their work has purpose and their efforts are recognised and appreciated.

Since overall job satisfaction is a result of many motivating factors – including achievement, responsibility, and growth – employees need to feel that their work is both meaningful and challenging.

How can you support satisfying job content in your workplace?

  • Give employees exposure to new challenges, responsibilities, and opportunities.
  • Encourage ownership by allowing employees to influence and contribute to team projects.
  • Offer continual training and development opportunities.

5. Company culture

Unsurprisingly, employees stay in companies that nurture a positive culture. Because leaving can feel like they’re giving up something special.

A healthy company culture is one that’s free from drama, empowering, and respectful. It drives employees to be more engaged and motivated, with the entire company working together towards a common goal.

How can you support a positive culture in your workplace?

  • Adopt organisational core values that underpin a healthy workplace culture.
  • Foster collaboration with leadership that encourages teamwork, inclusivity, and open communication.
  • Create clear goals and rewards for all employees.

6. Career growth

Offering ongoing learning opportunities for employees lets them know they’re worth investing in. And when employees feel like they’re a priority, they have little interest in seeking out recruitment offers.

A commitment to growth and development shows that an employer takes notice and cares about the career progression of their staff. Plus, having regular discussions about the pathway of someone’s career can establish rapport and loyalty with the employee.

How can you support career growth in your workplace?

  • Provide continual paid training and development opportunities.
  • Form a mentorship program for new hires and trainee positions.

The bottom line about employee retention

When considering why employees stay with a company, it’s best to assume everyone is a flight risk. Remember, an external offer becomes more compelling if an employee doesn’t feel recognised or rewarded by your company.

And since people see negotiating with a current employer as confrontational, they’ll avoid it without the safety net of a competing offer.

So, start the conversation early. Ask your employees about their needs now – before they begin looking elsewhere.

If you’d like more expert advice about workplace and team management, why not check out our hiring and management articles.