ATD Blog

3 Tips for Long-Term Employee Retention

Friday, October 8, 2021

You’ve scoured through applications, made it through the interview process, and hired the perfect candidate. They’re a standout in all the right areas. At this point, it’s easy to call it a day, but really, the job is barely half done. Long-term employee retention is one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of any high-impact workplace culture.

Eighty-seven percent of HR managers say retention is their primary priority. Most alarmingly, Work Institute finds that more than three in four employees who quit could have been retained. Unfortunately, these are errors that many teams make. And they can be costly.

Some estimates find that poor retention will cost organizations $430 billion annually by 2030. Higher retention rates, however, can increase profits by up to four times.

So, how can companies improve their retention processes? Here are three tips for long-term employee retention.

1. First Impressions Matter

As is so often the case in life, first impressions make a huge difference when it comes to employee turnover.

To demonstrate this, studies show that 20 percent of turnover happens within the first 45 days of working at a new company. Similarly, employees are 10 times more likely to leave a job in the first year than five years down the line. Further, research by Leftronic shows that nearly one-third (32 percent) of employees quit their jobs within the first three months due to unsatisfactory workplace culture.

As such, first impressions have a significant influence on an employee’s likelihood of remaining with a company long-term. So, what can organizations do to reverse this trend? Optimize their onboarding process.

Put simply, 69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for more than three years if they had a great onboarding experience. Additionally, organizations with a standardized onboarding process enjoy 50 percent greater productivity from new employees.


Even more notably, when an onboarding process involves digital learning, employee retention rates increase by 60 percent, on average. And that’s only the beginning of how L&D influences employee retention.

2. L&D Makes a Big Difference

As always, L&D makes a big difference when it comes to long-term employee retention. Consistent learning and development opportunities are among the most decisive factors in retaining employees. For instance, 94 percent of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their professional development.

Likewise, 86 percent of millennials would stay in their current positions if their employers offered better training and development. Finally, companies that provide professional development opportunities have 34 percent higher retention rates.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Emplify finds that 22 percent of employees leave their jobs to seek better professional development opportunities elsewhere. Perhaps most significantly, employee retention rates increase by 30 to 50 percent, on average, for companies with strong learning cultures.

The message is clear: employees crave robust and consistent learning and development opportunities and are willing to seek them out at a different company if necessary.


3. Focus on the Employee Experience

Companies must focus on the employee experience to improve their long-term retention. While this might sound obvious, it is a hurdle that a surprising number of teams fail to clear.

To put this advice into perspective, research by HR Experts shows that 50 percent of all turnover is due to employee burnout, while a staggering 95 percent of HR leaders admit employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention.

However, LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Trends report finds that when companies focus on the employee experience, 77 percent enjoy increased employee retention, and 71 percent experienced an increase in productivity.

To underscore these statistics, 67 percent of job seekers prioritize diversity and inclusion when seeking a new job, while companies that offer remote working arrangements have a 25 percent lower turnover rate. These factors all contribute to the overall employee experience.

Along these same lines, 79 percent of employees wouldn’t take a better-paying position in a company with questionable ethics (such as those not acting against sexual harassment, creating environmental problems, and paying female employees less), according to a survey by The Manifest.

The employee experience matters. If you want to improve your employee retention rates, then fostering positive employee experiences is an excellent place to start.

About the Author

Dom Murray is content coordinator for GO1, an established leader in online learning and education.

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