Four Steps to Improve Employee Retention

January 10, 2018


Retention continues to be a challenge in today’s workforce. Some have adopted the YOLO, you only live once, mentality and have observed others in the workplace who have been required to work longer and harder for stagnant wages. Workers are expected to stay connected and to be productive and committed. In exchange for this, work-life balance, flexibility, and other changes in culture and leadership have been adopted to offset turnover. Doubts remain about long-term employment loyalty. Here are four easy steps to improve retention.



The first day of an employee’s arrival should be met with the signals of organization and excitement. Ensure a business card has been ordered and placed on the employee’s desk along with desk supplies. Be certain a team member greets the new arrival and makes introductions. There should, as a part of the introductions, be a member of the executive team available for at least a five-minute exchange. Schedule a facility tour and a lunch with other team members, even if it means ordering in pizza. Something simple goes a long way in creating an affiliation to the department, team, and organization. It evidences recognition and excitement and that the recruitment process was not just an exercise in filling a vacant slot. Now it is recruiting the loyalty, commitment, sacrifice, volunteerism, innovation, and longevity of the new hire.



On the second day, as the responsibilities begin to set in, have a designated person available to help get used to processes, nuances and culture. New employees often feel lost when it comes to the simple expectations. Taking the guesswork out of how processes increases work efficiency. Other expectations are important to communicate. I have a friend who often left her shoes at her desk when she would walk to the copy machine. She felt a sense of rumbling in the background but did not know what it was until one day a colleague pulled her aside. She told her it wasn’t culturally acceptable to walk barefooted in the office and that it detracted from her otherwise stellar performance. She was mortified because this had not been communicated. Other expectations, locations, and simple familiarities are important to overcome to ensure a smooth transition. Keep in mind the overall goal is to keep new hires connected and committed.  



In order to stabilize a workforce opportunities need to be presented. This is the time to carefully cultivate people and to outline several key factors. The first is to show them meaning, or why they fit in the organization and how their role contributes to the goals of the institution. This places a person in context to the organization as a whole. Second, a clear plan articulating the purpose of their position and the value that comes from their contributions. This should be undergirded with a commitment to professional development, which leads to mentoring.



Study after study evidences the importance of mentoring. It can be formal or informal mentoring. This type of mentoring takes on a long-term view of developing employees to create lasting behavioral actions and attitudes toward employment loyalty. A plan for professional development should be incorporated and followed with regular accountability sessions. Support, guidance, and knowledge at a higher level are critical to the long-term success of mentoring. Goals of mentoring should include short-term objectives that have high probabilities of success. This creates momentum that keeps all parties on track and interested in moving forward with an end goal of moving people from employees to mentors themselves. In the meantime, personal and corporate development takes place and retention increases exponentially.


Using the four steps of Welcome, Help, Stabilize, and Mentor will dramatically improve retention rates along with contribution, productivity, and loyalty. When a Mentor is placed with new employees it helps to smooth the transition, encourages contribution, and takes the guesswork out of cultural issues, reporting lines and other expectations thereby increasing employee efficiencies. Lastly, mentoring exponentially increases retention.


Larry Friis, MBA, LNHA is the Principal of High-touch Leadership, an advisory services firm. He has served on the Board of Directors of two financial institutions and is a professional speaker, a Doctoral Candidate, and an Adjunct Professor. Larry can be reached at

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