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Updated Jan 19, 2024

10 Ways to Attract and Retain the Best Employees

Use these 10 strategies to attract and retain skilled workers.

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Skye Schooley, Business Operations Insider and Senior Lead Analyst
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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Every business wants to attract and retain the best employees, but this is often easier said than done. A 90% retention rate and a 10% turnover rate are considered “good,” but a 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics report found an average annual turnover rate closer to 57%. This means that the fight for talent is tougher than ever before.

Simply offering a large salary isn’t enough anymore. Job seekers want to work for inclusive organizations that offer great salaries and benefits, inclusive company cultures and ample career development opportunities. They also prioritize companies that align with their goals and values. Employers should keep this in mind as they think about which strategies they can use to not only attract the best workers, but also keep them long term.

Although your recruitment and retention strategy will be unique to your business, here are 10 ways you can attract and retain skilled workers.

1. Write good job descriptions.

The first step to attracting skilled workers who match your needs is writing a good job description. A well-written job description can make a big difference in finding qualified candidates.

  • Content: A job description is much more than a simple list of employee responsibilities; it is often one of the first impressions a job seeker has of your organization. As such, an effective job description should not only include skills, tasks, expectations and role requirements, but also give the reader a feel for your company culture. According to SHRM, 4 out of 5 job seekers find salary to be the most important aspect of a job posting, followed by the benefits package. As such, it can be beneficial to include this information as well.
  • Tone: The way you write your job descriptions should match your company and brand. For example, if you have a lighthearted, goofy company culture, consider using words that convey the silly nature of your workplace. However, steer clear of words such as “guru,” “ninja” and “wizard.” The Skynova study found that many job seekers respond negatively to these terms.
  • Format: Format your job descriptions in a way that is easy to read. Use headers and bullet points when writing out details like requirements and responsibilities, as this will make the job description easier to scan. You will also want to include a clear call to action so that applicants know how to apply.

2. Be intentional with your hiring process.

According to a survey by BambooHR, 31% of workers leave a job within the first six months, and 68% of those depart within the first three months. A strategic recruitment and onboarding process can reduce these high turnover rates by helping new employees feel connected to their roles.

Employee recruitment

Find out which websites and job boards most align with your organization and the employees you are looking for. Asking employees for referrals is also a great strategy for finding reliable talent. You can use recruitment software or applicant tracking systems to manage your talent pipeline from start to finish.

Employee interviews

When hiring new employees, it helps to have a recruitment process that is uniform and consistent across the board. Train your HR and hiring managers on how to conduct effective employee interviews, including which types of questions they can and can’t ask. This will make your hiring process more productive and equitable.

Employee onboarding

Your hiring responsibilities don’t stop when you offer an applicant the job and they accept. You will also need a comprehensive onboarding process that reviews all required paperwork, welcomes and trains the new employee, and quickly integrates them into your team.

3. Offer competitive compensation.

Although it’s not the only thing that matters to employees, a competitive salary is still top of mind when job seekers look for a new job. If you want to hire skilled workers, you must be prepared to pay them what they are worth. Start by reviewing the industry average for employee salaries. You can also use salary benchmarks based on location, role and experience.

Pay isn’t the only way to compensate employees for a job well done. Consider other forms of compensation, such as employee retirement plans, bonuses, paid time off and stock options. Offering a diverse combination of compensation can make a job offer more attractive.

A competitive compensation plan is not a "set it and forget it" type of deal. To stay competitive with employee compensation, review your employees' wages at least once a year for inflation-based and performance-based raises.

4. Build a comprehensive employee benefits package.

Although you are legally obligated to offer only a few employee benefits (e.g., family and medical leave, health insurance, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation, as well as FICA contributions that fund public benefits like Social Security and Medicare), creating a comprehensive benefits package is essential to attracting the best employees. Employee benefits are a great way to improve your employees’ health, well-being, job satisfaction and productivity.

The most popular employee benefits fall into five categories: health and wellness, financial well-being, work-life balance, professional development, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Create a benefits package that offers some combination of these elements.

5. Provide employee development opportunities.

A Work Institute survey found that a lack of career development opportunities is the biggest reason why employees quit their jobs. If you want to retain your most valued employees, you must provide them with a clear path to future development. Each employee should have their own career development plan that is unique to their strengths and interests.

Here are a few ways you can foster career development:

  • Identify clear goals to work toward. Have your employees clearly identify their career goals and then come up with a development plan to achieve them. Periodically measure employee success to see if they are progressing toward their goals or if they need assistance.
  • Offer training courses. Offer in-person or online training opportunities for employees to learn and build their career knowledge.
  • Create a mentorship program. Identify less experienced employees who show potential, and pair them with mentors who can help guide their careers with the company.
  • Offer stretch assignments. Provide internal staff with challenging projects just beyond their comfort zone. It will expand their skill sets and build their confidence.
  • Promote from within. Although you won’t always find the right candidate for a senior role from your current pool of employees, consider hiring from within when a position becomes available. If you know you will need to fill a position in the future and it aligns with one of your employee’s development goals, create a cross-training program that will enable them to earn that spot.

6. Recognize your employees.

Make your employees feel appreciated and valued. You can do this by creating an employee recognition program. Although your recognition program should be fair and equitable to all employees, it’s important to note that not all employees want to be recognized in the same way. Therefore, you should be strategic about how you create your program.

One way you can create an employee recognition plan that is unique and meaningful to each employee is to use a points system. For example, employees can earn points for their achievements and then spend them on the rewards they value most (e.g., gift cards, company swag, experiences). You can also survey your employees to learn which incentives are most engaging to them.

7. Prioritize company culture.

Company culture can impact employee job satisfaction in a big way. Many people want to work for an inclusive workplace that values and celebrates staff diversity. This all starts at the hiring process. Be intentional about whom you hire. Your company leadership also plays a huge role, as company culture usually flows from the top of the organization. For example, if your team leaders constantly show up late to meetings and talk negatively about staff members, other employees will also think it is okay to treat people this way in the workplace.

To educate your staff on diversity and inclusion, create a diversity and inclusion training program. This will help employees understand what is and isn't acceptable.

8. Monitor employee engagement and burnout.

One key to retention is employee engagement. High employee engagement can reduce employee turnover and absenteeism, as well as increase productivity and company morale. You can improve employee engagement by encouraging open communication and feedback, among many of the other tips mentioned in this article.

In addition to keeping employees engaged, you want to ensure they are not experiencing workplace burnout. Your best employees can often be saddled with the most work, which can quickly result in fatigue, negativity and reduced productivity. Bring in skilled temporary professionals to relieve overburdened staff and support resource-intensive projects.

9. Communicate your company mission and vision.

Another way you can attract and retain employees is to clearly communicate your company mission and vision statement. These are the goals and values of your organization. People want to work for an organization that they identify with. They want to know that the organization is acting in a way that they trust and support. Not everyone will click with your mission and values, and that’s okay. That’s why you want to clearly communicate these from the start, so you can build an organization filled with people that truly support your purpose.

10. Train your management staff.

It is important that your company leaders are properly trained on how to successfully manage their teams, as good managers can have a big impact on employee retention. In fact, Gallup found that 52% of departing employees claim their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from resigning.

Perhaps these managers were thrown into the fire without the proper tools. In a study by Udemy, 60% of respondents think that managers need more training, and 56% of respondents think that people are promoted too quickly. Effective leadership training programs can help your team build their leadership skills and better manage employees, resulting in a higher employee retention rate.

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Skye Schooley, Business Operations Insider and Senior Lead Analyst
Skye Schooley is a business expert with a passion for all things human resources and digital marketing. She's spent 10 years working with clients on employee recruitment and customer acquisition, ensuring companies and small business owners are equipped with the information they need to find the right talent and market their services. In recent years, Schooley has largely focused on analyzing HR software products and other human resources solutions to lead businesses to the right tools for managing personnel responsibilities and maintaining strong company cultures. Schooley, who holds a degree in business communications, excels at breaking down complex topics into reader-friendly guides and enjoys interviewing business consultants for new insights. Her work has appeared in a variety of formats, including long-form videos, YouTube Shorts and newsletter segments.
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