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Employee retention is an important focus for your business, whether you’re a small startup or a big, established corporation. Keeping employees in their jobs and at your company means you spend less money on recruiting and training and build an organizational culture of strong connections.

Losing employees to turnover also means losing money, morale, and institutional knowledge. But employee retention is tough for even the best companies and leaders - so what really goes into keeping your employees staying in their jobs successfully?

Here are 8 sometimes surprising but helpful employee retention statistics so you know what it takes to delight and retains your valuable employees.

1. More than 50% of companies internationally have trouble with employee retention

Keeping employee retention rates high is a struggle for employers across the globe - so if you’re feeling like you could be doing better, you’re not alone. According to research by Willis Tower Watson, this is a challenge that nearly every business has in every corner of the world.

That’s partly because some employee turnover is normal - people leave their jobs because they’re moving, retiring, or they’re pursuing dreams of working in another industry or going back to school. It’s not possible or healthy to have a 100% employee retention rate.

But it’s not just the number of employees who leave that can have an impact on an organization - it’s also the kind of employees who are leaving. Many companies are increasingly having trouble retaining their most valuable employees—those rockstars and super-producers who keep your company running at its highest level of quality and productivity.

These employees have plenty of potential to succeed elsewhere with their skills, so if they’re feeling taken advantage of or burned out, they might jump at the next tempting job offer that comes their way. And that’s a huge loss for your business.

2. 49% of employees who intend to leave their full-time job in the next 5 years would remain longer with their employer if they received a higher salary.

Employees stay and thrive at their jobs for a whole variety of reasons - company and employee culture, connections with their peers and managers, the commute, the perks, the status, and their career potential.

But we all truly come to work for one reason: to get paid for the job we’re doing. If you’re not compensating employees adequately, half of them might leave despite all other attempts to retain them.

After all, they need to provide for themselves - that’s why they have a job. The cost of living goes up each year, and your company might not be keeping up with that in regular raises.

And if they are getting better offers elsewhere, it can be tempting to make the jump to another position so they can afford to live their lives. Don’t discount the importance of compensation when looking at retention.

3. 77% of employees list relationships with coworkers as their primary driver of engagement on the job.

Relations between employees and their direct supervisors are significant because bosses have a substantial impact on the day-to-day working life of their direct reports.

A bad manager can lead to high levels of dissatisfaction among their staff. But when you’re looking at employee happiness, their peers and colleagues have a stronger impact than bosses.

Creating an environment where people have a strong connection and rapport with others simultaneously means everyone enjoys coming to work more and feels supported during good and bad times.

Creating these connections can be trickier with the increasing shift to remote work. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try - with Slack channels, Zoom happy hours, or other creative solutions. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition can also build these connections and a culture of gratitude and collaboration.

4. 87% of employees expect their employers to help them balance work and life.

‍Even when employees love their jobs, they don’t want to feel like that’s where they spend almost all of their time. Work-life balance is important for maintaining high levels of productivity and reducing burnout and demotivation. And it’s also critical for retention.

Employees who feel like their lives are consumed with work are more likely to search for a new position at a company that allows for greater balance. And they expect their employers to help them find work-life balance - which is reasonable since usually, it’s damaging expectations or an employee culture issue that’s causing the lack of balance in the first place.

Employers that encourage their staff to take real-time off regularly have happier, more productive employees - and those employees are much more likely to stick around.

Suppose your company culture encourages forgoing vacation days, answering email at all hours of the night, being constantly available, and coming into work even when employees are sick. In that case, you’re on the road to burning out your employees.

And since these expectations tend to fall more heavily on the top performers in your business, you’re hurting the people you value the most. Pushing productivity to the max can seem effective in the short term, but you’re decreasing productivity and retention over the long haul.

5. 79% of employees who leave their jobs say lack of recognition was one of the main reasons.

Recognizing employees for a job well done seems simple - but so many companies aren’t doing it nearly enough. And employees have noticed. When they don’t feel their hard work, high-quality output, and excellent productivity are noticed, that’s frustrating. That frustration has a big impact on employee retention rates.

Feeling unappreciated is a major reason employees are job-hunting. (Combine that lack of recognition with a lack of adequate compensation, and there’s no way your top performers are sticking around long.)

Recognition is a vital and often underlooked factor in retention rates. Employees might enjoy their jobs, but they will be dissatisfied if they don’t feel noticed for performing well.

After all, what’s the point in going above and beyond to perform for your company if you never get thanked, or even noticed, by the company for doing so?

6. High employee engagement rates mean your employees are 87% less likely to leave their jobs.

Employee engagement rates are getting a lot of notice these days and for a good reason. High engagement rates among your employees mean they are much less likely to be looking for other opportunities.

Engagement means employees feel connected to their jobs and the people around them and connected to the purpose and mission of your organization. They know why they’re doing what they do every day, and they know what goals they’re working towards. Work feels purposeful, not like busy work or meaningless tasks.

If that sounds powerful - it is. None of us likes to think of ourselves as cogs in a big machine, even if we work at a huge corporation. We want to feel ownership and purpose in our work. So when your employees are highly engaged, they are significantly more likely to stay.

7. 93% of employees would stay at their jobs longer if employers invested in their careers.

That's right. Career development and continued learning are critical to retaining employees. (Source: LinkedIn)

Too often, employers are loathed to invest significantly in employee development because they fear employees will just use this training to get a higher-paying job somewhere else.

But employees want to feel valued by their employers - and career development and training are among the most important ways to show your investment in them. This doesn't mean you need to accelerate promotions too fast or create a massive budget for training.

But it doesn't mean you need to be thoughtful about how you're helping employees develop new skills and reach new goals - or you're much more likely to lose them.

8. The cost to replace a high-performing employee can be up to 200% of their salary.

We’ve talked before about the true costs of employee turnover - it’s high. It’s even higher when talking about those high-performing employees who provide huge value to your organization.

Employee retention efforts can sound incredibly expensive or time-consuming for your organization, and you might wonder if it’s all worth it. But the cost to replace your MVPs (most valuable people) can be up to double their salary - so the question becomes, can you afford not to focus on the importance of employee retention?

Key takeaways

If there’s one thing to be learned from looking at all the current employee retention facts, it’s this - anticipating what employees value can help them stay in their jobs happily, which helps your business thrive. And increasing employee retention rates can save your business serious money.

If you’re looking for an easy, effective way to recognize and reward employees and increase employee engagement, you’re on the right track to increasing retention.

Unlock the Biggest Secret of Engagement to Retain your Top Performers.
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Kathleen O'Donnell

Kathleen O'Donnell LinkedIn

Kathleen is a freelance writer and employee communications and culture expert, with 6+ years of experience in corporate internal communications.