How to Boost Employee Retention
Sarah Brodsky / JUNE 02 2021

Employee turnover is costly for companies. Evaluating candidates and training a new hire take time and money, and it’s disruptive for team members when their colleagues quit.

But employers don’t have to just accept high turnover rates. Companies that invest in their workforce will likely see their efforts pay off in better employee satisfaction and increased retention. 

Here are some techniques to promote workforce engagement and loyalty.

Peer support

Providing spaces in which employees can support each other may help some people feel more connected to their colleagues and more integrated into their workplaces, particularly if they come from marginalized communities or underrepresented backgrounds. Groups based on shared identities can foster a sense of belonging and prevent employees from feeling like they’re the “odd one out” at work.

Hilton’s Team Member Resource Groups are a great example of peer support in action. Employees at both owned and managed properties can join groups for African American team members, team members with disabilities, women team members, LGBTQ team members, and allies, and Hispanic/Latino team members, among others. In addition to participating in service projects and career development activities, group members have opportunities to share their perspectives with Hilton executives so that their viewpoints are represented in leadership decisions.

Competitive pay

This one is a no-brainer: Employees who realize they’re being underpaid compared to their peers at other companies are going to be eager to move on. Pay is especially important for retaining workers in big cities and major tourist hotspots because these locations often have multiple hotels and restaurants that can hire talent away from their rivals.

Attractive benefits

Offering valuable benefits shows employees that they’re valued and encourages them to stay with a company long-term. It’s usual for major employers to offer extensive arrays of benefits, far beyond the basics of health insurance and a retirement plan. For example, Hyatt’s employee benefits include some free hotel stays, medical services, short-term disability, paid parental leave, and financial assistance for adoption. Among other perks, Best Western offers life insurance, an employee assistance plan, and discounts on car rentals, cell phones, and other products and services.

Opportunities to learn

Ongoing support for developing skills can make a job more appealing to employees and might even tip the scales in favor of staying with their employer. Online learning, mentorship programs, and tuition reimbursement are just a few tools companies can use to ensure employees are engaged and challenged.

Opportunities for promotion

If employees feel like their current job is a dead end, they’ll probably start looking for a better position elsewhere. Most employers are aware of this and try to find ways to help their best workers move up through the ranks. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, 80 percent of minimum wage earners in hotels become eligible to advance within a year. And some employers, such as Marriott, speak in terms of career “paths” in their messaging to job seekers. This emphasizes the fact that employees can grow and take on new responsibilities over the course of their tenure with the company.

Recognition programs

Initiatives that recognize outstanding employees can give people a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. Recognizing exceptional contributions to a company is a good way to show respect for team members and remind them that the organization can’t thrive without their help. 

Recognition programs can take many forms, such as spotlighting employees on social media or in company publications, awarding certificates or prizes, or holding receptions with executives. Companies may also choose to recognize specific teams, or they might celebrate entire departments at designated times of the year.

Commitment to values

People are often more enthusiastic about working for an employer that’s making the world a better place. Employee retention isn’t necessarily the main aim of companies’ social responsibility initiatives, but it can be a positive side effect if workers believe their employers are taking their concerns seriously and making a difference. 

For example, Accor’s Planet 21 initiative includes efforts to decrease food waste, source food locally, and buy free-range eggs. Drury Hotels has earned LEED certification for several green buildings that conserve energy and water, and its properties have policies in place to encourage sustainable forms of transportation like bicycles and electric vehicles.