How Workplace Culture Affects Employee Retention

David Harper
January 10, 2024

This question may seem like an obvious one, but according to a recent survey from Glassdoor, only 15% of employees say they feel supported at work by their colleagues. That number drops when putting it into context: 22% of employees cited a lack of support as the number one reason for leaving their current company. 

That’s why it’s so important to take action on creating a company culture that supports top-notch employee retention and growth. While many companies focus on corporate gifts for employees or office decorum when choosing where to locate their next headquarters, what they aren’t considering are the more subtle changes that can be made at every level — from hiring practices down to how work gets done.

infographic showing different statistics about employee engagement including what percentage of employees report that they would work harder if they were recognized more

Statistics credit: Zippia

What does retention mean to you?

Retention is the process of keeping employees past their agreed-upon contract expiration date. It’s a crucial factor in business, so it’s important to understand what retention means to your company. Retention rates are higher in industries like marketing, business services, and financial services where the employment relationship is longer (e.g., more months or years). That’s why it’s important to have a strategy to ensure your retention rate remains high over time.

Why is employee retention so important?

If a company does not keep enough employees after their contract expires, it risks losing those employees through turnover. In this case, the overall efficiency of the business will suffer, as resources will be squandered by inefficiencies caused by too few employees.

The cost of replacing talented employees who are leaving their job because they are not happy at their current company goes far beyond simply the costs to replace that employee. The members on the team that remain after an employee leaves generally absorb the work duties of the former employee, leading to a lost productivity. It also leads to lost productivity from the leadership team because more time is spent onboarding, mentoring, and training the new employees, and less skilled work happening on the current team.

To keep your best talent, you need to be proactive. According to the experts, the best way to do that is to have a plan to retain them. Gifts for employee appreciation are one way, but it’s important to have a whole plan. Strategic retention is a crucial factor in business, so it’s important to understand what retention means to your company.

What are the different types of retention? How can you measure it and inspire confidence in your numbers? How can you drive growth and improve employee retention? 

five steps to improve company culture including identifying what your top talent wants out of their careers

How to retain top talent: 5 steps

Retention programs are all about making changes that will support long-term growth and retention. It doesn’t matter if you think you already have a positive corporate culture — a great retention strategy starts with the right steps. 

Here are five retention steps that will help your company improve employee retention: 

Define Your Audience - Retention programs must cater to employees who want to remain in your industry and job. If you have employees in finance who want to move to marketing when they’re older, you’re probably in trouble. 

Define your top talent by what they want out of their careers: marketability, advancement, annual salary, the ability to make a difference, the chance to influence. 

Define How You’ll Retain - Once you’ve determined where your top talent is aiming to go, it’s time to focus on how you’ll help them get there. Retaining top talent is all about giving your top talent a chance to achieve their full potential by developing their skills and addressing their needs. Retain programs enable employees to transition more easily from one role to another, so you can focus on growing your business. 

Invest in Great Company Culture - Whether it’s the way that you deal with potential issues, the level of transparency within your organization, or the ability to offer a fun work environment — great retention programs have everything. A great work environment that supports top-notch employee retention is the difference between retaining and losing good employees.

Identify Quick Non-Monetary Wins - The costs of turnover of employees are truly something to be considered, but, sometimes, current labor costs of scaling are a bigger priority than increasing salaries or giving employees big bonuses. In that case, quick, non-monetary wins can go a long way. Can you implement a flexible schedule? Can you reserve a specific parking spot for the employee of the month? Can you grant work from home privileges? All of these things can be extremely motivating and save on employee turnover costs without blowing up the bottom line.

Extraordinary employee retention is possible when leaders and HR leaders take an active role in creating an engaging, healthy, supportive, and positive workplace culture. Retention programs and employee appreciation gifts can be designed to address specific needs or challenges that employees may be facing, while still remaining genuine and focused on supporting long-term success.

The root of a good employee retention program

Even in the best company culture, retention programs are a great place to start. For employees who are happy in their jobs and want to stay, a retention program is a crucial tool to have at their disposal. 

But what if things aren’t going well? What if you have a high turnover rate, a difficult time retaining employees, or you have no strategy for keeping your best talent? 

Well, there’s an easy solution: changing and defining company culture. By making subtle changes that affect how employees work and interact with each other, you can foster an environment where retention rates are much higher than they otherwise would be. 

A positive culture is one that aligns with the values and mission of the organization, and one that promotes a sense of belonging, engagement, and purpose among employees. When employees feel valued, respected, and supported, they are more likely to be satisfied with their job and stay with the organization for a longer period of time.

Additionally, a good employee retention program should include clear communication and transparency about the company's goals and expectations, as well as clear career development opportunities. Employee development and growth opportunities, such as training programs, mentoring and coaching, and opportunities for advancement, help employees feel valued and invested in the organization.

A good employee retention program should also provide fair and competitive compensation and benefits, as well as a positive work-life balance. Employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and flexible work arrangements, help to attract and retain top talent.

Finally, a good employee retention program should include regular employee engagement and feedback mechanisms, such as employee surveys, focus groups, employee recognition gifts, and open-door policies. This allows employees to provide feedback and suggestions on how to improve the workplace culture and their job satisfaction, and allows management to address any issues that may arise.

Overall, a good employee retention program should be based on creating a positive and inclusive workplace culture, providing clear communication, career development opportunities, fair compensation, unique gifts for employees, benefits and work-life balance, and regular engagement and feedback mechanisms. By creating a supportive and positive work environment, organizations can attract and retain top talent, improve productivity and profitability and ultimately ensure long-term success.