Workplace & culture

10 Ways to Proactively Improve Employee Retention

Why do employees leave jobs and what can organizations do to keep them? Let's talk employee retention and how HR can proactively improve it.

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We all know that employee retention is a key part of HR and a key component of growing and managing your business. But if an employee chooses to leave, is there anything that could have been done?

While we cannot make the choice for them, we can make their choice to stay easier. According to Indeed, there are 10 major reasons for employees leaving a job. Let’s explore those reasons and how you can improve employee retention by proactively addressing the root of each of these issues.

Top Reasons People Leave Their Jobs (and How to Keep Them)

The company restructured

It could be new ownership or new management, perhaps a merger. Maybe the company is downsizing or growing and needs an organizational overhaul. Whatever the reason, include employees in transition discussions that involve them, whenever possible. If their roles are going to change as a result, ensuring they are given a heads up and feel supported can make all the difference. Employees will be much happier and less likely to leave if they feel they are being heard and that their opinion matters. 

No room to grow

Opportunities for growth within your organization can ensure employees stick around and reach their full potential. We cannot control the momentum of our employees’ lives but we can control how valued they feel in the workplace. In order to identify growth and development goals, use performance management tools that can help you with goal-setting and giving feedback. This can help you track growth, identify skill sets, and provide you the opportunity to have conversations about development. Growth doesn’t have to be drastic to be effective. Your employees may feel their value and skills increasing with proper goal-setting and the opportunity to create a development plan. 

More money

Sometimes, this is beyond our control. Truly, we cannot all afford to match salary offers. However, a job is more than just monetary compensation (although that’s obviously important). Professional development opportunities, paid time-off, benefits and other factors can really influence a decision to stay with a company.

For example, an employee who is a single parent raising young children may value flexible hours so they can work from home when their children are sick or leave work in the afternoon to pick their kids up from school. Those perks and benefits may outweigh a higher salary with more restrictive work hours.

The workplace is a toxic environment

Let’s imagine an employee has received a job offer elsewhere. You have matched their offer for a pay raise and yet they still choose to leave. You are confused since you know your benefits and incentives are above industry-standard. Is it something in the work culture, itself, that makes your organization less attractive to employees and candidates? Using an employee survey tool that gauges morale and provides the opportunity to leave anonymous feedback can give you a good indication of how employees feel about your workplace. It could also be helpful to refer back to disciplinary actions to see if any patterns emerge.

Feeling underutilized

We see our employees’ resumes when they apply but how often do we refer back to them? Not to mention all of the skills or interests that don’t relate directly to their role. Knowing and utilizing an employee’s wide range of skills can improve employee retention by helping an employee to not only feel valued, but feel like they are living up to their potential. 

Tracking employee qualifications and skills using a certification management tool is a simple way of creating talent profiles for your employees (and ensuring you remain compliant in industries that require specific licenses or certifications). If you’re looking for a specific skill or certification, simply search your employee talent profiles to identify qualified employees. This may result in a growth opportunity for an employee who gets to utilize a skill that is normally underutilized in their role and can benefit their job satisfaction and, ultimately, affect retention.



Having a remote work policy in place can not only pre-emptively address the issue of moving but can also help the employee feel valued. Allowing them to continue working, even with a change in geography, shows how much you want to keep them.

Stepping away for personal reasons

Again, the key to employee retention in scenarios like this could include a flexible work arrangement, a strong paid time-off policy that supports employees, and benefits such as short and long-term disability. An empathetic ear and support go a long way, too.

Time to make a career change

This is much like providing employees with room to grow and ensuring that their skills are being utilized. You cannot change an employee’s mind if they truly want to change careers but you can help ensure their workplace is healthy, has strong perks, and that they feel valued. Are there opportunities for them to make a career change within your organization? If so, explore this option.

Better work-life balance

A large percentage of our time is spent at work but we are not our jobs. We all have lives outside of work and it’s important to foster this part of our lives. A good work-life balance can have positive effects on our performance at work, as well, and lead to less stress and lower risk of burnout.


Something we do at PurelyHR is to give our employees an annual “Yay Day.” It’s a paid day off where employees can try something new or just do something they enjoy. It may be only one day but it shows our employees that we not only value them for their work, but for the person they are. It’s a reminder that their hobbies and non-work life are just as important to us as their time spent on the clock. This perk definitely contributes to our overall employee satisfaction and contributes to retention.

While it’s impossible to convince all employees to stay when faced with these situations, taking a proactive approach to employee retention will have positive effects on culture, engagement, and employee satisfaction. These factors can ultimately lead to your employees sticking around longer, taking pride in their work, and helping your business grow.


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