Five Ways to Improve Employee Retention Before Their First Day and Beyond

Your employees are your business’s most valuable asset. That means employee retention is likely one of your top priorities, but it’s also increasingly difficult in the current job market. While many organizations take proactive steps to keep their employees happy after they’ve been onboarded, the real trick to high employee retention begins before the first interview—and it all has to do with your company values.

Here are five ways to bring your core values to life so they attract the right applicants for your company’s culture and keep your employees happy once they’re part of the team.

1. Write a better job description.

Most organizations list their values as bullet points somewhere toward the end of the job description and that gives potential employees the cue to gloss right over them. Instead, try tying your values to your benefits and to the job requirements. For instance, if one of your values is agility, highlight the importance of autonomy and fast decision making in the role. Or, if one of your core values is about prioritizing the wellbeing of employees, that could come through in a wellness package.

2. Demonstrate your values from first contact.

Ever encounter a company that claims to have “respect” as a core value, but has a reputation for ghosting applicants? It’s not a good look. Your values should be at the center of your hiring process and should set the precedent for what your candidate can expect from the culture of your organization. From the way interviews are conducted to the negotiation process, everything should be a reflection of your values.

3. Hire employees who add to your culture.

While many recruiters refer to culture considerations as checking for a culture fit, supporting a healthy culture relies more heavily on finding employees who move your organization in the right direction.

There are many ways to determine what a new hire will add to your culture to bring you closer to your ideals. You can ask applicants for demonstrations of your company values in their previous role, ask how they interpret your values or even which of your values they align with most. Since 50% of employees voluntarily leave in the first two years of employment, it’s important to make sure your values are well understood by an applicant and there’s mutual alignment.

4. Praise well, and praise often.

There are few things more demoralizing than being unrecognized. That’s why, even though you should make your values clear from the very start of the hiring process, you should also recognize employees who exemplify those values. Employees who are routinely praised for their work feel appreciated, and a culture of appreciation leads to higher retention.

5. Make your values part of your brand.

Some brands are more transparent about their values than others and their beliefs are intertwined with the brand identity. Ben & Jerry’s, for example, is politically outspoken on Twitter, and even some of their product names tell you what the company values.

What is your organization communicating to the outside world about your values? You don’t need to name a product after a social movement, but if you find your recruitment efforts are attracting candidates who don’t align with your business culture, it may be because your branding is poorly reflecting your values. Consider ads, events, and programs that make your values more visible to the outside world and attract more appropriate candidates.

It’s critical for your organization to have its core values firmly established before trying to attract candidates. Those core values are central to hiring decisions and are absolutely essential for increasing employee retention. When you hire the right people, you’ll also find they attract others who align with your brand. Having a cohesive culture will lead to building a team that can grow together, thrive, and—most importantly—stay with you for the long term.