Retention strategies for early-career employees

Expectations that entry-level employees are only looking to join a company for the short-term can ultimately cause a self-fulfilling prophecy. If employers see no need to invest in people because they expect them to leave, those employees will inevitably leave. Often, this expectation is false, making the outcome avoidable. When workers are happy in their workplace, with plenty of scope for career development, they are more likely to stay with a company longer.

Adversely, some employers may not incentivise early-career employees because they underestimate their options when moving on in their career. However, employers need to consider the current candidate driven market. As it stands, candidates are choosing employers and not the other way around. So, employers don’t just need to attract the best talent to their workforce. They need to have a plan in place as to how to best work with and retain each employee.

Evidence shows that “the most difficult employees to retain are those in entry-level positions.” However, recruitment is costly. According to research, the US retail industry lost “approximately 9 billion dollars to entry-level turnover.”

As such, employers should be implementing retention strategies targeted towards their entry-level employees. After all, a happier, more committed workforce provide a better service to clients, are “more productive and stay longer.”

Making the most of your early-career employees is clearly a win-win situation. So, we’ve put together some ideas of strategies you can implement to incentivise and, ultimately, retain your entry-level employees.

Set out a development plan

Implementing a development plan sets clear goals for employee growth. This gives the employee a set time frame to work within and gives their manager a method for supporting them in this development. It might be that the employee needs to upskill in certain areas to meet these goals. In this case, the company may be able to provide training.

Supporting employees in this way gives them the capacity to step up to greater responsibility when the time comes. It will also mean that you haven’t left it too late to train and upskill them to the correct standard. In turn, investing in your employees gives them a sense of being valued. It also increases productivity as “people are generally motivated by self-development“.

Implement a mentorship scheme

Mentorship provides a safe space for employees to go to for advice, development and encouragement. Knowing who they can go to when they have questions means they don’t have to risk feeling awkward and remaining silent instead of speaking up. Research shows that “employees who experience mentoring are retained.”

These 1-2-1’s, in turn, create a culture of honesty and openness. As a result, individual employees feel able to thrive and have their voices heard. Mentorship also provides a positive framework for giving constructive feedback, enabling workers to improve in their job roles.

Create a positive work environment

A negative work environment permeates the entire workplace. Cultivating a company culture defined by openness can help to create a positive environment. However, there are other benefits you can implement to make sure that your work environment is somewhere employees want to return to every day.

Many companies are now implementing flexible working schemes. For example, flexible start and finish times, time off in lieu and the capacity to work from home. These benefits encourage job autonomy, trust and better work-life balance. When employees aren’t micromanaged, and their personal life is respected, they feel they have the freedom to take ownership of and do well at their job.

Provide opportunities for career growth

If the entry-level jobs in your company are stagnant, employees will be forced to move on so that they can grow and expand in their career. Providing them with opportunities to take on more responsibilities gives them the space to grow within your company.

Creating a plan for the growth of a role can occur before a vacancy even goes live. This approach allows the hiring manager to encourage candidates during the interview stage that this is a long-term position. When candidates know from the start that you plan to develop them you are likely to have a much better pick of candidates. As well as this, the successful candidate will know on starting the position that the company has a long-term strategy in place.

Compensate employees effectively

Compensating employees who are doing particularly well will let them know that they are valued. If you do not compensate them, they will gain their experience in your company. Then, they will take what they’ve learned somewhere else.

Small companies may not have the budgets of larger ones, but there are still benefits that can be implemented. For example, competitive rates for overtime ensures that employees feel their contribution is valued, especially when they work late.

Not all benefits have to be financial and providing your employees with a generous healthcare package can give them a sense of security. Or, a sponsored holiday can help “build camaraderie and teamwork.”

To encourage longevity from your early-career employees, you must provide them with a workplace which enables them to envision the rest of their career. If they are assured that their next steps will be taken care of within your company, they will have no need to look elsewhere.

As the saying goes, you only get out what you put in. Employees you invest in will invest back into your company. So, avoid the presumption that entry-level workers are looking to gain experience and move on. Value their contribution and make them want to stay.