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Employee Retention: Beyond the Honeymoon Phase

By Taylor Berman - Nov. 1, 2022
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Just like in marriage, the honeymoon phase at work is during the first few months to a year when new employees are full of hope and excitement about the job.

It’s an employers job to keep their employees engaged and excited even after the honeymoon phase ends.

If you struggle to retain your staff for longer than 12-18 months, you have an employee turnover problem that needs solving. While your actions during the honeymoon phase certainly impact retention rates, it’s what you do after this period ends that ultimately determines whether or not an employee will stick around.

Key Takeaways:

  • Your employee retention can improve company culture, reduce expenses, and increase employee productivity.

  • To improve your employee retention rate improve communication and invest in employee personal development.

  • Making sure your employees have a healthy workload and a positive work-life balance will increase their happiness and engagement with the company.

Employee Retention: Beyond The Honeymoon Phase

Why Employee Retention is Important

The employee retention rate at a company is the key to the organizations competitiveness, productivity, and culture. Without constant employees a company won’t be able to grow and reach their goals.

Here are some reasons why your employee retention rate is important:

  • Improves company culture. When you have employees filtering in and out all the time, employees won’t be happy. The employees who do stay might feel as if they don’t ever know who they are working with and they aren’t a team. When employees are together longer, it improves productivity and makes employees feel as if they are apart of a team.

  • Reduces expenses. It can be costly when you are hiring new employees all the time. From having to offer competitive rates to paying for their training, new employees tend to cost the company money at first. When you are able to keep employees for a long time, you are rewarded with higher commitment, skill, and overall morale.

  • Higher productivity. When employees feel as if they are able to grow within the company, they will be able to increase their productivity. The longer an employee is with a company, the more confident and skilled they become.

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Reasons Why Employees Quit

  • Company culture changes drastically. When deciding to apply to work at your business, most employees probably take into account the working environment. Maybe they liked the idea of working in an informal environment, without having to worry about wearing suits. Perhaps they were drawn to the opportunity to work flexible hours.

    If you make the decision to withdraw or restrict these perks, employees would definitely be disappointed. It would give them one less reason to stay. You can communicate your reasons for the change with employees to reduce any resentment, but employees won’t only be annoyed at the decision for selfish reasons. They might be concerned about the direction your company is going in.

  • Micromanagement. When employees feel as if they are being micromanaged, they will feel uncomfortable and have anxiety about the work that they are producing. Micromanagement decreases productivity and can decrease employee moral.

    Try having management check in on projects once a day if they feel the need to, and work on the trust they have for their employees. This will help them feel as if the work they are producing is good.

  • Company values change. Most of the time when looking for a job, employees want to work for a company that shares the same values as them. If a company starts to stray away from the values they once held, it can cause employees to start to look for work elsewhere. If the company changes in any way, try to keep those core values similar to what they once were.

  • Inadequate compensation. Most employers want to think that their employees are working at their company because they want to, but the reality is the compensation is a big factor as to where someone works. If the pay and benefits that are offered at a company aren’t competitive, employees tend to look elsewhere for compensation.

How To Improve New Employee Retention

  1. Improve communication. Learning how to communicate effectively with employees is critical: not just when discussing everyday business tasks, but also when talking about their future. An annual appraisal shouldn’t be the only time you discuss how an employee is faring at work.

    Check-in with each employee every couple of weeks. Ask them about the project they’re working on. Find out if they have any concerns. Talk about any training or promotion opportunities. Use a mix of informal chats at their desk and private one-to-one meetings – there may be some topics they don’t wish to talk about with other staff present.

    having a third party in place during difficult work-related discussions can help you make progress. Ideally, this’ll be someone from HR. If in doubt of the best approach, follow these communication tips:

    • Be honest and open whenever possible. This’ll encourage employees to act the same

    • Be fair. Apply your policies fairly and provide full explanations for your decisions. Try to find compromises where possible, and look to previous incidents to help guide your response to future incidents

    • Always stay calm. Shouting at your employees doesn’t help to resolve any situation

    • Listen to what they have to say

    • Understand that sometimes resolution is impossible but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

  2. Invest in their personal development. If you don’t give employees the chance to gain new skills and advance their careers within the company, they will look for a chance to do so elsewhere.

    Training and development are important not just for the new skills gained. Your employees will appreciate the change of pace the learning process provides. It adds variety to their role. It gives individuals new aims, goals and a sense of progress. After all, once you’ve been working a particular role for a year or so, there’s not much left to learn.

  3. Offer rewards and appreciation. After working for a company for a few months, employees will notice if they’re efforts aren’t appreciated. In a way, it’s the little things that matter most. A quick ‘thank you’ for staying late to finish a task, or a brief word to praise a recent piece of work will go far.

    The rewards that you offer could be as little as getting to take a three day weekend when you complete a project, or something larger such as bonuses. The rewards that an employer gives out can be determined by what they employee did to get it, and the company budget.

  4. Acknowledge milestones. Another important aspect of employee engagement is the connection employees have with the company as a whole. Celebrating company milestones is an obvious way to do this. Employees who feel a strong connection with the company will be less likely to look for work elsewhere.

    When you hit X clients, Y employees or Z turnover, don’t keep the information to yourself. Instead, arrange an event to commemorate this impressive achievement and your employees’ role in reaching it! As with marriage, celebrating the company’s anniversary (or the anniversary of a certain employee joining) is a fantastic way to strengthen bonds and look back fondly on the previous year.

  5. Create a positive work-life balance. If you expect your staff to be available around the clock, even on vacation, you might find your employee turnover to be high. Establishing a positive work-life balance will help prevent your employees from feeling overworked and burnt out.

    Giving employees an opportunity to work-from-home, if available, can give them a flexible schedule. In the last few years, remote working has provided people a better work-life balance, since they are able to be with their families and friends more.

  6. Provide feedback on performance. Instead of doing annual performance reviews, try having monthly one-on-one meetings with your employees and provide feedback on their performance. That way they know what to improve on if needed. This is also a great time to check in and see if they are struggling with anything.

    Talking with your employees means you are able to get to know them better. Allow them to give you feedback on your performance as well. This will make them feel valued and heard by their management.

  7. Include employees. New employees want to feel as if they were hired for a reason. Constantly excluding them from meetings or out of office activities will have them wondering why they are there.

    Including these new hires in decision making meetings can make them feel as if they are apart of the team. This also goes for any activates that are done outside of work hours. No one wants to hear about the party they weren’t invited to because they are new.

  8. Provide employees with meaningful work. When employees are new, they tend to get stuck doing the grunt work and work that no one else wants to do. This can cause an employee to feel as if what they do doesn’t matter.

    Providing varied tasks and stimulating tasks can help them feel as if the work they are doing matters. Another great way to give them meaningful work, is to delegate some of your tasks to them, which gives them a chance to learn new skills and gain new experience within the company.

  9. Don’t overwork employees. While it’s important to provide meaningful work for them, giving them too much work can lead to stress and burnout. Make sure you are establishing a healthy work environment and make sure they are taking breaks when needed. Have your managers model these behaviors to help employees feel comfortable doing the same.

    Giving healthy workloads to employees can also increase productivity because they are able to focus on one task at a time and put all of their focus on it giving the best outcome possible.

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Final Thoughts

Even a model employer won’t be able to keep hold of employees forever. For most of us, there comes a time to move on and seek new challenges elsewhere. That doesn’t mean investing in staff retention is futile. Increasing your average employee tenure makes perfect business sense – so long as employees stay engaged and productive throughout.

If you’re going to take one business lesson from this article, it should be this: The honeymoon phase definitely exists for new employees, and smart managers are aware of that. You need to work on your employer-employee relationships as you work on a marriage, if there’s to be any chance of building a successful, long term partnership.


Taylor Berman

Taylor is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania. Taylor got into writing because she enjoys writing articles that help people and loves creating stories that inspire. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with an interest in communications media from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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