After three years of intense labor market competition, significant shifts in working arrangements, and numerous trends like “The Great Resignation” and “quiet quitting,” 2024 is shaping up to be yet another year of transformations in the workplace.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported fewer employee resignations last year than in previous years, organizations across the board still saw nearly 3.5 million resignations in November 2023 alone. And with over half of all employers disclosing no plans to hire new staff in 2024, the job market is expected to plunge in the first half of the year, displacing high-quality candidates.
So how will this affect organizations' retention goals in the new year?
Having an effective retention strategy will become all the more crucial—not just to prevent high turnover, but to ensure every employee is thriving and can effectively succeed in their roles.
But retention involves more than bribing employees to stay; true employee loyalty requires a positive and supportive workplace culture that values and prioritizes the wellbeing of each individual. As Gallup states, “Employers and employees are heading for a relationship reset [in 2024]”—and that reset must be centered around employee wellness.
In this guide, we’ll walk through the top strategies for retaining employees by taking a holistic approach to workplace wellbeing—but before we dive in, let’s take a step back to understand the overall landscape of employee retention, both this year and in previous years.
Will Employees Stay or Leave in 2024?
It’s impossible to predict whether employees will stay or leave, but it’s critical to understand the underlying reasons behind voluntary turnover.
In 2023, as many as 62% of workers wanted to (or already had) quit their jobs, per a recent report from Money Magazine. That’s a huge portion of the workforce who are not only disengaged, but actively looking for new opportunities. But what was causing this decline in employee satisfaction?
Here are a few top reasons why workers left their jobs last year:
Better Pay and Financial Wellness
Amidst inflationary pressures and the rising cost of living, many workers found their salaries were not keeping pace with their needs. In fact, roughly 62% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck in 2023.
When employees’ financial wellness is suffering, it can become a tremendous, nagging stressor, forcing them to search for new opportunities with more competitive compensation and benefits to provide them with the financial security they need.
Employee recognition is an essential—and often overlooked—element of company culture.
When employees are working hard day in and day out, they deserve acknowledgement and appreciation from their managers and organization at large. Not only does recognition show them they are valued, but it’s also a key driver of employee morale and overall job satisfaction. Without it, workers will feel unnoticed, undervalued, and disconnected, ultimately leading them to find new opportunities.
Lack of Work-Life Balance
The shift to remote work in recent years has redefined employees’ expectations of what it means to be a flexible workplace. Having experienced the work-life balance benefits of flexible schedules and remote work arrangements, many employees are no longer willing to settle for the rigid nine-to-five schedule of traditional office jobs.
However, less than half of workers currently have access to the flexibility they need. Without these options available to them, workers often end up leaving for positions that do offer them, causing turnover rates to soar.
Stress and Burnout
As today’s work environments become more and more fast-paced, coupled with the occasional blurring of lines between work and home in hybrid work arrangements, even well-seasoned, experienced employees are experiencing chronic stress.
While employee stress and burnout have decreased slightly since the pandemic, nearly 72% of workers still report burnout impacting performance in 2023, according to HR Dive. But beyond the decrease in productivity and engagement, burnout can also cause turnover rates to skyrocket if organizations aren’t actively combating it.
Lack of Shared Values
While past generations of workers may not have cared as much about company values, younger employees increasingly want their personal values and beliefs to align with their organization’s.
According to Deloitte, over a third of Gen Zs and millennials have actually turned down positions at companies that do not align with their values. And, those who do work for like-minded companies often report feeling a greater sense of purpose in their roles, significantly contributing to overall morale, motivation, and happiness.
As more and more younger candidates enter the workforce, an organization’s retention rate could hinge on how they demonstrate their values.
No Career Advancement Opportunities
Limited opportunities for professional development and career advancement was a major reason why employees decided to leave their jobs in 2023.
When employees find themselves in stagnant positions without opportunities for growth or promotion, they can easily become disengaged or frustrated. Instead, organizations need to foster these ambitions, help employees develop their skills, and allow them to take on more challenging roles.
Upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling are all excellent ways to support occupational wellbeing for each employee and maximize organizational retention rate.
The State of Talent Retention in 2024
So what does this mean for organizations in 2024? How can teams maintain a positive employee experience that encourages and empowers everyone to be their best selves?
As we navigate the new year, the employee retention landscape will undoubtedly evolve, but a few things remain clear from 2023:
- Employees are facing stress from a variety of areas, from finances to work-life balance.
- More than incentivizing workers, an effective employee retention strategy should create an environment where everyone feels valued, recognized, and has a sense of purpose.
- Organizations are increasingly turning to holistic wellness to bolster their retention strategies.
Successful talent retention depends on an organization’s ability to adapt to evolving expectations and foster a culture where employees thrive.
18 Employee Retention Strategies for 2024
Now that we have a better understanding of why employees left in 2023 and how that might carry into 2024, it’s time to start strategizing talent retention.
To help, here are our top 18 tips to improve employee retention in 2024:
1. Revamp the Hiring and Onboarding Process
The onboarding process is an essential aspect of any holistic retention strategy, ensuring that each new employee is set up to succeed from the beginning. This is a crucial time to establish clear expectations around roles and responsibilities, but it’s also important to introduce new employees to the company culture. One way to accomplish both of these objectives is to implement mentorship programs, pairing a new hire with a current employee to show them the ropes.
2. Conduct Stay and Exit Interviews
Interviews aren’t just to screen candidates for a new hire—they can also be a game-changer for retention initiatives. Stay interviews offer valuable insights into what employees appreciate about their current roles, as well as what might push them to leave. This proactive approach can gauge existing employee sentiments to address concerns before they escalate to resignations.
3. Foster a Safe and Inclusive Work Environment
From new hires to long-standing veterans, everyone should feel safe and welcomed at work. Creating an inclusive work environment requires an active effort to understand, respect, and embrace different backgrounds and celebrate diversity. In addition to implementing policies that address and prevent discrimination or harassment, organizations can also provide a platform for employees to speak and have their voices heard and valued.
4. Provide Mental Health Resources
Acknowledging and supporting employees’ mental health is no longer optional—it’s a necessity. Far from a job perk, mental health resources are essential for supporting the wellbeing of workers, demonstrating the value an organization places on their people’s health. From counseling services to mental health days, these resources offer support, promote a better work-life balance, and help foster a culture of empathy and understanding that significantly boosts morale and retention.
5. Evaluate Compensation Package Competitiveness
With the majority of individuals currently citing finances as their No. 1 stressor, it’s clear that organizations will have to take another look at their compensation packages to ensure they’re competitive. Regularly assessing and adjusting salaries to reflect industry standards, cost of living changes, and the value each employee brings to the table is crucial, but it shouldn’t stop at a paycheck. Consider the entire package, including benefits like health insurance, performance bonuses, and retirement plans.
6. Implement a Financial Wellness Program
Speaking of financial stress and retirement plans, organizations must also recognize the need for financial wellness initiatives. While personal finances can be a sensitive subject for some employees, they might be more willing to take advantage of free, non-judgmental courses and workshops that focus on improving financial literacy and confidence. As they become more financially aware, confident, and stable, employees will feel less stressed or distracted by it in the workplace.
7. Establish Clear Career Pathways
One of the best ways to retain employees is by providing them with a clear pathway toward advancement. Employees need to see a future in their roles, with visible opportunities for growth. Creating structured development plans that outline potential career trajectories can significantly boost loyalty and motivation by showing employees that they’re valued and getting them excited about their futures with the organization.
8. Invest in Leadership Development
In addition to preparing experienced employees for leadership positions, companies must also invest in training their existing leadership teams. Great leaders can motivate their teams and keep engagement high, even during times of stress. Encouraging leaders to be role models not only fosters a positive environment and company culture, but also helps employees develop the same skills for their own professional growth. Focus on programs that enhance soft skills, such as effective communication, empathy in decision-making, and conflict resolution.
9. Promote Transparency in Company Policies
Transparency is another vital element for building trust and loyalty among employees. Organizations must make a concerted effort to ensure all company policies—especially those regarding performance evaluations, promotions, and disciplinary actions—are clear and accessible to everyone. It’s also crucial to regularly communicate any updates or changes in policies and encourage open discussions to address any potential questions or concerns.
10. Conduct Regular Employee Surveys
Regular surveys are a powerful tool for gauging employee satisfaction and identifying areas for improvement. Conducting these surveys consistently also offers workers the opportunity to provide honest feedback. Questions should cover various aspects of the job, from benefits and discrete day-to-day tasks to more nebulous ideas like the company culture. Using this feedback to make positive changes shows employees their opinions are valued, fostering loyalty and satisfaction.
11. Keep an Open Door for Employees
In addition to collecting feedback through regular employee surveys, organizations should also maintain and emphasize their open-door policies in the new year. More than just being available, keeping an open door is about creating an environment in which employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns. Leaders should encourage teams to provide honest comments and feedback, whether it’s about their roles, overall work environment, or specific company policies. Above all, organizations must take the time to actively listen and take action where needed.
12. Focus on Company Culture
As organizations make an effort to collect more employee feedback in 2024, they’ll need to put that information to good use by implementing positive cultural changes across the company. A supportive and vibrant company culture that aligns with the values and aspirations of its workforce is a talent magnet. It’s all about creating an environment where everyone feels connected, engaged, and part of a larger mission or purpose.
13. Create a Recognition and Reward Program
Employees who feel valued and appreciated for the work they do are more motivated, engaged, and loyal. Recognizing and rewarding individuals for their contributions goes a long way in boosting employee morale, whether it's through formal awards, company shout-outs, or individual performance bonuses. To take things a step further, organizations can also develop personalized recognition and reward programs tailored to suit the unique motivations of each employee. Not only will these programs celebrate achievements across teams, but the positive reinforcement will encourage employees to do their best.
14. Offer Flexible Work Arrangements
Employees are increasingly seeking flexibility, forcing many organizations to adapt to their arrangements. From granting employees more control over their work hours to offering remote and hybrid options, these accommodations are becoming more commonplace. While it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, organizations will have to assess their own setups to determine how they can implement these strategies to maintain engagement and prevent attrition.
15. Provide Parental Leave and Support
Supporting work-life balance is crucial, but this comes in a variety of shapes and sizes for different situations. For parents, this means comprehensive maternity and paternity leave in addition to continued support through perks like childcare. By implementing these kinds of support programs and resources for expecting, new, and seasoned parents, organizations proactively demonstrate a commitment to their employees and their families, and in turn, employees are more likely to stay.
16. Host Social Events to Foster Community
Creating a sense of community within the workplace is vital, and hosting social events is a great way to achieve this. In 2024, organizations should emphasize the importance of organizing events that bring employees together outside of the context of work. By facilitating group activities in this kind of relaxed, informal setting, employees will feel more at ease and connected. Whether it’s a casual Friday lunch or an after-work gathering, these events offer important opportunities for people to build stronger, more personal relationships with each other.
17. Align Company and Personal Values
Employees increasingly want to work for organizations that share their personal values, especially members of younger generations. Ensuring alignment between employees and organizations will become increasingly important for talent retention in the modern workforce. Regularly communicating missions, goals, and values will be key, along with demonstrating them through actions and decisions. When employees feel they’re working for an organization that reflects their own beliefs and code of ethics, they develop a deeper connection to their work, driven by a greater sense of purpose.
18. Prioritize a Holistic Approach to Wellness
Adopting a holistic approach to wellness will become a driving force behind employee retention strategies—but this wellness must extend beyond the traditional idea of health as strictly physical and mental. From financial and professional development programs to social outings and company values, employers must be able to address each aspect of wellness to effectively support their employees. Demonstrating this level of commitment to each worker ultimately leads to a workforce that is happy, engaged, motivated, and most importantly, loyal.
Looking to elevate your wellness program for the new year? WellRight is here to help. Contact an expert to find out more about what a holistic wellness program can do for your employees.