How to Improve Employee Retention by Tuning In to Employee Sentiment

A manager and an employee talk in an office

ADP research reveals a disparity where most employers think they're doing well in showing employees they care about them but only about two-thirds of employees agree this is true. Employees who don't think their priorities are being heard tend to leave for greener pastures, so it's helpful to dig in and consider what can be done before retention becomes a problem. Organizations can address this challenge in a few key ways with proactive employee feedback collection, encouraging a culture of effective two-way communication and maximizing tools that can help employees feel more empowered.

Business leaders know that figuring out how to improve employee retention relies somewhat upon giving employees what they want — from compensation and benefits to the everyday employee experience.

The challenge is that employees and their employers don't seem to be on the same page. In ADP's 2023 report 3 Ways to Manage Retention & Accelerate Business Growth, research points to a misalignment between employer and employee opinion, with 87% of employers thinking they demonstrate care but only 65% of employees agreeing that they do. This disparity underscores the potential for employees to leave due to misunderstood priorities.

As employers work on employee retention, they'll need to bridge the gap between what employees expect and what the organization delivers. Addressing these concerns is critical for business performance, especially amid a tight labor market.

To gain better insight into employee sentiment, employers must consider moving beyond sporadic methods to proactive, frequent and multifaceted approaches. Here are some actions any organization can adopt to motivate employees to stay and feel supported.

To gain better insight into employee sentiment, employers must consider moving beyond sporadic methods to proactive, frequent and multifaceted approaches. Here are some actions any organization can adopt to motivate employees to stay and feel supported.

Tune into employee sentiment

When organizations miss the mark on employees' needs, it can indicate a problem with how leaders measure employee sentiment. The traditional annual employee feedback survey is no longer enough; the approach allows issues — and resentment — to grow, and the feedback is often too little, too late for addressing employee concerns. And that's assuming leaders prioritize employee feedback when making business decisions, which is not always the case.

A better strategy involves proactively collecting honest, clear feedback on a frequent basis and in a variety of ways. This can be as simple as a team leader or manager conducting weekly check-ins with their team and asking specific questions about day-to-day tasks, finding out what resources and support they need and gauging their stress levels.

Organizations can scale this up easily with employee engagement technology that includes feedback opportunities. These can offer a near real-time assessment of employee sentiment, allowing leaders to spot issues more quickly and respond to concerns.

Make effective communication the center of the experience

Another key element of improving retention is ensuring effective two-way communication is so engrained in the organization's culture that it's a natural part of the employee experience. When employees feel encouraged to share feedback and make suggestions without fear of backlash, genuine relationships and authentic care can emerge.

To support this goal, managers must have ongoing, high-quality training on emotional intelligence, promoting mental health and alleviating employee stress. They also need to know the signs to watch for and how to communicate with different personalities and via different channels. It also helps if leaders are aware of the various ways the organization offers support, such as access to financial wellness resources, policies on flexibility and understanding of individual worker preferences.

The point of nurturing a supportive environment is so that employees know their leaders are listening to their actual needs and working to meet them. It can foster better employee engagement and may ultimately reduce turnover.

Leverage technology to support self-service and improvement

The way the tactics noted so far make the journey from idea to reality is via technology. The best HR systems give leaders the data, tools and insights to support the people on whom organizational success depends. Today's technology for HR can streamline everything from onboarding to benefits management to automating administrative tasks. It can make information and tools accessible to employees, empowering them to exert more control over their work lives. Each tech-friendly, time-saving component helps create a more positive, engaging employee experience that can inspire them to stay.

Closing the gap between disconnection and employee retention

Addressing how to improve employee retention first requires leaders to acknowledge and address any disconnection between employer perception and employee reality. Keeping employees happy is crucial for business success. To nail it, leaders need to listen actively and tune into what their team members really want out of their daily work lives. Regular check-ins, open communication and tech-powered, self-service HR tools can make all the difference.

When employees feel valued and heard, they're more likely to stick around — and that's a win for everyone.

Learn how a collaboration with ADP can help accelerate your franchise's strategic growth goals. Download our guide today: 3 Ways to Manage Retention & Accelerate Business Growth

View our infographic for three key steps: Managing retention to help drive franchise growth