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14 Strategies For How To Retain Top Talent and Build Championship Teams Beyond offering flexibility and healthier work-life balance, CEOs have achieved results by implementing these policies around company culture.

By Elisette Carlson

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

People leave their jobs for multiple reasons, but the top reasons tend to include an inadequate salary, feeling overworked, lack of recognition, unhappiness with management and a lack of satisfaction with the company culture.

As a national champion coxswain (the person who steers and leads a rowing boat) in two countries and a 2-time NCAA All-American, I learned how to extract the best from each individual on a team to win as many races as possible. Business leadership is similar in that if every team member can respect each other and feel appreciated for their contribution to the task at hand, then the odds of employee retention go up. It's not rocket science. People that feel happy, appreciated and rewarded are more likely to stay on the team and at the company.

Having spent over 20 years focused on brand and people culture and currently a partner for a retained executive search firm, Boyden, I'm consistently speaking to C-suite executives and heads of people about their challenges and strategies around employee retention. To best retain employees, I suggest that leaders be present and accessible, empower their team with decision-making and acknowledge and reward achievements, big or small. If available, companies should also maintain a physical office location where brand and people culture can be established and radiate from for hybrid and remote positions. I suggest investing in training programs and leadership that incorporate diversity and inclusivity. If your employees acknowledge that you're investing in them, they feel appreciated. Additionally, they are better positioned to add value and succeed if they are learning.

Beyond offering flexibility and a healthier work-life balance, below are 11 more strategies to retain talent that CEOs have achieved results from:

1. Transparency with business strategy and communication

Being open with your team builds trust, and I appreciate how the founder of Honey Mama's Chocolate, Christy Goldsby expressed this to me: "I think people love working at Honey Mama's because they feel informed and a part of business strategy. This includes budget transparency, informed and educational stock option grants, inclusive leadership meetings, and space for all employees to voice opinions."

Related: Are Your Employees Stressed? You Need to Embrace Transparency.

2. Foster a positive and inclusive company culture

Create a culture that is welcoming, collaborative and inclusive. If employees feel supported and that their cultures, beliefs and genders are embraced, they will be happier and more inclined to work with people they feel positive around.

Related: Inclusivity Begins During the Hiring Process. Here's How to Do It.

3. Offer financial ownership

Give employees an opportunity to invest and have ownership of something around their work. While some people will be less likely to take a risk in equity or ownership, others appreciate it and become more committed to their work, knowing that they are invested in it.

4. Family caregiving leave

Caring for parents or loved ones is a fact of life; most employers have never addressed this. Incorporate caregiving leave or bereavement leave into the company's benefits package, similar to paid maternity or paternity leave. This flexibility will accommodate more employees and attract prospective candidates that might not have otherwise considered a role.

5. Offer a happiness hour

In an interview with the CEO and founder of Vuori, Joe Kudla, said to me: "We invest in employee happiness by offering 'happiness hour' once a day. This is an hour around lunch where no one is supposed to schedule meetings and employees are supposed to take the time for themselves." I loved it as it allows employees to understand that their leader wants them to have time for themselves.

6. Encourage laughter, energy and activities

When people ask me to meet for coffee, I respond, "How about we pick up a coffee and walk?" The outdoors, endorphins and moving our bodies foster positive energy and good moods. If your teams can feel energized and happy frequently, they're more likely to stay at the company because they are happy within the company culture. Be it pickleball, outdoor yoga or walking meetings, activities open the door for people to have fun and feel energized.

7. Treat employees like your best customers

Employees respond best when they feel that their opinions matter and their voices are heard. Tom Hale, CEO of Oura, demonstrates this by explaining a crucial part of their product testing: "Employees at ŌURA have the ability to join studies, test beta features, submit invention ideas and offer feedback on products in development. We find that our employees are incredibly engaged with this work, which promotes a great sense of pride in our mission and vision for a healthier future."

Related: The 4 Rules of Treating Employees Equitably

8. A 4-day workweek

Research shows that a 4-day work week boosts productivity and retention and can attract more diverse talent. While it may be difficult for leaders to adopt because we're so accustomed to the 5-day workweek, I suggest a trial period for CEOs open to exploring it. We all talk about needing an extra 24 hours to do more things that we love, alongside getting to our errands and personal appointments. Employees with this schedule tend to have reduced stress and be more focused when at work. The driver here is for leaders to clarify goals that need to be met to accommodate this schedule.

9. Supporting new parents

New parents become stressed when they need to either decide between work or parenthood or try to juggle both with only 2-4 weeks off and still somewhat working remotely. I appreciate how the Founder and CEO of Ritual, Katerina Scheinder implemented her parental leave policy. Schneider explains, "We survey employees who are parents to better understand their needs which has informed policies like its expanded parental leave policy and monthly child care stipend -- 20 weeks of fully paid company parental leave for all genders who have become parents through birth, adoption, or surrogacy. Alongside an additional eight weeks of flexible working time for birthing parents, a $200 monthly child care stipend, and unlimited paid time off, among other benefits."

Related: Stop Making New Parents Choose Between Their Job and Their Premature Baby

10. A "no work, just fun" retreat

Human beings get to know each other better when they are in environments that encourage fun, relaxation and personal connection. Whether to an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, a winter ski trip or a spring wellness gateway, a 2-3 day annual retreat will strengthen employee bonds. This is where individuals only exposed to the "work" versions of one another learn more about each other such as someone's passion for guitar, love for horseback riding or incredible ability to surf. Through these deeper interactions, stronger levels of trust and respect for one another are forged.

Related: 5 Tips for an Effective Team Retreat

11. Offer customized and more human-centric benefits

While I believe in systems, processes and professionalism to drive organization and efficiency, I believe more in taking a human approach regarding how employees work under company policies. When leaders can offer benefits specific to the individual, that individual will feel valued, trusted and be more inclined to stay at the company. For example, offering free enrollment in meditation or yoga classes to those interested in stress management or free boutique fitness classes to those who are set on a fitness goal. Other benefits can include support with child care, meal delivery or transportation to and from work.

Leaders can also reflect and learn from mistakes. The exit interview process, for example, can reveal where the company is lacking. CEOs and human resource professionals should ask, "What can we do better? What would make you stay with the company? What did you dislike about working with us?"

Regardless of the response, use it as an improvement opportunity. If it's a better working environment, re-evaluate your company culture and current programs put in place. If it's a low salary, re-assess if your salaries are competitive, and so forth. In the same way, I would review areas for growth with my team after a disappointing rowing race. The lessons from exit interviews can be eye-opening for leaders to address company weaknesses and improve on them to retain championship talent.

Elisette Carlson

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor


Elisette Carlson is the Founder of SMACK! Media, a Fractional CMO & Public Relation(ship)s® Agency that helps brands achieve relevance in the health & wellness space. Also a trusted advisor to start-up CEOs and VC firms, she puts ultimate value on personal relationships, teamwork & authenticity.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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