Talk to anybody running a business or working in HR these days and they’ll tell you that finding and keeping employees is one of their top challenges.

More than 40% of US workers say they are actively looking for a new job — more than double the rate from just a few years ago. The “Great Resignation” is real and it’s impacting businesses of all sizes. In the Denver area, we’ve seen restaurants, pharmacies, and retail stores shutting down or reducing hours.

It’s been so difficult to keep public transit running smoothly that the Regional Transportation District has been offering $4,000 hiring bonuses. Many businesses have raised their wages, but still, struggle to find qualified workers willing to take their jobs.

While wages are always part of attracting and maintaining a skilled workforce, other retention strategies can also make a difference.

Here are five strategies that research shows can make a big difference in reducing turnover and keeping your best performers onboard.

1. Flexible Working Arrangements

More than two-thirds of employees say they want more flexible work schedules, such as four-day workweeks, remote work environments, or hybrid at-home/in-office schedules. Some companies are experimenting more with part-time employment and job sharing as a solution to the labor shortage.

2. Benefit Improvements

After years of increasing costs and employer cutbacks on benefits, employees are now placing a higher priority on benefits packages. Health insurance and some form of retirement or deferred savings plan are second only to flexible working arrangements in several worker surveys.

3. Improving Reputation

55% of employees said they choose not to apply for jobs at companies that don’t have a good reputation. This could be how the company is perceived in the community or how current and former workers say they’ve been treated.

4. Engaging Workers

According to Gallup, nearly two-thirds of US workers are disengaged at work. These are the employees that are most likely to leave and least likely to be productive workers. Employee retention strategies should focus on creating higher levels of engagement.

This starts by building a strong corporate culture that values employees and provides a sense of purpose. When employees have a clear understanding of their organization’s mission and understand how their job helps meet company goals, engagement is significantly higher. Other strategies include:

  • Identifying and tracking realistic goals
  • Consistent communication
  • Demonstrating empathy
  • Coaching managers and holding them accountable for employee engagement
  • Listening to employee concerns and addressing them
  • Say thank you – it goes a long way

5. Providing Growth Opportunities

One recent survey shows that a third of those changing jobs did so because they didn’t have growth opportunities in their current role. Many simply said they were bored with their current workload.

Provide employees with opportunities to learn and grow. Employees see training and education as an investment in their careers. 76% of employees surveyed said they are looking for career growth. The numbers are even higher for Millennials.

Here’s the biggest payoff: 94% of employees report they would be willing to stay with their employer longer if their employer invested in the learning and development of its employees.