5 Ways to Improve Employee Retention Before Their First Day on the Job—and Beyond

Mar 1, 2023

By Brian Anderson

Because a business’s most valuable asset is its workforce, employee retention is likely one of its top priorities. In the current job market, though, retention is becoming increasingly difficult. Although many organizations take proactive steps to keep their employees happy after they’ve been onboarded, the best method for achieving high employee retention begins before the first interview—and it’s built around company values. By using five key strategies to bring its core values to life, an organization can attract the applicants who are the best fit for the company’s culture and keep its current employees happy, too.

Write a better job description

Most organizations list their values as bullet points somewhere toward the end of the job description—and that gives potential employees the cue to gloss right over them. A better approach is to tie company values to the job requirements and to the benefits that the organization offers. For instance, if one of the values is agility, the job description can highlight the importance of autonomy and fast decision making in the role. Or if one core value is to prioritize employee well-being, the job description could mention a wellness package as one of the benefits. 

Demonstrate company values from first contact 

Everyone has encountered a company that claims respect as a core value but has a reputation for ghosting applicants. That’s not a good look. An organization’s values should lie at the center of its hiring process and should set the precedent for what the candidate can expect from the company’s culture. How interviews are conducted, the negotiation process, the onboarding process—every interaction the organization has with candidates should reflect its values. 

Hire employees who add to the company’s culture

Although many recruiters refer to culture considerations as checking for a culture fit, supporting a healthy culture relies more heavily on finding employees who move the organization in the right direction. There are many ways to determine how a new hire can help the company move closer to its ideals. Hiring managers can ask applicants for examples of how, in their previous role, they manifested the values of the company they hope to join, or how they interpret the new company’s values, or even with which of those values they feel most aligned. With employee turnover rates still at high levels, it’s important for organizations to be sure that applicants understand—and align with—their company values. 

Praise well—and often 

Few things are more demoralizing than being unrecognized. That’s why, even though organizations should make their values clear from the very start of the hiring process, they should also recognize employees who exemplify those values. Employees who are routinely praised for their work feel appreciated, and a culture of appreciation leads to higher retention. 

Make values part of the company’s brand

Some brands are more transparent about their values than others, and their beliefs are intertwined with the brand identity. Ben & Jerry’s, for example, is politically outspoken on Twitter, and even some of their product names highlight the company values. Every organization should assess what and how it is communicating to the world about its values. A company doesn’t need to name a product after a social movement, but if it finds that its recruitment efforts are attracting candidates who don’t align with its business culture, perhaps that’s an indication that the company’s branding poorly reflects its values. In that case, ads, events, programs, and other outreach efforts can help make those values more visible to the outside world—and draw the interest of more appropriate candidates. 

It’s critical for an organization to have its core values firmly established before trying to attract candidates. Those core values are central to hiring decisions and absolutely essential for increasing employee retention. A company that hires the people who are right fit will find that they attract others who align with the organization’s brand. Having a cohesive culture will lead to building a team that can grow together, thrive, and stay with the company for the long term.

Brian Anderson is a creative copywriter for BambooHR, where he explores the different motivations that shape the employee experience and the psychology of human resources.

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