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Boost Employee Retention Without Breaking the Bank

Nine strategies to help you boost employee retention

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Building a Strong and Engaged Workforce

Unlocking Employee Retention Strategies for HR Professionals

In today’s competitive job market, it’s more important than ever for businesses to focus on employee retention. Employee turnover is a costly problem for businesses of all sizes. According to the CIPD, the average cost of replacing an employee in the UK is £30,000. In addition to the financial costs, turnover can lead to decreased productivity, morale and customer satisfaction.

HR professionals are at the forefront of this battle, tasked with creating an environment that fosters employee loyalty and commitment.

1. Creating a Positive and Supportive Work Culture

A positive and supportive work culture is the foundation of a thriving workplace and the bedrock of retaining top talent.


Cultivating a Culture of Appreciation and Recognition

Let your employees know you appreciate their hard work and dedication. Employees can feel recognised through formal recognition programs, like earning the Employee of the Month award, or through informal gestures, such as receiving a handwritten thank you note. Deputy allows managers to recognise employees' efforts, fostering a culture of appreciation publicly. Employees want to feel valued and appreciated for their hard work. Make sure to recognise and reward employees for their contributions regularly.

  • If a barista is consistently receiving good feedback from happy customers, or a retail associate accomplished this week’s sales targets, recognise and appreciate them.

  • Treat them on their birthday by arranging a small celebration or gift for their special day. You can also order a whole cake or a dozen sweet treats to share with the rest of your team.

  • If they’re hitting a smaller goal, such as serving the most tables in a day, give them a gift card to their favourite coffee shop or boutique.

  • If your store staff hit an all time revenue high, celebrate with them on an employee offsite.


Encouraging Open Communication and Feedback

Create an environment where your staff feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. This will help you identify and address any issues affecting employee satisfaction. Deputy’s communication tools facilitate open dialogue among employees and business managers. Features like real-time messaging and emotional well-being check-ins can help break down communication barriers. Prioritise creating a relaxed and welcoming environment where employees feel safe to speak up.

Encouraging Work-Life Balance and Flexibility

Employees need to be able to balance their work and personal lives. In Deputy’s recent State of Shift Work survey, the top two things employees like about shift work are schedule flexibility and the ability to fit in other commitments. Offer flexible work arrangements and shift-swapping policies that support employees’ well-being. With shift swapping and leave management features, Deputy promotes work-life balance and flexibility for shift workers.

2. Offering Opportunities for Professional Growth

According to Deputy’s data, 89% of UK shift workers want their employer to offer personal or professional development opportunities. Career and job-related certifications, technical skills, and leadership are the most popular. Empowering employees with growth opportunities fosters loyalty and commitment to your business. You want to see that they are growing and developing in their careers. Offering opportunities for professional growth is a great way to keep them engaged and motivated.


Personalised Skill Development and Training Programs

Provide your staff with the training and development they need to succeed. This could include formal training programs, on-the-job training, or mentorship opportunities.


Implementing Career Progression Plans

Create clear career paths for employees so they know what they need to reach their goals. Support them in mapping out their career goals and developing a plan to achieve them. This will give them a sense of purpose and direction in their work. Leverage Deputy’s performance  management tools to track employee progress and implement effective career progression plans.


Mentoring and Coaching Initiatives

Pair your newer starters with experienced internal mentors or external work coaches who can help them develop their skills and knowledge as well as deal with the demands of shift work on their bodies and mental health. Use Deputy’s communication tools to share mentoring and coaching messages within the business. A lot of times, shift workers work alone late at night, very early in the morning different team members on different days each week during their shifts. This can lead to feelings of isolation. When you pair them with a mentor, however, they have someone with whom they can talk and ask questions. Coaches can be found online who can help your team of shift workers cope better with the rigours and demands of shift working. For example, Coach Roger of A Healthy Shift provides tips on how to recover from night shifts.

3. Embracing Technology for Seamless Onboarding

Streamlining onboarding through cutting-edge technology saves time and enhances the onboarding experience for new hires. Here are some innovative ways to use technology to improve onboarding:


Leveraging Digital Onboarding Platforms for Efficiency

Digital onboarding platforms can automate many onboarding tasks, such as paperwork and compliance processes. This frees up time for you to focus on more strategic tasks. Deputy Onboarding streamlines the onboarding process, reducing paperwork and enhancing the new hire process. “I’ve been using Deputy Onboarding for some time now. It’s a handy feature. It saves me time and money,” says Mary Birks, HR Manager at MPK Garages.

Automating paperwork and compliance processes can help ensure you meet all onboarding requirements promptly and efficiently. Automation can save time, reduce errors, and reduce administrative burden. “Onboarding used to take us at least a week for each new starter, which could delay them getting paid. With Deputy, you can get through all the onboarding paperwork on Tuesday and include them on the pay run the next day,” says Simon Fox, General Manager, Operations, The Boathouse Group.


Gamifying Onboarding to Enhance Engagement

Gamification means using gameplay mechanics for non-game applications to encourage specific behaviours and outcomes. Gamification can make onboarding more engaging and interactive for new hires by adding elements that make the hire experience more fun, competitive and exciting. Activities like games and quizzes can help new starters learn more quickly and effectively about the company culture and their new role. Points, scores and leaderboards are traditional gamification elements that show your employees how much progress they’re making with their onboarding.

4. Implementing Effective Employee Recognition Programs

Recognising and rewarding employees for their contributions drives a sense of value and appreciation. According to our 2023 State of Shift Work report, 46% of UK shift workers believe that being valued and recognised for their contribution will create a more positive work environment. Recognition is undoubtedly a powerful motivator. Employees who feel appreciated for their work are more likely to be engaged and productive. With rising business costs, justifying a pay rise can be difficult, but recognising your staff for their hard work is essential.


Implementing Employee Recognition Programs

Create a formal employee recognition program to show appreciation for your employees’ hard work. This could involve giving out awards for performance targets. Learn how Deputy can provide you with the performance data to design structured recognition programs that keep your staff motivated.


Non-Financial Rewards and Perks

Don’t underestimate public praise on team platforms. Don’t let your team feel under- appreciated and disenchanted about their work. If you can’t reward them with higher pay, demonstrate in other ways that their efforts don’t go unnoticed. South London pub Prince of Peckham regularly hosts team gatherings and does a weekly shout-out Sunday appreciation post to recognise their staff. Honest Burgers, one of our customers, periodically features and recognises its staff on its Instagram page and LinkedIn platform.


Incentive-based Recognition Initiatives

If you’re in the lucky position to be able to afford monetary recognition rewards, these can be a powerful way to show your appreciation for your staff’s hard work. You can give bonuses, commissions, or other forms of compensation. Non-monetary incentive programs could include contests, leaderboards and challenges encouraging employees to achieve specific goals and go above and beyond.

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pro tips

Employee recognition tips

  • Ensure the program aligns with your company’s values.

  • Get employee feedback on the program.

  • Make the program’s requirements easy to understand.

  • Track the results of the program.

  • Be specific about what you recognise. Don’t just say, “Good job.” Tell your employees what they did that was so great.

  • Be timely. Don’t wait till the end of the year to recognise your team. Recognise your team as soon as possible after they do something that deserves recognition.

  • Make it personal. Don’t just send out a generic email or letter. Take the time to write a personal note or have a 1:1 with the employee.

  • Be sincere. People can tell when recognition is genuine. Make sure that your appreciation is honest and heartfelt.

5. Prioritising Work-Life Balance and Well-being

Striving for a healthy work-life balance contributes to employee satisfaction and retention. Employees who feel frustrated about working long hours that leave little time for themselves are more likely to leave. To avoid early departures from your company, it’s important to prioritise work-life balance and well-being.


Offering Flexible Work Arrangements for Shift Workers

A flexible working culture is the number one priority for shift workers. Flexible work schedules mean something very different for shift workers than for nine-fivers. For shift workers, flexibility means having more control over when they work, a stable and predictable shift schedule and the ability to declare their availability or swap shifts quickly when life happens. Deputy’s scheduling tools can accommodate shift workers’ needs, offering flexible arrangements and easy shift swapping that enhance work-life balance.

According to Deputy’s 2023 State of Shift Work report, one-fifth of UK shift workers have more than one job, making flexible working arrangements and clarity even more critical. 45% of UK shift workers value the ability to fit in other commitments and 43% say they appreciate schedule flexibility.

Nurturing Employee Wellbeing Through Wellness Initiatives

These include on-site fitness facilities or equipment like yoga mats or weights, free mental health resources, EAP or health insurance. Over 60% of UK shift workers in our State of Shift Work survey say their employers have offered additional benefits such as free mental health programs, financial education opportunities, same-day pay for quicker access to wages, free meals and drinks and cashback offers to remedy some of the effects of the cost of living crisis. Second to better pay, these benefits rank highly according to our data in retaining employees, with 94% of UK shift workers wanting more benefits.


Promoting Mental Health Support and Resources

Provide mental health resources, such as counselling or therapy through an Employee Assistance Programme, to create a culture where staff feel comfortable discussing their mental health. Check out our Hospitality Growth Hacks series that tackles how to support and retain your team through the cost of living crisis. You can also use Deputy’s communication platform to share mental health resources and support or just give words of encouragement to your team during a hard shift.

6. Building Strong Employee-Manager Relationships

The relationship between employees and their managers plays a crucial role in their decision to stay with the company. According to a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), 72% of employees who left their jobs in the past year cited their manager as a reason for going. According to our State of Shift Work study, 67% of shift workers who feel satisfied with their jobs say they feel supported by their managers.


Effective Managerial Communication

Be clear, concise and honest in your communication with your team. Be open to honest feedback and willing to listen to their concerns and suggestions. Open and honest communication can improve trust and respect among team members, enhancing collaboration, increasing productivity and creating a more positive work environment. Lead by example by fostering transparent communication consistently.


Regular Check-ins and Performance Feedback

You should schedule regular check-ins with employees to discuss their work and provide feedback. This will help ensure your team stays on track and that any problems are dealt with early on. Establish reliable channels for regular check-ins and performance feedback. Policies should guide how these should occur and which channels they’ll take place on.


Building Trust

Building trust is vital for employee relationships, from keeping your team in the loop on important business updates to making sure they’re paid correctly. Deputy’s time tracking and compliance tools give employees the confidence that they’re being paid for their exact work hours and entitlements with every payroll.


Providing Supportive Leadership

Support your employees if they struggle with workload or other issues. Create a supportive work environment fostering a culture of respect and understanding and providing employees with the resources they need to succeed. You can reduce stress and enhance overall job satisfaction by fostering a positive work environment.

pro tips

Building strong relationships

  • Host an offsite: company offsites are useful for leaders to dedicate time and space for really important conversations you want to have with your team which they might not have time for during your normal work hours. Offsites can be as complicated as rock climbing or as simple as taking your team to lunch and if they work in hospitality, they can enjoy being served for a change.

  • Use an icebreaker: before team meetings, use an icebreaker so that your team members can relax and get in the right mindset for what you’re about to discuss. Icebreakers are also great to use for training sessions with new employees, strengthening bonds with team members and reducing tension at work.

  • Share and explore your values: share your personal and professional values regularly with your team. Initiate reflection of their values and discuss how they can take a value-based approach to learning.

  • Empathise with them: get to know your team’s painpoints and see the working life from their perspective. This will help you bond with them, make you a better

7. Empowering Employees with a Sense of Purpose

Employees who connect with the purpose and vision of the organisation are more likely to stay and contribute. The following strategies can help align your workforce with your business’s objective.


Aligning Employees with the Business's Mission

Your staff should understand the company’s mission and how their work contributes to it. Ensure you articulate your mission by crafting a clear and compelling mission statement. Involve your staff in the creation of your mission statement and reiterate this mission consistently in all your communications with your staff. Infuse this mission into your everyday workplace culture by making it part of your performance reviews or decorating the staff area so it’s top of mind. Use Deputy’s communication tools to regularly share your business’s mission and values, fostering a sense of alignment and purpose among your workforce.


Communicating the Impact of Employees' Work on the Organisation

Regularly remind your employees of the impact of their work on the company and its customers. Be intentional about highlighting team and individual contributions to the business. Implement recognition programs that tie accomplishments to the organisation’s goals and share employee testimonials and stories of employees who’ve made a meaningful impact on the company. Leverage Deputy’s performance tracking features to highlight the impact of individual and team contributions on your organisation’s success.


Connecting Employees to the Greater Impact on the Community

Employees should know how their work and the company positively impact the community. CSR initiatives can involve employees in community-related activities. You can also encourage and facilitate volunteer work among your team. Another strategy worth implementing is measuring and communicating the collective difference your company makes in the community. Regardless of your path, use Deputy to share how your business contributes to the community, promoting a sense of purpose and pride among your employees.

8. Fostering Teamwork and Autonomy for Higher Employee Retention

Fostering a culture of teamwork and autonomy among your employees is a game-changer for boosting retention rates. This section will discuss the importance of creating a supportive team environment and fostering autonomy among your staff members, ultimately leading to higher employee satisfaction and retention.


Team Building Activities

Teamwork is not just about working together; it's about building a culture of mutual support and shared goals that can make employees feel valued and less likely to leave. Encouraging team-building activities is one way to teach employees to create a collaborative work environment.


Trust Employees with Decision-Making Responsibilities

Granting employees autonomy can increase job satisfaction, improve productivity and enhance employee retention. Offering them decision-making responsibilities can boost their confidence and loyalty. Explore how giving them a stake in decision-making can lead to a more satisfied workforce.


Promoting Cross-Training and Skill Development and Sharing

Encourage employees to gain diverse skills by promoting cross-training, skill development and sharing. Our data shows that 89% of UK shift workers want their employer to offer development opportunities such as professional certifications, learning experiences, leadership training and professional coaching. Cross-functional project teamwork is another way to promote collaboration and innovation. Use Deputy’s task delegation feature to encourage learning diverse skills within your business - only once you’ve trained the team member in the new task!

9. Streamlining the Hiring Process for Better Retention

A seamless hiring process can set the stage for better employee retention right from the start. The hiring process is an employee's first interaction with your company, and a positive experience can set the tone for their tenure, impacting their decision to stay in the long run. This section delves into strategies for optimising your hiring workflow, ensuring you find suitable candidates and swiftly bring them on board. Candidates must have an excellent first impression of your company.


Crafting Engaging Job Descriptions

Your journey to better employee retention starts with an enticing job description. It’s vital to write job descriptions that reflect your company culture and highlight opportunities for growth and development, all while using language that resonates with your target candidates. Deputy’s AI capabilities can support you in crafting compelling listings that attract candidates who align with your company’s values. With Deputy, you can create and post a job in seconds using AI-assisted job descriptions and find the right people faster.


Improving Communication During Hiring

Clear, timely and respectful communication during the hiring process can make applicants feel valued, increasing the likelihood of them accepting a job offer and staying with your company. Providing detailed feedback to applicants creates a positive candidate experience. HR tech can support you in effortlessly moving candidates through the recruitment process, informing them with automated messages as they progress and, once you’ve hired them, helping move them straight through to onboarding.


The Role of Documentation in a Streamlined Hiring Process

Proper documentation throughout the hiring process ensures transparency, provides legal protection and sets clear expectations — all contributing to better employee retention.

pro tips

Hiring tips

  • You can save yourself hours of paperwork by keeping employer details in a central user-friendly hub. Signed contracts, certifications, right to work documents can all easily be requested and found with an effective document management system. This way you always know where everything is, exactly when needed.

  • Your document management system must also keep track of expiring certificates and licenses. Deputy automatically reminds employees to update training certificates, licences and right-to-work documents before they expire.

  • Data security is also paramount. Your team’s data needs to be protected, and you need to feel confident that your hiring document management system is security compliant. Deputy is certified against ISO27001 standards for data security compliance with best-in-class encryption.

  • Your new staff member has access to all their relevant documents in one central location so they can quickly and easily check their contracts, training certifications, company handbook and any other essential documents.

Optimising Job Postings for Online Platforms

The digital age demands a solid online presence. With Deputy Hire, you can leverage online platforms to reach a wider pool of candidates while maintaining your brand identity. You can promote your job listings across the world’s leading job boards and social channels in one click.

It’s also essential to tailor the candidate experience to more modern ways of using technology — and give applicants a chance to showcase their unique personality. With a hiring platform like Deputy, you can easily tailor your application questions and allow candidates to shine with video responses. This increases your chances of finding the right fit for the role while providing a better candidate experience.

“I enjoyed the video application, as I felt confident I had the opportunity to connect with the audience and show my true self beyond the words on my CV,” says an applicant to Piccolina Gelateria, using Deputy Hire.


Effective strategies to boost employee retention can be relatively inexpensive

Throughout this ebook, we’ve explored various strategies and techniques to enhance employee retention. By creating a positive and supportive work culture, offering growth opportunities, prioritising work-life balance and well-being, establishing transparent communication channels, building solid employee-manager relationships and fostering teamwork and autonomy, you’ll be well-equipped to retain top talent.

Moreover, by streamlining your hiring process, you can ensure new employees start their journey with your company on the right foot, setting the stage for a long and productive tenure. Remember, employee retention isn’t just about keeping valuable team members; it’s about creating an environment where they thrive and contribute to your organisation’s success.

With Deputy's comprehensive workforce management solutions, you can quickly implement these strategies and create a more efficient and satisfying work environment.