How to retain your employees

Finding staff is challenging enough as it is. But after you have hired the ideal employee, how do you engage them and keep them loyal? Check these tips for being a good employer to keep your staff happy, healthy, and productive. From social and green employment conditions to personal extras.

One in 20 Dutch people changed jobs in 2022. 60% of these job changers had been in their previous job for less than 2 years (source: Statistiscs Netherlands, 2023). Job-hopping is a big problem for employers, especially now that staff are in short supply. How do you keep people on board? Research shows that a raise, company car, or state-of-the-art phone will not do the trick (source: GITP). So what will? 

Employment conditions

Offer attractive employment conditions  

The key to employee engagement and loyalty is good primary employment conditions. Pay your employees a salary package tailored to their needs, offer flexible rewards for outstanding results or let employees choose working hours and a leave balance that suits their family situation.

You can stand out from other employers by offering flexible secondary employment conditions. Examples include a good pension, a travel expense allowance, a year-end bonus, a company phone, the ability to work from home, and informal care leave. 

Consider green and social employment conditions

You can also engage your employees by offering them green and social working conditions. For example, you can award extra days off if your employees go on holiday by bike or train. Or offer them a company e-bike. A number of financial schemes make cycling to work not just healthy, but also financially attractive. You can also support your employee if they make their home more sustainable. You can use the Work-related costs scheme (Wkr) for this.

Reward with personal extras 

Talk to your employees and ask them how you could increase their job satisfaction. This could be anything: 

  • arranging and paying for temporary housing. 
  • providing games, a table tennis table, or a dartboard in the workplace. 
  • setting up a meditation, yoga, prayer, or power nap space.
  • allowing employees to pick a charity to donate to or organise a volunteer day for once a year.
  • a gym membership or subscription to Netflix, a local cinema, a newspaper, a magazine, or a trade journal. 
  • allowing employees to use company resources privately. 
  • lending employees a car or tools to help them move. 

Help with financial problems

The number of people with financial problems is rising, due to inflation and high energy prices. Do you suspect your employees are in financial problems, for example because they request a salary advance? This is what you can do as an employer (in Dutch). 

Show your corporate social responsibility 

To Dutch employees (in Dutch), it is increasingly important to work for an employer who cares about corporate social responsibility (csr, or mvo in Dutch). Employers who try to stop environmental pollution, switch to sustainable energy, and offer good working conditions are more attractive. 

Offer retraining or up-skilling opportunities  

Offer your employees relevant online training courses or webinars. This will increase engagement. Employers can reimburse employees for study or development expenses tax-free. When you file your tax return, deduct these expenses from your profit. The payroll tax handbook (in Dutch) explains exactly how this works. Draw up a personal development plan together and write down what you agree upon.  

Keep your employees fit  

Help your employees stay fit and healthy (in Dutch). Not only will they be happier, but it will boost their productivity too. Research shows that a 6-hour working day at home is just as taxing as an 8-hour day in the office. So give employees the chance to regularly take a break from their screen.  

Be flexible 

In the video on ‘Loyal employees’, Nynke Hoogma and Barbara Bolle explain why they stay with their employer. To Hoogma, flexibility is important. Her employer lets her work from abroad several months a year. This year, she was based in Bonaire. “Getting this level of freedom and trust feels great.” In the video, Bolle says that her employer is open to her suggestions. In the mornings, she starts an hour later so that she could drop her children off at school first. “They are all minor adjustments, but they have had a huge impact on my job satisfaction.” See what other tips Hoogma and Bolle have. 

These employees stay with their boss. This is why.

Offer a contract sooner  

Satisfied with a new staff member? Consider offering them an open-ended contract sooner. Doing so is a token of appreciation and offers job security. The introduction of the Balance Employment Market Act (WAB) has made it more attractive for employers to hand out open-ended contracts. The aim of the act is to strike a better balance between permanent and flexible staff.  

Employment conditions 

Set up good onboarding 

Set up a good onboarding process. “Your onboarding process should be as unique and personal as possible”, according to Fantistics co-founder Donja van Laarhoven. “Employees will decide whether they are enjoying themselves and feel connected to your company in their first month.” Make sure you have a good onboarding schedule and have your new hire meet their new colleagues and all the departments. Organise informal introduction sessions and have a nice little gift with a personal message delivered on the first day. Regularly check in with the new employee, so you can make adjustments where necessary. There are lots of ways to set up an onboarding process, such as an app, a buddy, or an onboarding coach.  

Provide safe and healthy working conditions 

Make sure that employees have a comfortable home office and good equipment to prevent chronic disease. Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) and other occupational injuries are a particularly big risk. The easiest way to prevent them is to give employees equipment like a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and an office chair. 

Provide a coach or confidential adviser 

Provide coaches that employees can talk to if they run into problems. The internal job coach scheme helps chronically ill employees, disabled employees, and employees in a probationary posting.  Employees can also encounter unpleasant situations at work, such as (sexual) intimidation, aggression, or bullying. A confidential adviser offers employees a safe environment to tell their story. The confidential adviser can also help the employee find potential solutions. 

Company culture and working atmosphere  

Extra focus on work satisfaction 

It almost goes without saying, but employees prefer working at a company with a good atmosphere. Satisfied employees perform better, are ill less often, and stay with your organisation for longer. It will save you costs. So invest in your employees’ happiness.   

Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do. Organise drinks meetings and company outings. Celebrate personal milestones such as weddings and births, and commiserating with employees struggling with deaths in the family, a divorce, or an illness. And give your employees autonomy: more freedom and flexibility to arrange their work themselves.  

Give responsibility and freedom 

"Try to avoid a rigid top-down hierarchy", advises Allard Droste, owner of metal processing company Aldowa. Let employees do what they do best and what they enjoy. Muster the courage to take a step back (in Dutch) and give your employees as much ownership and challenges as possible. Employees are not just motivated by money: they also care about purpose, skills, and autonomy. This way, your employees will feel a sense of shared responsibility.  

Talk to your employees more often 

Talk to your employees about their performance and development wishes on a regular basis. This will keep them committed and lower the risk of absenteeism. You can use a recurring performance review to do this, but also ask your employees how they are doing in between official reviews. Asking your employees what they want to learn or achieve, and how you can help them, keeps them motivated.  

Create an open culture  

“Employees perform better when they work in a culture of trust, safety, and transparency”, says organisational consultant Peter Nientied. Many employees want feedback on their performance so they can continue to learn. But they also want to give feedback to others, to grow together. Invite employees to give open and honest feedback. And then respond to their feedback positively. Make changes based on feedback or allow employees to experiment based on their feedback and suggestions. They will quickly realise that you value their feedback.  

Show your appreciation  

Giving your staff compliments pays off. They improve your collaboration, motivate employees to perform better, and boost their work satisfaction. It makes your employees take pride in their work and the organisation. Express your appreciation to them and share successes.  

Conduct an exit interview  

If an employee leaves your company anyway, hold an exit interview (in Dutch) as part of the offboarding process. This will let you collect open and honest feedback. This information is golden and can help you provide a better experience for current and future employees.