Aaron Tian

10 Ways to Keep Employees Happy in the Age of Job-Hopping

As the number of jobs continues to outgrow job-seekers in the US, people are quitting at the highest rate since the Internet boom over 17 years ago. This is great news for people trying to advance their careers or find more pay elsewhere, but what about managers and companies who want to retain the great talent they have? Is there any way maintain employee happiness in the workplace?

The truth is that even great companies need to fight to retain the talent in their organization. If you’ve lost some top employees recently or are just trying to preempt any wandering eyes, read on about untapt’s top tips for keeping employees happy and employee retention below:


1. Set clear goals. Set big goals.

Setting goals is the first, and perhaps most vital step towards helping your employees thrive. Not only do people work up to 25% more productively when they have a clear goal in mind, they also feel more motivation to keep trying after they fail as well.

It’s important for workers to have a healthy mix of short-term, attainable goals each week as well as some long-term goals to look up to at all times. According to a groundbreaking study by psychologists Gary Latham and Edwin Locke, setting “high, hard goals” for employees made them more resilient and encouraged them over the long term. Think of the SMART acronym when setting goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

smart goals

2. Make your application/onboarding processes quick and painless.

First impressions matter. According to a survey from SHRM, 70% of employees said they were more likely to stay at a job for 3 years or more if they enjoyed the application process.

As a company, it can be worth investing in your HR team and software to make the process as efficient as possible. You want to send a message to new and prospective employees that your company is well-run, attentive and professional. This investment will return to you as employees become and stay productive for much longer periods of time.


3. Be flexible with timing.

People have been toting the death of the 9-to-5 for years now, and it may be for good reason.

Multiple studies from Stanford, Harvard and beyond have shown that work-from-home employees worked longer, harder, and more productively than those kept on a 9-to-5 schedule.  This can attributed to a lot of factors, including workplace distractions, reduction of commute time, less time needed to run chores during lunch, etc.

The 9-to-5 was first introduced over 200 years ago (for those weak on history, that’s somewhere between the first iPhone and the Spinning Jenny). Giving your employees more fluid PTO, flexible work hours and remote working options are a great way to create happier, more loyal team members.

A "Spinning Jenny" textile machine, invented 1764.
A “Spinning Jenny” textile machine, invented 1764.

4. Invest in the right technology for your team.

How annoying can it be when your employer is too stingy to get the tools you need to do your job properly? Annoying enough to quit, apparently.

Workers waste an average 520 hours a year “on repetitive services and tasks that could be easily automated,” according to a 2016 survey by Samanage. This not only holds them back from applying themselves creatively to solve problems, but is a pain point for employees who want to advance their careers and skills. Ask employees what equipment and softwares they need to work better, and do your best to deliver.


5. Use many forms of positive reinforcement.

Rewarding employees who do good work seems obvious, but are you covering the full scope?

Positive reinforcement comes in all shapes and sizes, from simple compliments and acknowledgement to monetary incentives (performances bonuses, salary reevaluations), increased responsibility/status (i.e. promotions), and even public awards or praise.

Positive reinforcement is “the most effective way of motivating staffs to perform better in organizations” according to this 2014 study. If someone is doing a great job, make it known to them on all levels.


6, Use negative reinforcements and punishment sparingly.

Discipline can be an effective short-term tool for simple goals, but relying on it to boost performance will ultimately damage your relationship with workers.

Punishment causes a variety of negative long-term effects, including increased anxiety and hostility among employees, lack of growth, isolation and more. Beyond that, it establishes unhealthy power dynamics and only works when the ‘punisher’ is around, according to according this study. In short, don’t lean on it too regularly to keep your business running.


7, Grant people access to the information they need to work.

Have you ever asked a business for help and been transferred between several people who didn’t know the answer? It’s a more common problem than you’d think.

Employees waste an average 4 hours a week trying to access the information they need (company data, analytics, passwords, etc.) This creates a disorganized, negative environment for everyone involved. Before you set employees off on their duties, make sure they have all the proper information at their disposal to do what they need to do.


8. Create opportunities for employees to give you feedback.

Many people hide their dissatisfaction or unhappiness at work for fear of repercussions. As a manager, it’s your job to undo this conditioning and create a healthy space for honest feedback.

This feedback can happen in the form of regularly scheduled meetings, anonymous company surveys, additional HR resources where necessary, and anywhere else that feels natural for your team. It can also be worthwhile to establish forums (online or in person) for peers to meet and discuss the company at large without the presence of managers or executives.


9. Ask people about their career goals. Align yourself with them.

The odds are that no matter how special your company is, most people aren’t planning to work there forever. That doesn’t mean they can’t still be loyal to the organization while advancing their own personal goals, however.

Provide your employees the resources they need to thrive, like educational stipends, opportunities to work on important projects, mentorship programs, etc. And ask them often if they’re enjoying their work and feel properly challenged. Often times people will be hired for one role and end up taking on a much different set of tasks. This sense of internal mobility is the sign of a healthy company.


10. Be fully transparent with your team.

Companies have ups and downs, this is normal. Great leaders rally their people together during tough times, while poor leaders try to manipulate them against their will.

Give your team access to the results of their work. Celebrate their successes with them, assure them when things are down, and be fully transparent about your priorities as a manager at all times. Regardless of age, experience, or status, you are all on the same team together and they are making a conscious decision to support you with their work each day. Always keep this in mind, and your team’s loyalty will reflect your generosity.


Talent is the bedrock of any company. So when you’ve finally landed on the right people to bring into your business, don’t let them slip away. If you have trouble with internal mobility or hiring, see how untapt can help, and feel free to shoot us an email at info@untapt.com. Thank you for reading, and good luck!