We went from a retention rate of 67% to 86% — here’s our secret

March 20, 2019
How Zety boosted retention from 67% to 86%

If you are not retaining your employees, you are burning through a ton of the company’s cash.

If you are really serious about helping your organisation succeed, you need to set your best foot forward and keep your people from jumping ship.


Consider the following figures:

If you turn those numbers into something tangible, it is safe to say that replacing an employee with a salary of $60,000/year is going to cost companies about $45,000.

In today’s post, I am going to show how Zety built a high-retention environment and how you, as a leader, can build yours from scratch.

Do 1:1s regularly

65% of employees argue that they do not receive enough feedback from their superiors.

The power of feedback is staggering, and it can cause turnover rates to decrease by as much as 14.9%.

However, implementing a feedback culture into an organisation is not an easy task. You can’t introduce a feedback tool and then expect your people to use it.

That being said, there is a simple way managers could improve retention rates as well as the culture of integrity — 60-min, weekly one-on-one meetings.

Below, let’s discuss the building blocks of those:

– Consistency is key

When it comes to 1:1 sessions, the number one rule is to make them recurring as opposed to random.

Do 1:1s regularly

This will help you send a clear message to the employee that they are valued in the workplace, which will encourage them to stay for the long haul.

Now, sometimes things come up. And you will only have the time to meet with your top performers. It is totally cool, right?

You want to schedule one-on-ones with each and every team member.

Because otherwise, that would be an equivalent of saying, there are only a few people on this team that deserve my time. The others can wait for a while — no big deal.

Do you know what is going to come of that?

The engagement rate of those you met will spike whereas the morale of those people you did not meet will be blown to bits. And that will result in attrition.

– Pinpoint what’s holding them back

Successful one-on-ones are a two-way conversation.

If the employee mentions some roadblocks on their pathway to achieving their daily/weekly/quarterly goals, make sure you do everything you can to clear those obstacles.

However, instead of saying You need to do this and that, help them find a solution a solution on their own through guidance to make them more engaged.

Don’t turn your people into order-taking zombies. Make them feel like owners, and they will never want to quit.  —Piotrek Sosnowski, a Co-founder & VP at Zety.


All it takes is asking the right question: What do you suggest we do? Is there anything I can help you with?

Now, a good way to document obstacles and drive action would be to create a shared Google Docs file.

Pinpoint what’s holding them back

Here is how you can structure it to stay on top of things and have a documented history of things that need to be done

If your team members feel that you will support them when things go wrong, they’ll be happy to come forward to bring up work-related issues and brainstorm for solutions.

In turn, as a manager, you will be able to proactively clear those roadblocks taking care of your people’s problems and ultimately prevent them from jumping ship.

Invest in personal growth and development

Another important element that contributes to the retention and nurturing of talent is offering continuous training opportunities, which benefits not only the employee but the organisation as a whole.

Top performers are the future leaders of your company, and it is advisable to start mentoring them as early in their careers as possible.

But how do you approach this?

Will flying your team to Germany to attend some kind of conference make them stay with your company longer?

Probably not.
What you can do instead is ask your people how they want to develop and how you could support them in their pursuit.

At Zety, each and every employee has access to a personal development fund.

This allows our people to spend a certain amount of money on any personal development opportunities that they choose.

For example, it could be attending a local marketing conference, hosting a Google Analytics workshop, etc.

When your people know you genuinely care about them and their professional growth, they reciprocate allowing for a long-term commitment.

Pro Tip: Consider using Individual Development Plan (IDP), which is a great tool to assist employees in their both professional and personal development.

Outline career advancement opportunities

A job is attractive as long as it allows a person to develop professionally. That is why your people should have a clear idea of ​​their career opportunities within the company.

Even taking into account such factors as remuneration, position, and industry, a study run by Glassdoor showed that employees who filled the same position for too long are much more likely to switch to another company for further career growth.

One large company listed on Glassdoor solved the problem. Here is how they did it.

The high-performance employees were given access to private forums headed by the CEO, who discussed the most pressing issues facing the company.

The employees shared their thoughts and offered their solutions to the problems, which not only increased the transparency and the level of engagement but also allowed the top management to communicate with the rising stars.

At Zety, we developed a clear policy for landing a promotion within the company.

We communicate openly why someone can be promoted and when. This not only helps us create a culture of transparency but also reward those who perform exceptionally well.

So what criteria do we keep in mind when promoting our employees? There are several of them, actually.

  • Professional experience within the role.
  • Topnotch performance backed up by 2 performance reviews (we tend to avoid promoting employees based on recent wins no matter how major they might be).
  • Skillset as well as leadership/managerial skills that would match the minimum requirements to fill in the position.

Importantly, we do not tolerate promotions based on the subjective opinions of line managers. This is unfair toward the rest of the employees and is detrimental to our culture.

So if you want to retain your best specialists, you need to provide them with clear-cut career advancement opportunities and position them as future leaders as early in their careers as possible.

About the author

Max Woolf is a writer. He is passionate about helping people land their dream jobs through expert career industry coverage. In his spare time, Max enjoys biking and travelling to European countries. You can find him on LinkedIn.

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