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5 key ways to improve employee retention

The success and longevity of a company doesn’t stem from products alone. After all, products are the direct result of devoted, hard-working employees.

The trick is making sure you have the system in place to develop your employees into a devoted team. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the manufacturing industry averages a turnover rate of 30%, and the median tenure for machinery manufacturing is 5.5 years.

By fostering increased engagement and employee satisfaction through focused efforts and programs, you can improve employee retention, and in turn, improve your business. 

Here are a few tried and true tips to increasing employee retention:

  • On-demand learning. Consider streamlining your training process through an online service that allows employees to learn on a schedule that works for them. This can be particularly useful for compliance training, saving everyone time. As for additional training beyond the basics, think about what would benefit your team. Have they requested anything that would be useful for them?

    • Milbank tip: Some of the specific learning opportunities provided to our team include custom Microsoft Excel training (which they specially requested) and access to courses about the products they are making, including information on product applications and its role in the market.

  • New opportunities and growth. If an employee’s learning needs go beyond what you have to offer, help employees get what they need through outside offerings. This could mean gaining new skills—maybe learning a new software, improving on what they can already do or exploring new avenues. Or, more formally, have them look for college coursework that relates to their position. (If you’re encouraging your team to pursue learning that will take their work to the next level, also consider tuition reimbursement for those opportunities that will help them and you!)

  • Improving morale. Small steps can go a long way to showing you value your employees. Listen to their suggestions and provide a platform where they can speak to senior leadership. Take steps to make sure your facility is up to date. Renovated bathrooms, a new breakroom or even new options in vending machines help employees see you are investing in them.

  • Career path and coaching. When new positions open up, think about the work force you already have and who could fill those spots through internal promotions. Giving employees advancement opportunities is a huge benefit that assures them if they work hard, you’ll recognize their abilities and what they’ve done. In addition, make sure managers are giving regular feedback. An annual performance review is not going to cut it. Regular reviews and check-ins will keep employees more engaged and allow feedback to happen sooner.

  • Peer-to-peer training. Give the employees involved in the process a voice in the process. One tactic is having employees create guides that document the important steps and key points in a process they do to help train others how to do it too. Another is having employees become official trainers of certain processes, which improves overall training on the team and reduces quality issues. This also allows for team members to train on new equipment and get folded into new processes more easily. These two approaches give employees more ownership—if they see a deficiency in the process, for example, they could work to update guides and train others on the new process.


‚ÄčTaking the time to keep employees engaged with their work while providing opportunities to grow and advance in their positions leads to better retention. Consider that 50% of Milbank’s workforce has given more than 10 years of service and our turnover rate is in the single digits. Seemingly small steps can pay big dividends. Remember to invest in the people who invest in your products, making for happier, healthier teams all around.