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Inside The Office Management

Employee Retention Strategies from Female Entrepreneurs

We asked female entrepreneurs to share their best tips for keeping employees happy, inspired and fulfilled in today's workplace. Here's what they had to say.

The last few years saw unprecedented changes to workplace culture as businesses closed, opened and went online during the pandemic. As a result, office culture and employee retention look different now.

Coffee chats and company lunches might be virtual, but employee retention is as important as ever. The Work Institute’s Retention Report estimates that it costs around 33 percent of an employee’s salary to replace them. That doesn’t even include the time, energy, and lost productivity involved in onboarding a new team member. Keeping your employees is much more cost-effective than replacing them, so we asked female entrepreneurs how. 

Start off on a good note

First, recruiting the right employees and carefully vetting applicants will save you time in the long run. You want to take time to ensure that they’re actually a good fit. Check out our guide to Hiring Tools, Platforms and Tricks and The Art of Hiring for help with this part.

Teri Shern, the Co-Founder of Conex Boxes, agrees that the beginning is the most important part. “When employees start off on a positive note, they’re much more likely to carry that positivity forward and end up enjoying the workplace,” she says. “We onboard our employees with a strong focus on their purpose within the business.”

She emphasizes the importance of showing employees how they personally fit into your business’s mission so that they feel invested in its long-term success. 

Create flexibility

Since the pandemic, employees are increasingly seeking remote options instead of traditional nine-to-fives. For many companies, flexibility is now necessary to keep employees happy and stress-free. Providing hybrid options can go a long way for employee retention.

Sylvie Coleman, Head of Marketing for Family Destinations Guide, says that “Long-term incentives have lost much of their attraction these days. Instead, there’s more emphasis on flexibility, supporting employees and creating purpose.” 

To meet these demands, Coleman’s company now offers benefits including Netflix subscriptions and mental health support. She also says that her company actually saw productivity increase with more remote opportunities. “People are more focused and can even finish the tasks earlier,” she says.

Remote or hybrid work is key to creating an equitable company culture. It provides the necessary flexibility to female employees, especially working mothers and women of color. Women and minorities prefer to work from home at much higher rates than men. Offering remote options creates opportunities for those who feel more comfortable working from home.

Offer growth opportunities

Providing opportunities for employees to grow within the company is key according to Beth Sparrow, Editor in Chief of online magazine The VIP Roll. “Provide professional growth, career advancement and skills development opportunities,” says Sparrow. She adds “investing in continued education and seminars can dramatically improve your employees’ skills and confidence. In turn, they provide higher productivity and are more engaged.”

Employees who can continue to learn and grow in their roles are more likely to stay with an organization for the long term.

“I noticed initially that I would hire people and they would outgrow their positions within a year, and move on to something else,” says Laura Rike of SimplyPintastic. “One of the biggest game-changers that stopped turnover was to find ways for the employee and the company to grow together,” she says.

Celebrate employee successes 

Appreciating employees and celebrating wins make employees feel valued. Offering incentives and bonuses can be effective ways to keep many employees engaged. They give people positive goals to work towards. And, when there’s an excuse to celebrate success, take it! Everyone loves to feel appreciated.

Dalia Katan is the CEO and Founder of a tech company called Presently, which helps facilitate workplace celebrations virtually. “Celebrations are a huge part of nurturing employee retention and building stronger relationships at work, and with 63 percent of teams at all companies spending less time socializing while remote, we’re working extra hard to make sure a spirit of celebration isn’t lost,” she says. Here are a few of Katan’s strategies for celebrating remotely:

  1. Group gifting to celebrate teammate birthdays and milestones. Have team members sign a card online together or contribute to an e-gift that gets sent right to the recipient virtually. Katan says they’ve seen the number of group gifts organized boom during these past two years for baby showers, weddings and farewells.
  2. Create dedicated time for sharing shoutouts and gratitudes during regular meetings
  3. Have a dedicated channel on Slack or Teams where teammates can post shoutouts and gratitudes.

Get creative with company fun

In an increasingly remote world, company activities aren’t as easy to plan as they used to be. But even if you can’t be in person, there are creative solutions to bring your company together. Angela Minardi, Chief Experience Officer at Fit City Adventures, which focuses on helping companies recruit, retain and engage employees, has plenty of wisdom to share on this topic. “Give people something to learn, from cooking classes to painting and planting,” she says. “Ship kits and teach them some skills so or hold remote activities so they can bond over improv or game shows. This way, they can learn about each other in new and unique ways.”

Minardi shared some other creative, actionable strategies to implement employee bonding in the remote workplace. “There are so many cool ways to use technology to make this happen in a more efficient way!” she says. She suggests holding virtual talent shows, competitions and coffee chats, coffee included. “Ship iced coffee kits and logo mugs and host a 30-minute online experience!” 

Keep salaries competitive

Let’s be honest: all of the retention events, coffee and snacks in the world won’t keep employees around if they’re not getting compensated appropriately. Money is a big reason employees choose to leave or stay.

“We pay well, and we ensure that all of our employees have more than adequate paid vacation time and monthly mental health, that in essence is another paid day off,” says Christina Russo, Creative Director of The Kitchen Community culinary hub. Even if you can’t increase salaries, perks and bonuses can be great strategies.

Competitive salaries and benefits are certainly not the only reason people stick around. Company culture and fit are also key factors. However, low pay could be the reason you lose a valuable employee who is the right fit for your company. 

Being open to reassessing compensation is key. No matter how valued an employee may feel, they are likely to look outside their current company if they feel inadequately compensated for their work.

Seek feedback often

Are your employee retention strategies working? The best people to ask are your employees. “I find it essential to constantly check how my employees are doing and how they’re coping with any organizational or situational changes so I have an efficient feedback system,” says Angela Mangrum, owner of Mangrum Career Solutions. She regularly sends out company-wide pulse surveys and conducts bi-monthly one-on-ones to check in on their wellbeing and morale.

Jennifer Kalita, a Communications Consultant at, also implements regular goal-setting and monthly check-ins. She focuses on holistic wellbeing, saying that “sometimes a goal can even include an employee pursuing a hobby or interest outside of his workaholic nature. This can avoid burnout and contribute to their overall wellness and longevity with the company.”

Employee retention relies on a combination of factors

What we heard from female business owners in this piece is that employees are looking for different things in a job than before COVID. People change jobs and careers more often than they used to, and what makes them stay is not just fair pay. Workplace culture is key. What sets companies apart now is an increased focus on flexibility and employee wellbeing. 

Read more helpful leadership tips on Lioness, including How to Effectively Lead a Remote or Hybrid Team and Addressing Employee Mental Health Issues.

About the author

Annie Clifford

Annie Clifford is an intern at Lioness Magazine. She's currently a junior at Wellesley College outside Boston and is originally from Denver, Colorado. She's studying economics and pursuing a career in marketing/communications. Annie is also passionate about writing, art, the outdoors and female entrepreneurship.

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