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5 Retention Strategies to Support Diverse Workforces

If you have a diversity recruitment plan, it will go a long way toward increasing the representation of employees from untapped backgrounds in your organization. However, if you also have a high attrition rate, no amount of diversity recruiting you do is going to make any difference in the long run, which will render all of your efforts to be in vain. A leaky bucket of talent that drips out of your company as quickly as it was poured in will not only derail your diversity recruiting goals, it will also amount to a great deal of wasted time, effort, and money trying to chase initiatives that never work.

It's not enough to just hire talent from underrepresented backgrounds; you have to keep it to make strides toward meeting your DEI goals. And that means creating an environment that employees from historically marginalized groups want to continue working in. The following are five retention strategies your organization can adopt to support a diverse workforce and plug any leaks in your bucket.

Diverse Workforce Retention Strategies 

1. Create a Retention Plan 

You wouldn’t start working toward attracting talent from underserved communities without a roadmap, so you also need a specific plan in place to retain them. A retention plan can go a long way toward keeping the talent you’ve hired, but it’s important to remember it needs to be individualized because all employees have different needs—even employees within the same demographic. This plan should include conducting a series of “stay interviews” at least twice a year, which involves finding out what employees’ expectations are and what the organization can do to meet them. Whether they want more money, opportunities for growth, or work flexibility, companies should find out what matters most to workers from untapped backgrounds and create individual goals for keeping each of them. 

2. Fine-Tune the Recruitment Process 

Since the first interaction candidates have with your organization is during the recruitment process, you need to ensure it leaves a good impression so it’s clear you’re fostering an inclusive environment for all workers. To help fine-tune your recruitment process, start with providing bias training for all employees so they can examine the conscious and unconscious biases they hold toward different groups. This will help everyone, especially hiring managers, understand how their beliefs impact the way they view groups of workers, so they can make strides to correct those ideas and treat all employees with fairness and respect. 

In addition, companies should look at their hiring process from start to finish to determine if there are improvements that need to be made. If candidates from historically underrepresented communities drop off at certain places in the hiring funnel, investigate what is happening and correct the problems. For example, if a lot of candidates drop off during the interview stage, look at ways to standardize interviews so all candidates are asked the same questions, which will prevent biases from creeping into the process.   

3. Understand Turnover

Do you know why employees from underrepresented communities leave your company? Just as stay interviews can help you understand what employees need to retain them, exit interviews can provide valuable information about why workers chose to leave. Be sure to use an outside firm for these interviews because making them anonymous removes concerns about getting an employment recommendation, so people will feel free enough to be honest in their assessments. 

4. Provide Inclusive Onboarding

Since the first six months are the most crucial period when it comes to retaining employees, you need an onboarding program that is welcoming and sets up talent for long-term success at your organization. Instead of making this a time for just filling out paperwork and throwing new hires into the cultural waters to sink or swim, use the onboarding period to truly integrate them into the workforce and train them on what it takes to thrive at your company.  

5. Provide Avenues for Growth

If your company isn’t providing equal opportunities for advancement, you’re not going to retain employees from untapped groups. To avoid this pitfall, provide a path for advancement for all workers, and give them the tools they need to achieve their goals. Provide training opportunities so employees’ skills and knowledge continuously grow and prepares them to move up the ladder in your organization. Also, mentoring from managerial staff, particularly those who are members of underserved communities, gives workers an understanding of what success looks like and how they can achieve it. 

Attracting talent from historically marginalized communities is important, but it won’t help you reach your goals unless you avoid creating a leaky bucket of turnover that sabotages your efforts. These five retention strategies can help you create the diverse workplace you want, and ensure you become an employer people want to work for long term. 

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