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Employee Retention and How to Conquer It

Posted by Rick Lepsinger September 20, 2018

engaged and happy employees

The most successful companies ultimately rely on good talent to drive business success. Without engaged and productive employees, companies will struggle to achieve their goals and meet the challenges of the future. Research has shown that only a little more than 60 percent of employees are highly or moderately engaged. Lower levels of engagement traditionally contribute to higher rates of turnover, which can absolutely cripple an organization.

But having an engaged workforce doesn’t necessarily make a company immune to turnover. Millennials make up a larger share of the workforce than ever before, and they’ve already earned a reputation as “job hoppers,” with 91 percent of them not expecting to stay in one place for more than three years. If a position doesn’t match their personal needs and goals, they’ve demonstrated a willingness to move on in search of better opportunities.

Losing employees to turnover means that valuable time, money, and resources will need to be spent to replace them. If an organization doesn’t have a strong succession pipeline in place, this process can present huge challenges. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies companies can put in place to help drive engagement and improve retention rates.

Provide Benefits That Are Highly Regarded

While employees are not always motivated primarily by compensation, offering a good benefits package can often make the difference in where they want to work. With healthcare costs continuing to rise, many employees regard competitive health insurance plans not as a benefit, but a necessity. Matching retirement fund plans are also highly regarded, even by younger people entering the workforce. Offering to contribute towards continuing education is another valuable benefit that many employees will not be quick to give up simply to pursue a slightly higher salary elsewhere.

But benefits don’t have to be strictly financial. For many of today’s employees, especially Millennials, establishing a healthy work-life balance is more important to them than their financial earnings. Offering flexible work hours, the option to work from home, or even unlimited vacation that gives them the ability to live their lives while still excelling at their jobs is an attractive benefit.

Emphasize Training and Development

Today’s employees want to learn. They want to have the opportunity to develop new skills and take on new challenges that allow them to grow. In fact, this desire to learn and grow is one of the primary reasons people leave a company in the first place. Keeping people locked in the same position doing the same work can lead to feelings of stagnation.

Organizations can avoid this by offering ongoing training and development opportunities. Holding career discussions with employees can help them see what potential career paths are available to them. Creating a professional development plan (PDP), for example, empowers employees to identify their career options and determine what learning resources within the organization can help them to reach their goals.

Effective employee assessment strategies can identify high-potential candidates and provide them with the resources they need to prepare for future leadership roles. Mentoring and coaching opportunities can also help employees feel more valued while also strengthening relationships within the organization. While providing training and development may enable some people to leave for an outside position, it also ensures that there will be a strong pool of internal candidates to take their place.

Give and Ask for Feedback

The days of one-way communication between managers and employees are rapidly coming to an end. With organizational structures in many industries flattening to eliminate communication barriers, companies can no longer afford to limit discussions with employees to annual reviews. Many people entering the workforce today not only want extensive feedback on their performance, they expect it. They regard this feedback as crucial to their professional development.

Today’s employees also want to contribute to improving their workplace. Company’s can use surveys, Town Hall meetings, or periodic one-on-one conversation to provide employees with  the opportunity to share their thoughts about the way the company operates. These conversations create a supportive work environment where employees feel included, heard, and valued, which helps to boost engagement.

Build a Healthy Work Culture

Organizational culture plays a huge role in both hiring and retention. Every company has a distinctive culture that defines its values, expectations, and processes. When employees are comfortable within this culture, they are more likely to have greater job satisfaction, produce higher quality work, and be more engaged overall. Being a part of a healthy culture encourages them to see themselves as partners with the organization and committed to a set of common values and goals.

Unhealthy work cultures, however, are divisive environments that breed hostility and distrust between employees or between employees and leadership. These toxic workplaces are undermined by low morale and a lack of collaboration, which quickly results in high turnover rates. Additionally, Millennials increasingly expect the cultural attitudes of their workplace to reflect a more diverse and inclusive society. Restrictions that make people feel like they’re not accepted for who they are at work can drive them to look for a better work environment elsewhere.

Retention is a critical concern for every organization, but fortunately there are many strategies for ensuring that promising employees don’t seek better opportunities elsewhere. Luckily, most of these strategies have the added benefit of driving better levels of engagement, which enhances productivity and drives innovation. Investing in retention isn’t merely about making sure people don’t leave; it’s more about making the workplace an engaging and exciting place that employees want to be a part of.

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Topics: employee engagement, incentive programs

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