Retaining employees requires an ongoing focus on ensuring a culture that is aligned with employee values and that supports their needs. It’s an effort that companies of all types and sizes in all industries are focused on more now than ever. Amid what has been called the Great Resignation, focusing on retention can make a big impact.
How do you retain employees?
What’s required to retain employees?
- A strong culture that supports diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
- Hiring people with talent and value that aligns with your organization’s culture and needs, which will make them more likely to be a good fit for the organization.
- A focus on ensuring the kind of culture and climate that employees find to be supportive.
- A commitment to open and transparent communication in an environment where employees feel empowered to speak up and share their perspectives, ideas and concerns.
- A focus on using data and people analytics to monitor and learn about what employees need and value—and what drives, and hinders, engagement.
Employee retention is important in any business and social climate. Today, though, it’s more important than ever.
Why is it important to retain employees?
For most organizations, the investment they have in human resources—employees—represents a significant portion of their expenses. This is particularly true in service organizations. Too often, though, businesses aren’t as focused as they could or should be on retaining employees.
Data from the Work Institute 2020 Retention Report indicates that more than 75% of employees who quit could have been retained. The report also indicates that voluntary turnover costs now exceed $630 billion, annually.
Turnover itself can play a role in driving more turnover. “Turnover contagion” is a term used to refer to the tendency for employees to be influenced to look for new jobs themselves when their coworkers begin to do so.
It can pay big dividends to take steps to minimize turnover and boost employee retention.
10 ways to retain employees
The quest to keep top employees on board is ongoing. Stemming the tide of turnover isn’t an event or a once a year initiative. It’s an ongoing process that involves a number of strategies and tactics designed to work together to boost engagement, loyalty, and longevity. Here’s a look at what retaining employees requires.
1. Provide realistic job previews.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM )defines a realistic job preview (RJP) as: “a recruiting approach used by an organization to communicate the important aspects of the job prior to the offer of a position.” It’s really about being candid and transparent about the job and the company—both the positives and the potential negatives.
For instance, Amazon is known to be a high-paced, tough culture where employees are rewarded for high performance and pressure can be high. Some employees will thrive in that type of environment. Others won’t.
It’s important when hiring to be clear and up front about the company culture, its expectations, and what a “day in the life” of work will be for an employee joining the company.
2. Be clear about expectations.
Employees need to know what’s expected of them. What does good performance look like? What will they be rewarded for? What’s expected of them? Being specific about these expectations is important to ensure the employees will be able to make decisions and take actions that are in alignment with company goals.
The lack of clear expectations can be a key dis-satisfier for employees. Gallup studies indicate that “employees are less engaged at work when they do not have a clear understanding of what’s required of them,” writes Isaiah Atkins in an article for Business News Daily.
3. Provide prompt and constructive feedback.
We live in a fast-paced world where expectations—internally and externally—shift continually. This has been particularly true during the pandemic as businesses have had to make quick pivots to change business models and work processes.
In any environment, though, employees need prompt and constructive feedback to help them know what they’re doing well, and where they may need to adjust their efforts to produce better results.
Dr. Laura Stevens is Continuous Listening Leader at Deloitte. Her title alone points to the importance that Deloitte places on listening to employees. And for good reason. Employees who feel heard, and feel that their employers will make decisions based on their input are happier, more productive, andmore likely to stay on board.
According to Oracle, “87% of workers believe their employer should do more to listen to the needs of their workforce.”
5. Ensure pay and benefits are competitive.
It used to be that common wisdom suggested that pay and benefits weren’t the most important factor in keeping employees on board. There’s been a bit of a shift in that way of thinking during the pandemic as some research has found that, yes, pay and benefits matter.
In fact, according to SHRM: “Offering a competitive benefits package, in addition to competitive pay, reduces the likelihood an employee will find the grass greener elsewhere.”
6. Offer opportunities for training and development.
According to Talent Management: “Research shows people who work for companies that invest in resources for learning are 83 percent more likely to feel happier in their job and 94 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.”
Keep in mind that it’s not enough to just offer training. Employees must feel they have the time to participate in training. If their workload is too demanding, they may not have the time needed to invest in preparing themselves for career advancement.
7. Be generous with recognition and appreciation.
Employees want to know that their efforts are making a difference in positive ways. They won’t know unless you tell them!
They also want to be appreciated for those efforts. This can take place in small ways—a simple “thank you,” expressed verbally or in an email or, better yet, handwritten note—and larger ways—through bonuses and incentive awards, for instance.
Supervisors and managers should look for opportunities regularly to recognize their employees both privately and publicly, in formal and informal ways. A little recognition can go a long way when it comes to retaining employees.
8. Be a company that employees are proud to work for .
Today’s employees are more values-driven than ever before. This is particularly true of the younger demographics—Millennial and Gen Z. Through their ESG as a Workforce Strategy study Mercer found that ESG—environmental, social, and governance—can be a competitive advantage for companies in attracting and retaining talent.
They found that “top employers by employee satisfaction and attractiveness to talent have significantly higher ESG scores than their peers.”
Employees want to work for companies they feel good about. Your efforts to support the environment and social concerns that matter to your employees, will matter to your retention efforts as well.
9. Respect work/life balance and the need for flexibility.
In 2021, Citrix conducted a study—the Talent Accelerator—as part of their Citrix’s Work 2035 project, based on input from more than 2,000 knowledge workers and 5,00 HR directors. As reported in Harvard Business Review one of their key findings was that “employees overwhelmingly expect flexible options” at work.
In fact, “88% of knowledge workers say that when searching for a new position, they will look for one that offers complete flexibility in their hours and location.”
If you can offer that, you can gain quite an edge in the battle for employee retention.
10. Use analytics to continually monitor and measure employee perceptions.
In your retention efforts, it’s important to use data to help you identify where issues may exist—and to evaluate the potential impacts of various options for improving employee engagement and longevity.
A data-driven approach to analyzing employee turnover can empower your organization to identify why people leave and help you to boost retention.
As you become more sophisticated in your use of data, you may also be able to spot trends, and make predictions about which employees may be most at risk for departure.
Retention matters—now more than ever. Make sure you’re taking the right steps to keep talent on board, and monitoring those efforts regularly.
About the author: Visier Team
People-centered ideas and insights by the editorial team at Visier.
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