The unemployment is at record lows - great news for employees, but tough for employers trying to hang onto a steady workforce. Every month, approximately 3 million Americans quit their jobs in search of finding something better. This turnover is extremely expensive; costing an employer double an employee's salary to replace them when they quit (of course, that cost varies across industries).
Consider the employees you have working for you who have mission-critical skills that your business relies on, employees who have reinvented their job or who are such an anchorperson that the thought of them leaving terrifies you. Did you know that 25% of employees are of this nature - what you might consider "high-risk" when it comes to retention. I know you know who those people are too, and you would be in a world of hurt if you lost them tomorrow!
So how do you win the employee retention battle? How do you keep from losing your employees in this kind of job market?
To keep your amazing employees working for you, consider trying these retention strategies:
1. Salary and Benefits Need to Be Competitive
Now is it always about the money? Absolutely not. In a recent Glassdoor survey where HR managers and talent acquisition managers were interviewed, they found that 45% of employees who quit expressed that the top reason was salary. Coming in as close seconds were career advancement opportunities, better benefits, and location.
After seeing that statistic, you’d be forgiven if you thought that the easiest fix for employee retention concerns would seem to be to offer more money and more benefits. No doubt these are two top issues that employers must consider, and for some employees, that would be necessary.
However, seeing this as the only option is a knee-jerk reaction that can cost your business more than it can afford. Salary and benefits are important and should be considered—especially if you are paying below industry standards—but there are other methods to retain employees than costly raises and benefits.
2. Hire the Right Person at the Beginning
This isn't easy, which is one of the reasons I'm sure you are taking time to read this article. Recent studies have revealed that 35% of those doing the hiring of new employees are doing so with the expectation that more employees will be quitting in the coming months. WHOA!
It's disheartening to know that those doing the hiring are already envisioning over one-third of their hires walking out the door.
I'd say that a combination of having an in-depth hiring process as well as on-boarding would result in more employees staying with the organization because they feel cared for.
Make sure you’re being honest about what you expect of the new hire. Don’t hide or sugar-coat aspects of the job just to get a person to bite or you need to meet metrics for hiring. Transparency is key in finding the right employees. Take the time to tell them about the culture, their daily job, their co-workers (without naming names) and their boss. People WANT to know and NEED to know what they are getting into.
3. Have LEADERS, not bosses/managers
Few people want to be leaders, but everyone wants to be the boss. Remember, though, that people follow leaders, while they leave bosses. A boss is a dime a dozen while leaders are rare.
Do you want to keep your employees? Then you need to actively engage your employees. Make sure you lay out clear directions for the future; have the ability to handle changes; believe in the importance of people - they're your number one asset; and inspire confidence instead of passive-aggressive frustration.
So how do you be a good leader instead of just a boss?
Be available for your employees. Don't just say you have an "open-door policy". Invite criticism and feedback. This is part of being a GREAT leader.
4. Encourage Employee Engagement
According to a Gallup poll, 56% of somewhat engaged and 73% of actively disengaged employees are actively seeking a new job.
READ THAT AGAIN.
That ought to get any employer’s attention.
Your first response shouldn't be to blame the employees for distraction as their reason for disengagement; as distraction is associated with motivation issues. As an employer, you need to understand WHAT motivates people to want to become fully engaged with the work they do. So what DOES motivate most people to stay at their jobs?
I've found, and other studies have shown, that those who are highly engaged in learning are also engaged at work. You should be helping your employees to grow and expand, not simply get better at what they already do. If your employee training programs rely solely on increasing performance in a current role, you’re missing the point. What you should be doing to retain your employees and get them to engage more is: encourage cross-training, mentorships, and create a set of plans that shows employees where they can go within the company.
Good employees (the ones who are dedicated to your company—the ones you really want to keep) want the opportunity to advance, not just maintain momentum.
Think about this: How hard will you work if you know you’re only going to be treading water, instead of advancing your career? Why wouldn’t you start looking for a new job if you’re someone who is motivated by achievement?
People have a “deep desire to feel they’re succeeding and that their talents and capabilities are being used in a way that makes a difference to the business” (per Entreprenuer).
So don't just provide them a few opportunities - give feedback and show them the results of their hard, well-intentioned work!
5. Be a Brand They Are Proud to Represent
This is an age of activism, with Gen Z wanting every aspect of their lives to be part of a solution instead of a problem. Be a business KNOWN for the positives, KNOWN for your community involvement.
Find a way that your business can fit such a reputation. You might have to turn your business reputation on its head. For example, maybe you are an auto shop that donates to environmental activities, or is known for your eco-friendly policies regarding your waste. Perhaps you run a bagel shop that regularly donates its' days food to homeless shelters.
Employees who are passionate and care about the impact their lives have on the world will consider working for a positive-branded business a great benefit.
Just remember that your employees aren’t machines, chugging along only for a paycheck. Most of them care about where they work, how they work, and who they work with. When competing in a tight job market, it’s important to keep that in mind instead of getting in an wage bidding war that could wipe out your bottom line.