When employees quit, whatever their level, the knock-on effect can be significant. There are associated costs in hiring and training a replacement, but also morale and subsequently productivity can dip, or even plummet if several team members leave at once. Even in strong economic times, retaining employees was a challenge, but today, post-pandemic, with record numbers of people re-evaluating their working lives to the extent that “The Great Resignation” has become a phrase in 2021, retention of top talent has never been more important.
In a competitive, candidate-driven market, an organisation’s ability to keep its key performers has moved up the agenda. With even the most loyal, passive candidates being headhunted, how do companies mitigate turnover? Competitors will of course always chase the best talent, but how can you minimise people looking to leave on their own? Salary is important, of course, and ensuring that existing staff are compensated at competitive market rates removes some temptation to look elsewhere, but keeping them happy, engaged and satisfied is a better strategy.
Here are our top six tips for employee retention. The first one may be obvious after how much has changed in the world of work recently, but some of the others are often overlooked.
1. Flexible working
Remote working with flexible hours fast became the norm for many businesses during the global pandemic. Employees adapted admirably – to such an extent that the majority don’t want to return to pre-pandemic working conditions. Countless surveys over the past year have shown that employees will look to leave if their existing employer doesn’t maintain its flexible approach implemented during the pandemic. From a retention perspective, providing flexibility over hours improves employee satisfaction, which not only leads to retention, but also increases an employer’s attractiveness to top talent elsewhere, some of whom have said they are willing to take a cut in salary to secure flexible working.
Employee satisfaction, the main measure that aids retention, is improved when there are clear career opportunities ahead. Landing top talent isn’t enough – to retain them, they need to see a defined path ahead. Research shows that almost 75% of high-retention-risk employees leave because they see nowhere that they can go internally. Mentoring programmes, training and development are a crucial incentive and demonstrate an employer’s commitment to its employees. For those who consider it too expensive, remember how much it costs and how much time it can take to hire a replacement!
Employers need to walk the talk in terms of their company culture. Authenticity is very important to candidates, particularly Gen Z candidates, so values and ethics cannot be just for show. It’s not enough to have the right policies in place as a formality; employees will want to see a company’s values demonstrated, from the board downwards. In terms of retention, it proves that an organisation cares about its place in the world at large and therefore on a micro level, its employees’ wellbeing, and shared values.
All employees want to use the latest tech to enable them to do the best possible job. They want to work for an employer that is at the forefront of digital adoption rather than a dinosaur, so it’s important that an organisation frequently assesses the tools at their disposal. Tech plays a major role in a positive employee experience, right from onboarding a new member of staff, and it extends into the office environment through to support when working remotely. Providing the optimal tech to allow teams to produce their best work goes a long way towards employee satisfaction and therefore retention.
Exit interviews often show that a common factor for employees leaving is lacking a sense of belonging. While much has changed on a diversity front for the better, many employers still need to work on inclusion. Token diversity can be addressed with quotas and requirements, but inclusion can’t be faked. Employees need to be able to bring their true selves to work and feel that their voice is heard as it affects their confidence, performance and ultimately their job satisfaction. Incorrectly, employers often think D&I policies only apply to employees from minorities, however, any employee witnessing discrimination of any kind is likely to think less of their company and potentially look for an employer with stronger values more aligned to their own.
Sometimes, staff retention can come down to something as simple as communication. Recognition, even if in the form of verbal positive feedback, can boost employee engagement and overall team morale. Communicating and celebrating wins can be part of a larger incentives programme too, which all enhance the employee journey and improve retention.
Six things we believe can not only cut down turnover, but also make employees feel happy and valued. In the same way that a disgruntled unhappy employee is often more vocal and can tarnish an employer’s reputation when they leave, satisfied staff often become a company’s talent ambassadors. As they share their positive feelings about their employers, their work environment, and their colleagues, they unwittingly help attract the next wave of talent to an organisation.