Keeping employees happy should be high on any company’s list of priorities. It may seem logical to focus on providing a nice work environment and building your brand as a good employer. But those alone aren’t enough to keep top talent engaged, especially in the wake of The Great Resignation.
To stay competitive and keep your company growing, you’ll need to invest in specific employee retention strategies.
In this article, we’ll talk about why employers are struggling with employee turnover and why you should prioritize retention. We’ll also share which strategies you can apply to recruit and keep employees.
Why it’s hard to retain top talent
The Great Resignation is a result of shifts in the way we do business. The pandemic sped up the digital transformation already in progress, opened up new opportunities, and reframed the way people think about their careers.
Employees are leaving their old jobs, gravitating toward the benefits that came along with all this change, including:
- More virtual work opportunities. The rise in remote work capabilities means employees can look for bigger and better jobs in a wider market.
- More flexibility. Re-evaluation of personal needs as work and home life overlap means employees are increasingly looking for flexible work situations and less stress.
- More recognition. People want to know they’re valued by employers. After massive layoffs in some industries during the pandemic, many are hesitant to jump back into positions where they felt unappreciated.
You may be tempted to think this is just a matter of the grass being greener somewhere else, and the solution is just to replace employees who leave with new talent. But your best bet is to focus on retaining those you already have. Here’s why.
Knowing how to reduce employee turnover is critical
Most companies understand the immediate financial impact of hiring new employees. But the actual costs go beyond payroll and benefits. You also need to factor in the loss in time and productivity due to learning curves as you bring new employees up to speed (and as fellow employees are pulled off their jobs to train or assist).
If people are leaving, it means they’re dissatisfied with their jobs. And the majority of those looking around for new opportunities cite concerns other than pay as the top reasons they’re ready to walk away (more on that in the next section).
As mentioned above, people are looking for jobs that offer benefits that go beyond pay. If you can provide a quality work experience, you’ll not only save your company from taking the financial hit of losing good workers. You’ll also maintain momentum and boost productivity.
5 strategies to help you attract and retain employees
A recent study found that the top reasons people consider leaving a job include toxic work culture, job insecurity, and a lack of recognition from employers. Salary concerns weren’t even in the top five predictors of employee turnover.
If you want to build a company with a future, you need to know how to get and hold onto top performers. Here are five strategies you can implement now.
1. Create an environment of inclusion
A negative work experience has a big impact on employee attitudes. People want a workplace where they feel their voices are heard and respected. Help them out by building a culture of inclusion.
Offer training around what inclusion is, how to recognize and overcome biases, and how to communicate respectfully. Update policies as needed to make it clear that you won’t tolerate harmful behaviors like bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Then educate people on those policies, and spell out the processes for how any issues they report will be resolved.
Employees won’t always speak up about toxic work environments, so be proactive in keeping things positive. Employees will be happier if they feel safe and accepted at work.
2. Provide employee development opportunities
You can help employees feel confident in their jobs by providing skills training. Offer courses in the technical skills they need for their current roles as well as those that will prepare them for future roles.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of workplace training. When it comes to employee retention, training is a great tool for engaging people. It assures them you’re invested in their careers. And it qualifies them for promotion when new roles open up, saving you the hassle of finding new talent externally.
3. Offer career planning
Show employees that they have a future with your organization by helping them plan for it. Include career goals in one-on-one performance reviews with their managers. Listen to what they are concerned about and their hopes for where they want to be a few years down the road.
Don’t stay in the theory, though.
Work together to create a roadmap. Direct them to training options that will develop the skills they need. Set goals that managers can review with them regularly. Let your talent know you support their goals so your company will be a part of their long-term plans.
4. Train people in soft skills
People don’t need only technical knowledge to succeed in the workplace. According to recent research from TalentLMS and SHRM, the top skills that matter to employees and employers right now are “soft skills.” These are the skills people need to work together and be more productive. They include things like leadership, problem-solving, collaboration, and critical thinking.
When people don’t have the skills to adapt to new ways of working or to work well with others, productivity drags, and employees get frustrated. Include soft skills training to prepare your people to succeed.
You might also consider offering training on soft skills related to wellbeing. Teach courses in things like coping with stress, mindfulness, and time management so employees can create and maintain a healthy work-life balance and prevent burnout.
Employees feel more satisfied with their job when they have all the skills they need to navigate the workplace.
5. Prioritize praise and recognition
It’s important to show employees you value them and their work. But don’t forget the power of actually telling people how valued they are. In a recent employee survey, 37% of employees said the biggest driver of productivity for them is personal recognition from their employer.
There are a lot of ways to build recognition in the work environment. For instance:
- Offer leadership training courses that teach managers and supervisors how to communicate well and give honest praise.
- Include a “things gone well” discussion in quarterly and annual performance reviews.
- Implement formal recognition programs that highlight employees who go above and beyond.
- Offer small perks (gift cards, a team lunch) as recognition for when employees hit their goals.
Make it clear that you appreciate the people who work with you, and they’ll be motivated to keep giving you top efforts.
Keep top talent by “walking the talk”
It’s not enough just to advertise that you’re a good employer if you want to build up your talent pool. In this era of fluid work opportunities, employees are looking for fulfilling jobs and benefits that support a healthy work-life balance. You can attract the best candidates by promoting your great work culture. But you also need to follow through by walking the talk if you want to keep them.
When you proactively implement strategies aimed at retaining employees, you’ll create a sustainable environment that will serve you for years to come. You won’t have to worry about flashy gimmicks or constant pay negotiations.
Instead, employees will see the value in sticking with you, and your company will thrive as you adapt to new ways of working. Whatever they may be.
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