4 Musts for Retaining Employees

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A flurry of resignations hits your HR department or you could be facing an epidemic of employees that have “quit and stayed.” These are employees who feel trapped (and perhaps even miserable) at their organizations, but are afraid to leave or explore the job market.

These are two common scenarios that many organizations are experiencing this year. Retention of great talent has become a major issue affecting a number of organizations. Before your organization hastily decides to launch a series of HR initiatives to address your retention problems, look first to these four areas of your business.

1. Look at their job

When faced with the red flag of potential turnover, take a hard look at their job first. Is the job playing to their strengths? Could the employee be used in more productive ways that would improve their engagement and is their job naturally progressing with more responsibility and challenge? Most employees need to feel a sense of importance in their work – that their skills and abilities are being put to good use, that they are doing something meaningful with their time, and that they have a say in decisions and how their work is produced. Consistently ranked as the most important attribute among top performers and a key driver of engagement, there is no substitute for making challenging and meaningful work the first priority when solving a retention problem. The job is usually the best place to start.

2. Look at their manager

Employees leave managers, not organizations. Employees are more likely to stay when they are treated in a supportive manner by their boss. In fact, this concept of feeling supported has been time-tested and is consistently found to be the leading indicator of whether employees stay engaged and committed. Support is most commonly manifested in how managers interact with their employees – whether employees are receiving the right amount of interaction and flexibility, the resources they need, help solving problems, and recognition and appreciation. So ask yourself: do employees have a positive relationship with their supervisor and do they feel supported by them in their job, career, and even personally? Consider whether the employee’s manager is doing everything they can to support employees and make them feel valued and confident in themselves.

3. Look at their opportunities

Numerous studies link the relationship between confidence and retention. Generally-speaking, employees will leave their employers for other opportunities. The more confident employees are in their prospects for continued employment and advancement opportunities, and their ability to earn more pay over time, the more likely they are to stay. You can help build a sense of confidence by emphasizing the organization’s success and long-term strategy and discussing advancement opportunities and career paths periodically. The bottom line is that you must give employees confidence that their career will thrive at your organization and that you are prepared to offer those opportunities.  Many organizations fear committing to providing a certain career path to their employees. The reality is that if you don’t, some other organization will.

4. Look at your competitors

Even when the job, manager, and opportunities are aligned with retention, sometimes competitors’ practices snatch a great performer. With pay information publically available on the internet to employees, an influx of passive recruiting via social media, and more employers heavily branding their workplace and culture as great places to work, your organization is constantly at risk of losing its best people. If your organization has fallen behind in terms of making sure its pay and benefits align with those of other businesses, make sure it stacks up before it’s too late. Get to know your competitors’ HR practices intimately and adjust yours if it makes sense.

Contrary to most popular beliefs, retention usually isn’t complex. It’s not a complicated formula requiring a multitude of HR initiatives. It usually comes down to whether employees are doing challenging and interesting work, being supported by their boss, seeing opportunities and security, and receiving fair pay and benefits in comparison to what is offered elsewhere.

Additional Resources

Talent & Performance Management Consulting Services
When it comes to managing talent retention, there are a variety of programs and initiatives to consider including employee engagement surveys, performance management, rewards and recognition programs, succession planning, mentoring and career development programs, job description updates, and exit interviews. To learn more about how ERC can assist you with these consulting projects, please contact consulting@yourerc.com.