Are Your Employees Leaving? Here’s How to Master Employee Retention

March 12, 2019
| ByJulia Pinzler

A combination of falling unemployment numbers and an increase in job availability have combined to cause a perfect storm for human resources departments across the country. In fact, workplace turnover is three percentage points higher than it was in 2014 — hovering at a record high of 19.3 percent as employees continue to change jobs at an unprecedented pace.

At the crux of the issue of employee retention is the Millennial generation, the most likely group to indulge in job-hopping. A recent Gallup poll noted that 60 percent of this demographic are open to new job possibilities — a full 15 percentage points more than their non-Millennial coworkers.

Part of this prevailing attitude is due to the group’s low level of workplace engagement. Among Millennials, 55 percent are not engaged, and 15 percent are actively unengaged — a startling figure. However, blame can’t be placed entirely on Millennial ennui when a flagging corporate culture, lack of incentives, and lack of leadership also figure into the equation.

To manage the significant retraining costs encountered when employees leave for greener pastures, HR departments are striving to increase employee retention. Fortunately, there are many ways to tackle this issue, beginning with getting the basics under control.

The Basics of Keeping Your Employees Engaged

To trim company turnover rates and keep employees engaged and working toward internal goals, HR departments must focus holistically on employee needs. This means going well beyond simple benefits packages and reaching to the core of what motivates the modern workforce. Creating an inclusive culture, modernizing benefits, and providing purposeful rewards are strategic ways to keep employees engaged — and invested — in their workplace.

  1. Focus on Culture

For a start, company culture must be defined on paper. Doing so puts guidelines in place for HR personnel to use when screening prospective candidates and supports managers and team leaders in daily operations. Written guidelines help the HR team select candidates who are a good fit for the company’s culture, resulting in higher job satisfaction, lower turnover, and a more efficient team.

However, culture isn’t only about guidelines. It’s also about re-examining employee needs to build a comfortable environment that promotes wellbeing. In this case, an audit to discover what employees consider important to job satisfaction is critical to building a strong, inclusive, team-building culture.

  1. Coach Management on Leadership

Companies often struggle with low retention as a result of weak management. Team leaders that overwork, undervalue, or fail to motivate their subordinates cause a plummet in productivity and often, a loss of staff.

To prevent this, develop guidelines to ensure that management remains flexible, positive, and employee-oriented while meeting internal and external corporate goals. Oversight is crucial for success — guidelines are only useful if they’re being followed, so a system of checks and follow-ups with company leadership is essential for success.

  1. Provide Meaningful Rewards

To jumpstart engagement, companies should consider revamping their rewards system to cover four major areas: benefits, compensation, appreciation, and recognition. Benefits and compensation in today’s world go beyond salaries, health care, and vacation time. More companies are taking stock of employee interests and needs and catering directly to them.

Things like creative wellness and fitness packages, walk-and-talk meetings versus those in formal office settings, mental health benefits, life coaching, and even coffee breaks can help increase cohesiveness and promote wellbeing. Still, many companies find it easier to get the first two parts of the perfect rewards programs right but struggle when it comes to appreciation and recognition — losing the loyalty of their staff in the bargain.

Implementing these strategies needn’t be difficult. First, decide which behaviors are critical to company success. Then, provide acknowledgment and recognition to employees that epitomize these behaviors. Moreover, they can be offered on an individual or team basis, whichever is more in alignment with corporate culture.

Bold Moves for a New HR Landscape

Times are changing, and HR departments must learn to pivot along with them — or risk bearing the burden of costly employee turnover. Focusing on these three major areas of concern — culture, managers, and rewards — can go a long way toward increasing employee engagement, encouraging loyalty, and ensuring that employees remain productive, incentivized, and happy.

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