Employee retention isn’t just a human resources challenge, it’s also a business one—the cost of employee turnover has now cracked a whopping 13-digit milestone. According to research from Gallup , U.S. businesses have a $1 trillion problem. Emboldened by a strong economy and record-low unemployment rates, risk-taking workers are quitting their jobs en masse.
Employee age is also a big factor when it comes to employee retention. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the median employee tenure for wage and salary workers is about four years. But for those between 25 and 34 years old, it’s less than three.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to retain employees. After all, Gallup also found more than half of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs to report that their bosses or companies could have prevented their exit. The following are ways organizations and managers can invest in their employees and retain top talent.
1. Employee Retention and Engagement Starts at the Leadership Level
If there was an award for the most-used human resources buzzword, “employee engagement” might win. But that hasn’t always been the case. Mulligan says that when his company first started publishing the report 15 years ago, it predominantly canvassed administrators involved in recruitment and training.
2. Really Listen to Employee Feedback, and Follow-through
Engaged leaders are effective communicators and listeners who are able to build trust among their employees—and trust in the cornerstone of employee retention. Jenn Hyman, the co-founder and CEO of fashion rental service Rent the Runway, tells Inc. that listening to employee feedback is both key to her leadership style and a regular part of her company’s business operations.
3. Create and Support an Inclusive Culture
An Arizona State University study reveals that corporations are losing more women and minority professionals than their male and white counterparts. The high quit rates and employee retention challenges have been linked to challenges in adapting to workplaces and, in some cases, to lack of support from managers.
4. Invest in Employee Growth Opportunities
Money is rarely the main reason people leave their jobs. An engagement survey at Facebook revealed that people were leaving because of the work and the roles they were in.
Another big reason employees leave a job is a lack of career advancement opportunities. Says Mulligan, “Clearly, career growth needs to happen more quickly, when 68% of organizations are experiencing their highest turnover sometimes within a new employee’s first 12 months on the job.”
5. Go Deep with Exit Interviews
Known as a leader on work-life balance (read: mandated employee surf breaks ) and for its unusually low employee turnover rates, outdoor clothing company Patagonia is known for doing things differently. Its approach to exit interviews is no less unique.
Dean Carter, the company’s chief human resources officer, told an audience at the Qualtrics X4 Experience Management Summit that he has been moved to tears during exit interviews. He suggested starting the conversation from the beginning, with how employees came to join the company in the first place, rather than why they are leaving: “After that, it’s ‘Did we do that?’ ‘What was the experience we delivered for you?’ ‘Where was the difference in that?’ ” he said.
Organizations are increasingly using “stay” interviews to retain employees. During these interviews, the employer explores and understands why employees want to work for the company and what it will take to keep them.
Employee Retention means Investing in Your Employment Brand
It is difficult to engage employees of all types and stripes in a meaningful way – but it is even harder and more costly to replace them. Leaders and companies that invest time in figuring out what employees need to stay engaged in their jobs will be most successful in retaining them. Having a strong employee retention strategy will also result in happier, more productive employees who inspire and elevate those around them.
Author : Alex Samur
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