Competition for talent is fierce. Unemployment rates hover near historic lows around the world, new technologies are raising the demand for new skills, and older workers are retiring at a rapid pace. As a result, employers need every advantage they can gain in competing for workers, and that includes protecting the talent they already have.
Employee retention begins by creating a more compelling experience for every worker. According to Allegis Group’s “Global Workforce Trends Report,” there is one takeaway for any employer that wants to hold onto its best workers: improve the employer-employee relationship. What follows are three retention strategies that can keep the most valuable workers on board, engaged, and productive.
#1: Treat Employees as Individuals
Not all workers have the same values when it comes to their careers—even including those in the same role or a similar demographic. Some expect a new title every 2 years while others are not interested in climbing the corporate ladder. One employee may love travel while another may dislike it or find it impractical due to family commitments.
To keep workers happy, employers must take the time and effort to learn about and address employees’ diverse needs. Ask about their lives outside of work. Try teambuilding activities together, such as a volunteer day. Also, show up to performance reviews with well-thought-out feedback. Offer executive face time and mentorships. Any of these actions are helpful in building relationships, but they are not ends unto themselves. Rather, each interaction can help managers and leaders better understand and, more importantly, adjust to the unique needs of the people who work with them.
#2: Empower Workers to Advance Their Careers
Today’s employees want career control. In fact, an Allegis Group survey found 71% of Human Resources (HR) professionals believe outdated work practices; unclear career paths; or limited advancements, skills development or mentoring would result in a higher likelihood of Millennials and Gen Zs leaving their organizations. To fight turnover, employers must prioritize education and training in their employee management efforts, as well as accept the time and financial investment needed to provide it. Such a commitment not only fosters an environment where employees are more engaged and satisfied with their work but also enables companies to reap the benefits of a more highly skilled labor force.
Furthermore, beyond just offering training, employers should go a step further by encouraging employees to network internally within the organization and, whenever possible, provide the budget and time to do so. Employees can build a network that leads to a new career level or direction that they would otherwise achieve only by leaving for another employer.
#3: Close Communication Gaps
In today’s corporate world, gaps in communication can create discontent among employees and may even lead to their departure. Instead of bombarding employees with e-mails, companies can create an online resource where announcements are made, including job openings, social outings, volunteer opportunities and more. Obviously, the employee intranet serves this purpose and is not new, but is it mobile-friendly? Is the information provided current and easy to access? Can employees get work done through a single seamless system? In most legacy online environments, the answer is usually “no” to one or more of these questions. Making a move to modernize these systems can go a long way toward enabling an employee experience that keeps valuable talent on board and productive.
Communication also applies at the very outset of the employee experience. In preparing for day 1 of an employee’s tenure, employers can ensure they start on the right foot by implementing a process and feedback system that tracks and automates onboarding activities. From gaining e-mail access to training on company technology to establishing 30-, 60- or 90-day career goals, employees benefit from the employer’s attention to detail that sets the tone for their work from their first day on the job. The key to success is to make communication a systematic, repeatable process to keep talent engaged.
The Big Picture: A Commitment That Delivers an Engaged and Productive Workforce
In the midst of a talent shortage, it’s critical that employers not only recruit effectively but also retain the great workforce they already have. The most important way companies can do this is by improving the employee-employer relationship.
To achieve this, organizations need to treat people as individuals, empower employees to develop their careers, and close communications gaps to boost retention success. Taken altogether, the commitment to these principles is significant, but the returns—including increased retention and an engaged, productive workforce—make the effort well worthwhile.
Rachel Russell is Executive Director of Corporate Strategy at Allegis Group. As a driver of strategic growth across a $12.3 billion network of global talent solutions companies, Russell’s current focus is the digital transformation of the customer experience, aligning with Allegis Group’s product development, innovation lab, and enterprise data and analytics teams.