With the ongoing labor shortage making it harder and harder for hiring managers to fill open positions, raising retention rates has become more important than ever. As workplace culture emerges as a driving factor behind employee retention, HR departments are finding that strengthening communication throughout the company is the most effective way to build culture and improve employee relations—and retain talented workers.
A healthy company culture boosts engagement, increases productivity, and reduces turnover, making your organization an employer of choice. A good place to start is by creating an employee-centric culture, one that fosters collaboration, inclusivity, and transparency.
Time to Play Defense
The labor shortage is the result of a few factors. As the gig economy has transformed the hourly employment landscape, a parallel increase in educated workers means fewer people seeking jobs centered on manual labor.
The flexibility of the gig economy benefits individuals because it offers a different kind of work/life balance and wider options for jobs, but it makes it harder for HR departments to retain workers. In addition, an increasingly educated workforce has made it harder to fill blue-collar positions, like when a hotel near Salt Lake City, Utah, put out a job posting for housekeepers that failed to elicit even one applicant.
Employees have many options when it comes to employment opportunities. For 10 cents per hour more and a hot lunch, they may move to the competitor down the street. Considering that it costs at least $4,000 to replace a line employee (and up to 150% of a salaried employee’s pay), retention is an HR professional’s first line of defense. With nearly half of all employees constantly scanning the horizon for new opportunities, keeping your employees happy is imperative.
4 Ways to Improve Retention
Fortunately, HR professionals can do several things to combat the labor shortage. These four strategies will help you communicate better with employees and reduce turnover:
1. Clearly communicate your mission, vision, and values. Millennials care about having a purpose, and because they comprise the majority of the workforce, that means making sure your employees understand theirs. They need to understand how their role fits within the company and believe in what they do. That’s one reason it’s important everyone understand the decision-making process and feel his or her voice is heard.
Start by making sure your management and frontline workers have a clear line of communication. This goes for day-to-day process-related communications, as well as those around mission, vision, and values. Employees can tell immediately if managers are disingenuous or not behaving consistently with company values in their day-to-day interactions.
2. Connect employees to their peers. Increasingly, employees are blending their work and personal lives. As they desire more flexibility between work and home, this blending is natural. It follows that employees expect an almost “family-like” relationship with their colleagues.
By facilitating employee connections, you can help build these extremely important relationships. For example, open up channels on your workplace communication app where employees can interact socially and spaces in the workplace where employees can group together on breaks.
3. Find new ways to recognize employees. Support and recognition can make or break your company’s culture, according to research by Mental Health America. When employees feel their contribution matters and people notice their hard work, they stay; companies with employee recognition programs see 31% lower turnover rates. Empower employees to do their jobs by encouraging your management team to recognize employees frequently.
Offering benefits, professional development opportunities, and a flexible work environment is another great way to attract and retain employees. A vast majority of employees (91%) who are effectively noticed and rewarded feel their work makes a difference—another crucial aspect of retention.
4. Differentiate yourself through technology.
Another way to differentiate your company and retain employees is by having the right technology in place. Technology is vital in attracting Millennials in particular—who make up about half of the workforce. It’s also critical for Gen Zs, who prioritize efficiency and the ability to connect in real time. (To them, e-mail is dead, so it’s important you stay up to date on the most efficient platforms that will keep your team functioning at a high level.)
Incorporating digital solutions into your communications practice also helps you keep messaging and processes consistent. For instance, in an emergency, you can automate employee communications and get notifications that tell them who has received the message (saving you quite a few calls).
And when onboarding new employees, you can automate the process. This ensures everyone learns the same lessons about culture and process—and gives you the chance to add personal touches, like a video message from the CEO.
Thanks to the current labor shortage, there has been a significant power shift from employers to employees. Retention should be employers’ first line of defense, as it’s far preferable—and more cost-effective—to keep employees happy than to constantly replace them. Building a company culture focused on communication, transparency, recognition, and relationships will improve operations on all fronts.
|Andrada Paraschiv is Head of Hospitality at Beekeeper, a secure, mobile-first operational communications platform for frontline teams. By providing real-time unified communications, Beekeeper keeps everyone at the company aligned across shifts, departments, languages, and locations. Before Beekeeper, Paraschiv held senior-level strategy and communications positions at AccorHotels and FRHI Hotels & Resorts.|