Retaining Your People
The labor force steadily rose over the last decade until the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, the labor force in the United States decreased by about ten million workers. In 2021, the labor force gained back four million workers and ended up at roughly 152 million. Nearly one-third of those workers changed jobs during The Great Resignation.
There are various reasons cited for the cause of this shift in the labor force. While pay is often sited as a reason for some employees, a NRP/Marist Poll highlights that benefits packages, growth opportunities, relocation and working remotely are also top reasons.
As a result, HR professionals are beginning to see a need for greater focus on employee retention. Retaining employees can help mitigate the cost of hiring and any lost value during their onboarding process. Here are a few strategies that your HR team can consider implementing to reduce costly employee attrition.
Employee Feedback & Transparency
Prioritize transparency and honest communication between employees and management. Employees want to know their feedback is being heard and considered to inform meaningful changes in their workplace. If your organization doesn’t regularly collect employee feedback, now is a good time to start. Regular employee feedback should be collected anonymously and used to uncover potential problems that may cause employees to start looking for roles at other companies.
Employee surveys are only the beginning of the process. Once your employee’s feedback has been collected and consolidated, your HR team can analyze the data and create action items to implement the change. After action items have been decided upon, it’s essential for leadership to clearly communicate what next steps will be and how they will address any concerns that presented themselves during the collection of employee feedback.
If resources, priorities, or timing do not currently align to be able to address employee concerns, communicate that with your employees. This is an opportunity to highlight possible alternatives while working towards longer-term solutions. Employees value transparency and honesty, and this can demonstrate that their feedback is extremely valuable, which will help create a healthy feedback culture. A strong culture with robust communication has been shown to reduce employee turnover.
Leadership Training & Career Development
Even amid economic uncertainty, leadership training and career development training can be valuable tools in the HR professional’s toolkit. Leadership training is especially important, as research has shown that poor leadership significantly contributes to an employee's decision to leave their company. By supporting effective leadership through training, HR professionals can help recognize actual cost savings to the business by halting preventable employee turnover.
A great manager will help their employees understand they are valued team members, even when navigating potentially difficult conversations about the state of the business. Trust between employees and management grows through a balance of empathy and confidence. This trust allows open and honest communication that will enable managers to better meet the needs of employees and the business.
Career development training is equally crucial during times of economic strain. If your employees are up-skilled and cross-trained in multiple areas, they can support the organization in the event of budget cuts and/or layoffs. Your team will be better positioned to navigate a fluctuating job market. Also, career development will position your organization to effectively upskill when the economy improves. Your team members who are up-skilled and cross-trained in multiple areas will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with new team members.
Recap & What’s Next
I hope one thing is clear; a softening job market is not a retention strategy. It’s in your best interest to continually work at retaining your best people, no matter what the strength of the economy appears to be. As I mentioned, it’s more expensive to hire, train, and ramp new employees than to keep the people you already have invested in.
Please set aside one hour with your team or manager over the next week and look at some of the HR practices you have in place. Answer these questions:
- Does your organization push anonymous employee feedback surveys to understand how employees feel about the state of the organization?
- Does your organization have leadership training, and how often?
- Does your organization offer training to help employees up-skill and cross-train in multiple areas?
Take a deep dive and make changes where needed. Next week, we will discuss how to build resilience in your organization so that your team can push through any challenge.
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