Employee retention has become a problem for many different types of businesses that seem to have nothing in common. Though, some may say that constantly rotating workers and having a high turnover rate creates new opportunities for perspective, it can also stifle advancements because you aren’t allowing for employee development. Fortunately, employee retention has become a trending topic, especially in the new quest for keeping millennials[i], so businesses are investing in retention strategies to promote the longevity of their employees at their workplace. Let’s first look at what causes employees to leave:
What contributes to a high turnover rate?
There are many reasons that an employee chooses to leave. Statistics show that some of the most common reasons for leaving include: unexpected workplace/environment, mismatch between the job and person, not enough coaching, feedback, or opportunity for growth, feeling insignificant, stress from work-life imbalance, and loss of trust in leaders[ii]. Though these vary in differing degrees of contribution to the lack of employee retention, many companies have begun investing in employee training programs as a method to keeping their employees longer. Check out these retention strategies:
1. Survey, Survey, Survey
While going through the internship process for a Human Resource related internship, I was partnered up with someone currently in the firm. As we went through case study after case study, I was surprised to see that the first crucial step in employee retention was surveying. Ask your employees what they think the problem is. Ask your employees why they are unhappy. Ask your employees what you could do for them. While this may seem like common sense, businesses have strayed away from surveying because it may come off as though the employer has no idea what they are doing.
For decades, this ideology led the business world because people followed the Henry Ford mantra of, “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have asked for faster horses,” emphasizing that the employer knows best. However, this is no longer the case. In fact, companies that are concerned about their employee retention have begun to heavily invest in their retention strategies by creating their own surveying programs, designed to help both employees and employers manage work-life balance, stress levels, and identifying what works best for whom. Some companies even mandate that you and your manager go over personality tests, performance tests, and other identifying tests, so that your manager (and you) know how you best perform.
Surveys are a great way to identify potential problems that upper level management may not be aware of. Sometimes, making changes like switching to progressive discipline is a great way to show employees that it’s okay to make mistakes and that they are not indispensable.
2. A Better You Is A Better Company
Employee training is another large contributor to employee retention. A large number of employers no longer expect you to know everything on the first day, but instead dedicate a lot of company time and resources on employee training and employee development. Some of these include leadership training, IT training, and professional training, where the company places value on you as a person with growing interests and diverse skill sets. As one of my Information Technology professors once said, “If you’re receiving something for free, the product is you!”
When employers invest in employee training, such as leadership training, they are doing much more than just preparing you for another job. This, especially if seen in a small business, could mean that your employer is training you to take their place. Leadership training, in particular, has gained a lot of popularity recently because leadership training develops your skills as a worker, makes you a greater asset to your company, and encourages you to take initiative and be a better worker. No wonder all these employers want to know about your leadership experience.
Employee development has also become a vital part of employee training because it better prepares you to work at their firm. It’s no secret that employers love to hire from the inside because experience is the key to gaining entry in higher-level positions. Employee development focuses on learning new skills and concepts that help mold you as an employee, and if your company is spending time and money on your employee development, it is a safe bet that those skills are going straight back to benefit the company.
However, this is not always the case. Sometimes businesses, especially small businesses that focus on human resources, are genuinely concerned about their employee development. They want their employee training to benefit the individual outside the job as well, such as stress-management. Many statistics prove that the happier the employee, the more productive they are.
Sometimes employee training does not fit into every business plan due to the time consumption of training. This is why a lot of businesses choose to outsource to companies that have training services, like CATMEDIA, who conveniently has locations in Atlanta and D.C, which makes employee training a more reachable goal.
How does engagement fit into our retention strategies? Another popular way to increase employee retention is by making your employees feel more engaged at work. Many studies show that, “Engaged workers are more creative, more productive, and more willing to go the extra mile”[iii], and when employees are happier, they tend to stay longer. So what type of employee engagement should you incorporate into your workday? Here are some suggestions:
- Invest in employee training: As previously mentioned, employee training can demonstrate to employees that they are a valuable asset to their company.
- Implement suggestions found in surveys: Implementing suggestions found in surveys can encourage employees to participate and feel more significant in the workplace.
- Have networking lunch-ins, happy hours, and retreats: Some of the most common reasons for employees leaving are work-life balance and not fitting into their environment. Setting time aside to get to know your coworkers is an important aspect in employee retention because it improves the work culture.
What Retention Strategies should you use?
There are many factors that go into determining which retention strategies you should implement. For instance, a small business located in Atlanta may invest more in leadership training than a larger business located in New York because leadership training could be an essential function of a smaller business. You should ask yourself questions such as, “What is your business size?” “Is turnover vitally damaging to my operations?” and “What timeframe do I have for retention strategies?” Implementing these three retention strategies are sure to improve your employee retention.
[i] PwC. “Millennials at work, reshaping the workplace.” PWC. 2011. https://www.pwc.com/m1/en/services/consulting/documents/millennials-at-work.pdf
[ii] Branham, Leigh. "The 7 hidden reasons employees leave." New York: AMACOM (2005).
[iii] Bakker, Arnold B., and Evangelia Demerouti. "Towards a model of work engagement." Career development international 13.3 (2008): 209-223.
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).