We all know that finding top talent is difficult, but retaining top performers is proving to be equally as difficult — especially when so many other employers are launching recruiting campaigns designed to aggressively lure the cream of the crop with outrageous salaries, sign-on bonuses, stock options, and so on. As we continue to navigate through unprecedented times and ride the wave of The Great Resignation, many employers sadly continue to struggle finding and implementing initiatives that can effectively retain their valuable talent.
We want to highlight several key elements that can help your business survive (and even thrive) during these turbulent times: Risk Assessment, Compensation, and Engagement and Recognition. So, let’s dive into these!
Understanding your workforce and assessing your employees’ flight risk is the very first step in your retention journey. Communication is key to completing an accurate assessment, so you know what your employees want and how to retain them. In an ideal world, every employee should have a flight-risk score. For this, we suggest proactively conducting ongoing surveys that give employees opportunities to voice their concerns and opinions freely, having managers conduct skip-level meetings to give employees exposure and access to senior level managers, and, most importantly, conducting Stay-Interviews to ask probing questions such as:
- Why did you join the organization?
- How did you anticipate joining our organization would support your career aspirations?
- Are you on track to having your career objectives and dreams realized? If not, what is preventing this from occurring?
- Which aspects of your work do you enjoy the most and find the most fulfilling?
- Which do you enjoy the least?
- Are you receiving sufficient challenges in your current role to keep you engaged and fulfilled?
- Are you receiving sufficient opportunities for your career growth and development?
- If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
- Who inspires you the most within the company and why?
- What would influence you to look elsewhere for career satisfaction?
You would be surprised at what you discover during this process. First and foremost, in an effective 30-minute Stay-Interview between a manager and employee, the managers ask those standardized questions casually and conversationally, not as a performance evaluation, but rather as a “let me get to know you and your goals” discussion. It is an opportunity to build trust with an employee and a chance to assess the employee’s degrees of satisfaction and engagement. Stay-Interviews are preferable to employee-satisfaction surveys because they provide a two-way conversation and a chance to ask questions, get a more in-depth understanding of that employee’s current motivation, and offers managers the opportunity to quickly reinforce the positives and deal with the employee’s concerns. However, be advised that sometimes topics arise that are unexpected and even uncomfortable. Therefore, it is important for employers to be prepared to address pretty much anything from hostile work environments to harassment and poor managers.
While it is not necessarily always about the money, we cannot ignore the fact that compensation plays a very important part in someone’s decision process when it comes to employment. As such, a good practice is to be proactive and conduct ongoing reviews of your employee’s compensation and how it compares to the current market conditions. If you are unable to bridge a gap in base salary, we suggest getting creative with a bonus plan or additional benefits that employees may value even more than money to let the employee know you are taking care of them. After all, if you don’t, you run the risk of another employer enticing the employee away with a greater compensation plan.
Another key element is keeping employees engaged. This requires a lot of work and clarity when it comes to a company’s vision. You want to make sure that your employees have a clear understanding of the company’s mission and how their work contributes to it. As previously mentioned, skip-level meetings can play an important role in doing so. Making employees aware that they play an integral part of the overall picture is absolutely necessary to develop a culture of engagement. This also requires soliciting their feedback and asking them for their input on your company’s projects, products, and services. After all, an engaged workforce is more passionate about what they do; thus less likely to leave.
Last but not least, we can never underestimate the power of recognizing the value of an employee’s contribution. Recognizing, celebrating, and rewarding the positive impact an employee has made at work contributes to their sense of achievement and value to the company, and ultimately retention. Sadly, many companies struggle to do just that, and ultimately end up losing good people who feel undervalued. For this, we suggest developing and implementing a recognition program of some sort that allows managers and employees to recognize one another and be publicly recognized for their achievements. It can be a segment in your quarterly all-hands meeting, or an intranet site or newsletter where you can give kudos to your employees, making a positive impact.
In conclusion, while there is no silver bullet when it comes to employee retention, we believe implementing these practical solutions can make a difference and keep your employees happy and engaged. Remember that recruiters are trained to exploit every possible angle and pain point in order to get employees to consider jumping ship. Therefore, having a solid retention plan in place that includes aforementioned elements is critical to retaining the talent you have and minimizing employee turnover.