An article in January’s issue of PPB Magazine shared recruiting ideas for finding good hires in today’s tight job market. This month we’re focusing on some ideas for retaining your best employees as the market continues.
In a strong economy, your business could be at risk of losing its best employees as your competitors work to lure them away. Maybe your employees are just looking around for a higher salary or more opportunities. Maybe they’re just plain unhappy where they are.
A 2018 Conference Board survey reported that only 43 percent of employees are happy in their current positions. That number is up slightly from previous years, but the percentage of happy employees still represents the minority of the workforce.
So how do you keep your best people without breaking the bank? This, too, is a complex issue with no simple solution. There are some steps, though, that you can take to increase retention. And the good news is they don’t all involve big salary increases.
Invest time and dollars in your managers and supervisors. According to a recent Fortune.com survey (and lots of other surveys, too), the No. 1 reason people leave their jobs is because of bad supervisors and managers. “Bad” supervision and management comes in all shapes and sizes. Employees may feel their work is not recognized or appreciated, they may not be given clear direction, or they may receive little to no feedback on their performance until appraisal time, when a host of issues that might easily have been addressed sooner suddenly appear.
To be fair, employees who are promoted into supervisory and management positions often lack the skills to succeed and aren’t given enough guidance and support by their supervisors and managers. And if they’re not successful and leave the organization or move to another position, that means another new, inexperienced supervisor may assume the role. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual to hear employees say, “I’ve had six different supervisors in the past 18 months and I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing.” Investing in your managers and supervisors can help your organization avoid this chronic problem.
Be proactive. Often, employees don’t get asked about their intentions for staying with an organization until they announce they’re leaving. Being pre-emptive and proactive—through regular employee communication using both formal and informal channels—can help identify employees who may be thinking of leaving. In 2014, recruiters at Credit Suisse started calling employees identified as being at risk of leaving and notifying them of openings within the company. By taking this action, the company estimates they successfully retained 300 employees and saved $75 - $100 million in recruiting and training costs.
Start thinking—and communicating—total compensation. Most organizations don’t do a good job of thinking about and communicating total compensation to employees. A typical total benefits package is worth 30 to 35 percent of base salary, and a robust package may be worth almost 50 percent. Add in incentive and profit-sharing plans, and your total compensation package may actually exceed that of your competitors. Make sure your employees understand that. And just like it’s possible to create a customized benefits package for a potential new hire, offerings like an extra week of paid vacation or an increased contribution to health insurance can be useful tools for retaining an employee you don’t want to lose.
Restructure jobs. If you’re balking at giving each of your customer service reps a $10,000 raise to match the salary of that new CSR, consider restructuring or adding more responsibility to their jobs. Do they handle more complex calls? Do they work more closely with the sales representatives? They may already be functioning as senior CSRs but without the pay. However you choose to address this type of issue, be sure that you are rewarding them with something tangible and meaningful. Most importantly, be transparent. Remember, your employees will talk about it.
Offer a variety of training and development opportunities. According to the same Fortune survey cited above, after bad bosses and compensation, the third most frequent reason for employees to leave their jobs is lack of opportunity. There are multiple ways to provide your employees with training and education to prepare them for new opportunities. These may include formal training courses, industry conferences, webinars and online learning or inexpensive alternatives such as providing a mentor or a cross-training opportunity.
An increasing number of employers are also offering tuition reimbursement for education not related to an individual’s current position. Many traditional tuition reimbursement plans limit reimbursement to course work related to a current position, but a 2015 International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans survey reported that 46 percent of survey respondents offer tuition reimbursement for any course work, regardless if it is related to the work currently being performed.
The bottom line is to get creative and ahead of the game to keep your best employees.
Susan Palé is a contributor for Affinity HR Group, Inc., PPAI’s affiliated human resources partner. Affinity HR Group specializes in providing human resources assistance to associations, such as PPAI, and their member companies. www.affinityHRgroup.com
This article was originally published in PPB Magazine, July 1, 2019. Used with permission from PPAI.