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Refreshing Insights

One of the biggest ongoing HR challenges for most companies continues to be employee retention. It’s tough to find talented employees who are with you for the long haul. Even when unemployment numbers are high, the average number of years an employee stays with an employer stands at just over four years.

It’s frustrating (and sometimes heartbreaking) to watch as talented, tenured employees are lured away by seemingly better opportunities. What can you do to inspire them to stay? First, you need to understand why they are leaving.

People leave jobs for all kinds of reasons. Not all of them will be issues you can address—there really isn’t anything you can do to keep someone who wants to relocate across the country—but many of the top cited reasons are issues HR can address to prevent turnover.

Most common reasons employees quit

A general consensus of employment surveys will tell you that employees primarily leave jobs for reasons that fall into five basic categories:

  1. Compensation and Benefits
  2. Culture and Work Environment
  3. Employee Appreciation
  4. Job Growth and Career Advancement
  5. Conflict with Supervisor or Manager

While these are the most common areas for concern, they might not be the top reasons in your company. The best way to determine where you need to focus your specific efforts is to ask your own employees via surveys, performance reviews and exit interviews.

In the meantime, the following tips offer more detailed suggestions in these five areas to help you maximize retention.

1. Review Compensation and Benefits

Benchmarking with others in your region and industry isn’t always an easy task but keeping a pulse on the salaries and perks that your competitors offer is a strategic and crucial part of attracting recruits and keeping your existing employees happy.

If you’re used to giving small raises every year, you may need to reconsider that approach. Employees are unlikely to stay if they can receive a substantial pay raise by moving to another company.

Benefits packages, often a major influence in a person’s decision to accept a position, also need to be reviewed. Offering good health insurance and competitive retirement packages are a good place to start.

While salary and benefits are important pieces to overall compensation, don’t forget the importance of paid time off, sick leave, work from home options and flexible scheduling. Many workers leave a company seeking the ever-elusive work/life balance—get creative about how you can facilitate that.

2. Foster a Strong Culture

Some experts argue that job seekers care more about the culture and working environment they’ll be a part of than they do about the details written on a job offer.

When recruiting, it’s crucial to clearly communicate the values, beliefs, behaviors and experiences that define your organization. Even more important is that those characteristics are authentically lived out among every employee—starting at the very top with your leadership team.

3. Show Appreciation

A shocking number of employees—79 percent, according to Inc. Magazine—leave their jobs because they don’t feel appreciated or valued. And it’s so simple to change. Create a culture of appreciation by demonstration. Say thank you to employees and recognize great work even if you are not their boss—heck, especially when you are not their boss! “Wow, Jim, I was really impressed with your detailed report, thank you. It really helped me understand that process.”

Work with leadership to create programs for employee recognition that align with company goals. Modern workers want to understand and see how their job performance contributes to the company’s success.

4. Develop Talent from Within

Developing talent from within can help fill difficult positions and increase retention efforts. Employees who quit their jobs often say they feel uninspired or need new challenges, or they couldn’t see a path for job growth or career advancement with your company.

Provide mentors, career coaches and training opportunities for employees to learn new skills. Pay for relevant classes and certifications. Help your teams build their professional networks and develop soft skills to improve their communication and social interactions.

Use performance reviews to track skill development and work with employees to create a vision for how they can contribute to the company and boost their personal career goals.

5. Train Your Supervisors and Managers

You would think this one should go without saying, but 58 percent of managers say they have never received any management training and one report found that 60 percent of new managers underperform—or outright fail—in their first two years in the role.

Manager training should include, at a minimum, practicing communication skills and conflict resolution, learning how to set expectations and delegate duties, and demonstrating how to give effective feedback and coach employees on performance.

There’s a lot of debate in HR if people really leave because of their bosses, but we do know, according to a 2020 Officevibes report, that ineffectual management—failure to provide structure or guidance or feedback—results in a 40 percent drop in engagement, and 82 percent of employees say they want feedback on performance regardless of if it’s positive or negative.

Looking for More Strategies? McCloneHR Can Help!

Our complimentary Employee Engagement Assessment offers specific retention recommendations based on evaluation of current benefits, internal communication and employee relations. Contact us to learn more.

And checkout our Guide to Building a Positive Workplace Culture for actionable ideas and practical tips to take your culture and employee engagement to the next level.

Guide to Building a Better Culture

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A collection of articles from the McClone team with the helpful knowledge and insights to ensure your organization is well protected.