Blog: Retention, Retention, Retention – How to get it right?

What is Employee retention and why does it matter?

Employee retention is the ability of a company to retain its workforce and make it more productive and profitable.   Therefore, companies that suffer from a high attrition of employees or high staff turnover can face real issues, particularly in a post pandemic highly competitive labour skills market.

This has recently been exacerbated by the “Great Resignation” the post pandemic upheaval of the jobs market as employees felt more inclined to move jobs as the world retuned to a sense or normality and “Quiet Quitting”. This later trend is probably the more damaging to productivity as employees do the minimum required in a company’s role hurting productivity and eventually leading to retention issues.  Why because the employee has become disengaged because a company is not looking at retention wholistically and addressing every area that can lead to problems with retention.

So where does addressing retention start?

Retention is multi – faceted and individualistic to each organisation and employee. What drives one person to stay at an organisation is different to the next person.  Therefore, organisations must look wholistically at several key areas to improve their overall retention.

Job design and evaluation

Even before recruitment begins, we need to create fulfilling, compelling and worthwhile jobs that have clear purpose and place within an organisation.  Each role needs to be carefully reviewed so it offers a variety in skills, task identification and outcome, a sense of autonomy and significance – 79% of employees who quit their jobs claim that a lack of appreciation was a major reason for leaving.  Either they or their company or colleagues didn’t see the significance in their role and how if fits into the overall mission of the company.

Roles should also be carefully evaluated, and bench marked so similar skills sets, qualification end experience levels are rewarded fairly and don’t inadvertent cause disparity between job families.

Reward and benefits

Instinct tells us people leave because they are seeking better pay and better benefits. This is usually an oversimplification of the issue people leave and it is as much to do with purpose, culture, and management as money. However, companies must remain competitive, and this parity must look both internally and externally so as not to become an uncompetitive organisation in ether pay or benefits.

Personal development and Learning

One key area to retention is Learning and development.  It is a key area for companies focus on particularly if you cannot recruit the skills, you need externally in a candidate short market.    Companies can achieve this in several different ways through offering structured training, personal development opportunities, courses and qualifications and through mentoring and the chance to act up or second into new roles.

The benefits of offer these improve retention as employees feels a sense of professional grove which drives performance, a sense of value and worth to an organization. Through social learning it improves connection across a business driving innovation and improved culture and wider appreciation of other challenges. It opens career pathways and internal opportunities.

Lastly by upskilling manager leadership skills and awareness and communication skills this improve team moral, productivity and retention.

Recruitment and onboarding

Creating a positive recruitment onboarding experience is key. You have created and designed a completing job position which is competitive to your market with great career pathways, on the job learning and personal development.  If you don’t interview, offer onboard and induction new employees well this can leave to early retention issues.  Take stock and review the process and make it as candidate focused as you can.  Hiring Managers must take accountability for induction to ensure that they give their new hires the experience they would expect themselves when joining a new company.

Leadership & Purpose

Strong Leadership provides meaning and purpose to an organization’s aspirational reasons for existing. They align with employees’ personal motivations and desire and answer the core question of why employees do the work they do.

An absence of leadership can create a void and purpose and recognition that can drive retention issues with an organization.

Good leadership comes not only from the top of an organization but at each and every level, but the key message needs to reinforce by example from the top.

Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

Whether created by design or not every company has an EVP. It is the heart of what makes employees stay and grow with an organization. Simply put an EVP is the what’s in it for me for an employee – this is not just about pay and rewards but en-captures ALL the elements discuss so far – from Career pathways, to Leaning and development culture and purpose a strong positive and talked about EVP drives retention and attraction of the top talent.

Data analysis

Use data to inform of future decisions. Exit data is an often overlooked and invaluable source of information that can steer the conversation around retention.  Good quality exit information can highlight issues across all areas of retention, from the design of a job roles to management and leadership of rewards and benefits. Periodic reviews should be undertaken at both a companywide level and on team level and highlighted issue can then be focused on to drive a reduction in staff turnover and improve engagement.

Some Turnover is good

Having a manageable level of turnover can also be a good thing.  Companies that say they don’t have any turnover are firstly a best lying or at worst delusional.  A reasonable amount of turnover is positive.  Why? New people new ideas and ways of doing things – if we don’t recruit externally, we stay the same and that means no innovation.  Internal movement can also be good – it provides strong career development through carefully designed career pathways – keeping the best talent within – retaining that talent and investment.

Onward’s Colleague Forum?

Here are at Onward we are trying to achieve all of the above.  Its not an overnight fix but a journey that ALL employees need to be on.  As part of this Onward have our Colleague forum. Its aims are to open up a voice for colleagues across the business to the senior leadership team and HR to that any large chances to process and policy are reviewed and discuss with the forum.  It gives everyone a voice that can influence policy from pay and reward to working patterns and customer satisfaction.

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