Employee retention has never been more critical than it is right now amidst our current environment of 9.2 million open jobs in the US. Imagine you receive news that one of your top performing, high potential employees is going to leave. Not only does this news come entirely out of blue, this employee’s departure ends up costing you $15,000 U.S Dollars. Now consider this same scenario happening to a handful of employees in your organization.
Recent surveys report that many businesses, especially small businesses, are really struggling to find workers to hire. This means it is vital for employers to understand why employees leave and most importantly, what they can do about it. In this article, we will look at some of the top reasons employees leave their jobs and what you can do to better retain your employees, particularly through these uncertain times.
Here are some common reasons why employees leave and the potential remedies to help you avoid turnover and its subsequent costs:
1. Career development
One of the most common reasons for an employee to leave is a lack of career development or limited upward mobility. Employees, particularly Millennials and Generation Z, value and almost expect that an organization will provide room and opportunities for career growth. Unlike past generations, Millennials and Gen Z will not stick around and stay with one employer to collect an attractive pension. If they don’t see room for growth they will find an opportunity with another organization.
To start, you need to engage with your employees in detailed career discussions. Ideally these are happening multiple times a year and separate from a performance review discussion. During these discussions, ask your employees what interests them, what their career goals are, and what they would ideally like to do next. Most importantly, ask your employees how you can best support them with their career goals.
It is so critical as an employer to invest in your employees’ professional development and ensure they’re continually growing in their jobs. This leads to higher levels of engagement and job satisfaction while helping with retention. While there are a variety of ways to invest in your employees’ professional development, some examples include, leadership training, professional skill development, promotional opportunities, access to coaches or mentors to help with their career development, and exposure to meetings, company events, or client interactions that can help hone their professional skills.
Even if you’re a small organization and funds are tight, offering virtual or in person training to your workforce is a great option to show you are invested in their professional development.
2. Work-life balance
Another top reason contributing to the departure of your employees is the need for work-life balance. In the face of the pandemic distress and uncertainties, employees realized how interconnected the personal and the professional really are. Employees across generations and at all levels are increasingly valuing their families, health, personal time, and overall wellness in relation to their work schedules.
Since employees value healthy work and life alignment, you need to capitalize on technology which will help enable them to adapt to the changing workplace requirements in the wake of the pandemic. Most importantly, employers need to allow for flexible working times and environments, including remote working when possible. While not all roles are conducive to remote work, many are. Even allowing employees to work remotely one or two days a week can make a huge difference. It would also help if you aimed at allowing adequate personal time to employees in the face of today’s life predicaments. This includes vacation time, personal time, sick leave, etc. Remember, if your paid time off isn’t competitive, you run the risk of losing quality employees to an employer with a more competitive paid time off policy.
3. Manager behavior
Every employee values a respectful and positive relationship with their manager. No one joins a company or moves into a new role hoping to work for a jerk. Unfortunately, many people leave organizations because they have an unhealthy and sometimes toxic manager. Therefore, a negative relationship with a manager can contribute to employee resignations.
Consider both the behavior and the results of all the managers in your organization. Make sure your core values reflect how managers are expected to act and treat others. Reinforce positive employee-manager relationships, by regularly conducting 360 feedback exercises, holding focus groups with employees, and implementing exit interviews. The bottom line is to build a strong and healthy employee-management relationship throughout the organization and addressing head on any managers who are poor people leaders.
4. Employee support amid a reduction in force
The economic repercussions of Covid-19 forced many businesses to cut costs through various measures, including the prevalent layoffs and reductions in force during the pandemic. However, one thing’s for sure, the ramifications of those layoffs could significantly affect the productivity and commitment of the remaining workforce. Many employees may feel insecure about their job or roles which could encourage them to leave for a financially secure company where they won’t run the risk of being laid off.
Acknowledge and address the loss of employees. The worst thing you can do is act as if nothing has happened and it is business as usual. To respond appropriately, you need to provide support and assistance to help the remaining employees adjust and process what has happened. This could occur through town halls, focus groups, in management meetings or one on one with members of the leadership team. You could leverage Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) which offer a variety of support through training, counselors, and other health and wellness programs. Acknowledging, appreciating and recognizing your employees is another way to show you value them and what they do. Therefore, providing professional and personal support throughout a challenging time can help increase employee loyalty, commitment, and retention.
While there isn’t a one size fits all strategy for employee retention, the four topics outlined above will help you focus on the key drivers of employee retention and should help you improve the overall employee experience.
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