People: The Fuel for Employee Retention

employee retention 810x650

Every day I talk with leaders of organizations, and when I ask what is keeping him/her up at night, the overwhelming response is “finding and retaining talent.” I don’t know of any industry that is not starving for talent.

Today, there are more jobs than people available to perform the jobs. So, what happened to cause the shift from an employer market to an employee market? A perfect storm.

How We Arrived Here

For starters, a good economy over the past several years created more work/jobs; but with baby boomers nearing retirement at an increasing pace, the number of people leaving the workforce also increased. It’s no wonder we have this situation in front of us. With approximately 41 million people in Generation X compared to the roughly 78 million people in the Baby Boomer generation, the storm gained even more strength. Then came a global pandemic. Much can be said about the impact of COVID-19. Still, it did unequivocally alter the expectations of how and where we work. It also created an awakening for many workers about what they truly want from a career standpoint.

These unique circumstances have created a dynamic that we have not seen in our times.

What is a Company to Do?

Put people first. Truly.

Many companies will say that their employees are “their greatest asset” or claim to have a “people culture.” Their intentions are good, but often companies fall short with the connection to their people, leaving employees feeling unappreciated and wanting more. If you are one of the companies that make these claims, can you prove what you say? When was the last time you asked your employees about their experience working for you, and I don’t mean during their exit interview? Do you have specific examples of how you live and breathe your purpose, mission, vision, and values every day? Do employees see things from the same perspective as the leadership team? Are there examples of how people and family come first that you can point to when talking about the company to current and prospective employees?

When we fall short on employees feeling connected to the organization, engaged in the work they do, and excited for the company’s future, they will look for reasons to leave. At this point, competitors and other organizations have a window of opportunity to influence your staff to make a career change. Compensation is one tactic right now that is front and center; however, that is not a long-term retention solution. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many companies in most industries have retention rates exceeding 20%. A 15-20% retention rate is a healthy range, and new techniques need to be applied to stay in that range.

Know Your Employees

Turnover is costly and can drain both morale and the bottom line. The more time you invest in retention strategies, the less time you need to spend recruiting. Knowing your employees’ strengths, interests, and motivations and weaving those into your overall retention strategy can significantly impact overall employee retention. Build a future for your employees and make them a part of it through career development training and opportunities to continue to grow and contribute. Anticipate what your business needs in 5, 10, or 20 years and create a workforce that can withstand disruption and leverage it for greater success. What you do today should have a lasting impact on tomorrow.

Next Steps

In our webinar “Keeping Your Talent: Retention Strategies for 2022,” we will review the trends that are happening now and will continue in 2022 and beyond. You will learn where to prioritize your effort to ensure you remain competitive in the marketplace. Now is the time to think differently about keeping your talent because these challenges show no signs of leaving.

Kristi Weierbach