Stop the Bleeding: 3 Ways to Retain Employees
By: Maren Hogan, Beyond
Great news! According to a November 2014 labor report, 2.8 million people quit their jobs in September of this year, which is the highest level since 2008.
“Wait. Turnover is bad for me. Why is this good news?” – Great question. It may not be. While the findings of this labor report delivers good news for the economy, this may not be great news for your HR department or the teams laboring to step up productivity with an increasingly lean staff. Attrition for the most part, spells bad news for your organization. How can you replace attrition with retention and keep your valuable employees right where they are?
If you’re not cheering the masses fleeing their positions, let’s look at some steps you can take to stem the tide at your organization before it even starts.
1. Offer your employees benefits they actually want.
The benefits you should be implementing might (and probably will) be different from other organizations, even of the same size. Every company is different and particularly small and midsize companies should be aware of the differing kinds of benefits packages. Here are some rules to keep in mind when designing benefits packages to keep your workforce around and happy.
Rule #1: Your employees don’t always know what they want. One high-street bank found 70% of staff said they wanted subsidised gyms; but when provided, take-up was only 3%. It’s important to incorporate the feedback of your workforce, but ensure you’re tracking actual usage of benefits to gauge usefulness. The take home? Use surveys but back it up with data or you might find these budget blasters eating up your benefit effectiveness.
Rule #2: The usefulness or value of benefits will be different for different age groups. For example, as Gen Y employees get married and start families, hospital indemnity plans and hospital intensive care plans are going to be more relevant. For Boomers, you should be looking at including income protection policies. Your ATS and succession plans are excellent places to look for the benefits that might be useful to your workforce now and in the future. Keep in mind that something that would make an entry-level worker scream with delight (free lunches and dry cleaning) might make a more experienced worker chafe at the bit (they want more flex-time and comprehensive healthcare).
Rule #3: They’re willing to pay. A Metlife Small Business Study found that 66% percent of respondents were willing to bear more of the cost of their benefits rather than lose them. Before cutting (or not including) a benefit, consider offering to pass some of the cost onto the employees. The bottom line is when you offer your employees a choice and offer to subsidize a portion of it, it’s still likely going to cost them less than what they might pay on the open market. Another piece of this is educating them about the changes in available benefits packages. Just providing them with employee benefit options is, in and of itself, a benefit.
2. Help make them better at their jobs.
Training is something that almost every upwardly mobile person wants. The statistics on lifelong or career-long learning are well known but here are few to refresh your memory. HR Magazine showed companies investing $1,500 plus per employee annually average 24% higher profit margins than those who are stingier with their budgets. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) surveyed 2500 firms and found that companies that offer comprehensive training:
• Have 218% higher income per employee than those with less comprehensive training
• Enjoy a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training
• Generate a 6% higher shareholder return if the training expenditure per employee increases by $680
With the amazing amount of online learning opportunities, your employees have more resources available than ever and chances are, the expense to the employer is far less as well. Have a budget smaller than those listed above? Look at online podcasts, schools for coding and design, or professional designations that may be subsidized by professional associations (like SHRM!).
3. Offer them promotional opportunities.
You know that counter-offers rarely work. But you can stem the tide by giving raises before resentment builds. The case for preemptive raises is a good one. First, it will cost a fraction of retraining a new worker. Second, if employees leave, the remaining staff will be overworked and may suffer a loss of productivity. Third, this allows you to control the pay increase to a certain extent.
Can’t afford to give big raises across the board? Give smaller ones and offer a small promotion with each one. The message is abundantly clear, you don’t receive a raise for warming a chair every year, but in the expectation one will rise to the occasion. Conducting regular performance reviews (360 natch) or “stay” interviews (as opposed to the nastier cousin “exit interviews”) can give you more accurate insight into those who need to be promoted or risk getting frustrated in their current position. Keep in mind that employees need to be regularly challenged (not frustrated, challenged) to learn new skills. And they may be learning at a faster rate than the oft-mentioned 3 months.
Employees, especially those who are trained to work well within your company, are a valuable resource. It’s time to take that sentiment from the careers page and put in action for the people who run your company! What are you planning to do this year to increase retention?