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Employee Retention Strategies: Why are workers leaving?


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Many employers are no doubt wishing that the Great Resignation, where employees have been quitting their jobs in record numbers since the spring of 2022

Exit interviews can provide invaluable insight into the employee perspective of your company and help determine whether your employee retention strategies need improvement.

More than likely, you’ll hear the departing employee cite one or more of the following reasons for leaving their job:

  • Inadequate salary (Note: In Robert Half’s Job Optimism Survey, 65% of workers said a salary boost is the main reason they are seeking a new job.)

  • A perks and benefits package that isn’t competitive

  • Feeling overworked and/or unsupported

  • Limited career advancement

  • A need for better work-life balance

  • Lack of recognition

  • Boredom

  • Unhappiness with management

  • Concerns about the company’s direction or financial health

  • Dissatisfaction with the company culture

  • The desire to make a change

  • More compelling job opportunities at other companies

Employee retention strategies for job satisfaction

While the job market in some industries and regions favors employers, candidates with in-demand skills likely won’t have to wait long to find a new opportunity. Many companies never stopped recruiting talent during the pandemic, and many others have picked up the pace of hiring in recent months.

If you sense your business is at risk of losing top talent, you need to move fast to shore up your employee retention strategies. Here are areas where deliberate action can help boost employees’ job satisfaction and increase your ability to hold onto valued workers:


Onboarding and orientation

Every new hire should be set up for success from the start. Your onboarding process should teach new employees not only about the job but also about the company culture and how they can contribute to and thrive in it. Don’t skimp on this critical first step. The training and support you provide from day one, whether in person or virtually, can set the tone for the employee’s entire tenure


Mentorship programs

Pairing a new employee with a mentor is a great component to add to your extended onboarding process, especially in a remote work environment. Mentors can welcome newcomers into the company, offer guidance and be a sounding board. And it’s a win-win: New team members learn the ropes from experienced employees, and, in return, they offer a fresh viewpoint to their mentors.


Employee compensation

It’s essential for companies to pay their employees competitive compensation, which means employers need to evaluate and adjust salaries regularly. Even if your business can’t increase pay right now, consider whether you could provide other forms of compensation, such as bonuses. Don’t forget about improving health care benefits and retirement plans, which can help raise employees’ job satisfaction, too.


Perks

Perks can make your workplace stand out to potential new hires and re-engage current staff while boosting employee morale. According to research for our Salary Guide, flexible schedules and remote work options are the perks many professionals value most. In addition, about a third of the professionals we surveyed said paid parental leave is a big plus.


Wellness offerings

Keeping employees fit — mentally, physically and financially — is just good business. Many leading employers expanded and improved their wellness offerings during the pandemic to help employees feel supported and prioritize their well-being. Stress management programs, retirement planning services and reimbursement for fitness classes are just some examples of what your business might consider providing to employees.


Communication

The shift to hybrid and remote work has underscored the importance of good workplace communication. Your direct reports, whether they work on-site or remotely, should feel they can come to you with ideas, questions and concerns at any time. And as a leader, you need to make sure you’re doing your part to help promote timely, constructive and positive communication across the entire team. Make sure you proactively connect with each team member on a regular basis, too, to get a sense of their workload and job satisfaction.


Continuous feedback on performance

Many employers are abandoning the annual performance review in favor of more frequent meetings with team members. In these one-on-one meetings, talk with your employees about their short- and long-term professional goals and help them visualize their future with the company. While you should never make promises you can’t keep, talk through potential career advancement scenarios together and lay out a realistic plan for reaching those goals.


Recognition and rewards systems

Every person wants to feel appreciated for the work they do. And in today’s “anywhere workforce,” an employer’s gratitude can make an especially big impact. So be sure to thank your direct reports who go the extra mile and explain how their hard work helps the organization. Some companies set up formal rewards systems to incentivize great ideas and innovation, but you can institute compelling recognition programs even if you have a small team or limited budget.


Work-life balance

What message is your time management sending to employees? Do you expect staff to be available around the clock? A healthy work-life balance is essential to job satisfaction. People need to know their managers understand they have lives outside of work — and recognize that maintaining balance can be even more challenging when working from home. Encourage employees to set boundaries and take their vacation time. And if late nights are necessary to wrap up a project, consider giving them extra time off to compensate.


Flexible work arrangements

Many companies understand that even though they have reopened their offices, some of their employees still prefer to work remotely, at least part-time. Not having that option might even spur employees to resign.


Effective change management

Beyond all the recent disruption due to the pandemic, every workplace has to deal with change, good and bad. And employees look to leadership for insight and reassurance during these times. If your organization is going through a big shift, keeping your team as informed as possible helps ease anxieties and manage the rumor mill. Make big announcements either individually or in a group call or meeting, and allow time for questions.


Acknowledgement of milestones, big and small

A final tip for promoting employee retention is to shine a light on notable achievements. Whether your team finishes ahead of the deadline on a major project or a worker reaches a five-year work anniversary, seize the opportunity to mark the milestone together. Even if you need to celebrate virtually, it can be a meaningful and memorable moment for everyone.


Some team members will inevitably leave your organization sooner than you’d like. But you can at least make their decision a little tougher. And if those employees leave you knowing they were valued and supported, they’ll likely say good things about your business and, perhaps, even come back to work for you one day.

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