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5 Employee Retention Tips to Prevent Top Talent from Walking Out

author Written by Dean Mathews March 12, 2020

quick guide to build

In a recent SHRM survey, 83% of the respondents said they've had difficulty in recruiting suitable candidates for their job openings in the past 12 months.

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This talent shortage underscores the fact that when you find top talent, you have to do everything in your power to keep them. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially since the employee retention numbers aren't exactly working in your favour:

  • 25% of employees are planning to leave their jobs within the year
  • 33% of high-potential employees admit to not being fully engaged in their work
  • There's a 10% to 20% increase in the number of workers who "ghost" their employers
  • The cost of replacing an individual employee can be up to two times the employee's annual salary

So, how do you make your top employees stay? These 5 tips are a great place to start:

Recruit to Retain

HR leaders must realize employee retention begins with solid recruitment. As Nfrastructure CEO Dan Pickett explains: "Retention starts right from the beginning, from the application process to screening applicants to choosing who to interview. It starts with identifying what aspects of culture and strategy you want to emphasize, and then seeking those out in your candidates."

Hiring candidates with the skills to do the job well, and who are also aligned with your organization's values, culture, and ways of working, increases your employee retention rate.

This is why it comes as no surprise that HR leaders and recruitment experts are using new recruitment strategies and technologies such as artificial intelligence to find candidates who are not only capable of doing the job but also fit well with their organizations.

Invest in Technology to Boost Engagement and Productivity

Speaking of artificial intelligence, workplace technology plays a crucial role in retaining top talent. This is especially important because Millennials and Gen Z are expected to dominate the workforce in the next few years. By 2025, Millennials and Gen Z are expected to make up 75% of the total workforce.

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Technology will play a crucial role in attracting and retaining this young talent, especially Gen Z. As explained by Business Woman Guide founder Laura Gayle: "Millennials love their technology, but Gen Z takes their affection for technology to an entirely new level. They're the first true digital natives, as they can't remember a time without the internet, and many of them have grown up in the age of IoT. Gen Zers are rarely seen without their smartphones or another connected gadget in hand - tech is automatically their "go-to" solution."

Tech-savvy talent naturally gravitates toward tech-savvy companies. Organizations need to make a conscious effort to modernize their offices.

Digitally transforming your workplace can be overwhelming, though, both in terms of effort and financial investment. Fortunately, you can start with baby steps and make sure you have the basics covered, prioritizing the following:

  • Human resource management systems for recruiting and workforce management
  • Productivity systems such as office time clock software
  • Employee engagement systems such as self-service portals, feedback platforms, and cloud-based training resources

Create Flexible Work Arrangements

A survey by online job site FlexJobs revealed that one-third of employees reported leaving a company because it didn't offer flexible work options.

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FlexJobs CEO Sara Sutton explains: "In a tight labour market, companies cannot afford to ignore the value employees place on having flexible work options, but leaders also can't dismiss the very real bottom-line impact offering flexibility has on their employees' productivity and retention rates. The flexible job market is currently very robust, so flexible job seekers are also feeling empowered to seek jobs that are more compatible with their life."

In the past, a flexible work arrangement was a nice-to-have: a rare benefit offered by a few companies. Today, it's an expectation that a majority of employees have and an important employee engagement strategy if companies want to be competitive in retaining top talents.

This brings the discussion back to technology. One of the prerequisites of having the ability to offer flexible work is having the technology to enable employees to do their work efficiently wherever they are while still being able to track their productivity. The technology eliminates the need for employees to work 100% of the time in your physical office because you can create a "virtual workplace" where communication, collaboration, accountability, and high productivity can still happen.

Take Ambitions Seriously

While some employees are okay with slow and steady career growth, talented employees know what they can bring to the table. They're ambitious and they join organizations where they see clear paths for advancement.

Make sure that you pave the way for top talent to progress in your organization. Care about their ambitions. Recognize their career aspirations, assure them that they can fulfil their ambitions in your company, and take concrete steps to back up your promises.

Use Time-Tested Employee Retention Practices

You don't always have to reinvent the wheel. You can take tried-and-tested best practices and make some tweaks to suit your evolving needs.

For instance, it's common practice for employees who resigned to undergo exit interviews. However, it's not so common to hear top-performing employees who are invited by an organization's leaders for a "stay interview." A stay interview is basically a meeting with a valued employee and the leaders of the organization to know what would make that employee keep working in the company.

Game Over for High Employee Turnover

Losing your best employees means losing your most effective problem solvers, your most creative innovators, and your most reliable growth drivers.

Fortunately, there are concrete steps and strategies that you can take to prevent your company from experiencing a debilitating talent drain. Combined, the 5 tips outlined above will provide a tangible and significant improvement in your company's employee retention.

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