Employers are scrambling to find the best mix of workplace culture, policies, and benefits to battle their retention woes. Based on the following statistics, they have an uphill battle:
- The U.S. employment rate is 4.1%.
- According to the 2017 Mind the Workplace report, 71 percent of survey respondents were thinking about, or actively looking for new job opportunities.
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employees are only staying in a job on average for 1.5 years.
Given the current employee-friendly job market, employers must find ways to retain their best employees. To win the retention battle, employers must:
- Learn to shift their mindset from only looking at employees who have the desired experience to considering employees who have potential to grow into a position. This practice broadens the opportunities for current employees. Many of our employees are capable of learning new skills or new tasks. Often employees leave because their work isn’t challenging, or they are seeking more meaningful work or more autonomy. Usually, employers can overcome these obstacles by assigning work that stretches employees beyond their current experience level. An added benefit of considering potential is that these employees bring a different perspective. They question and challenge processes and procedures which help employers rethink the “this is the way we always did it” tradition.
- Develop an accurate record of their employees’ skills. Many employee training records only contain information on formal education, conferences and training. Most don’t include skills employees learned from volunteer work or positions held in professional, civic or nonprofit organizations. These skills should count towards the employee experience. Adding these skills to your training database give you an accurate picture of your talent pool, and can help you better match employees to potential opportunities.
- Reevaluate job descriptions to see if positions can be changed to reflect what workers desire in the workplace. Meaningful work must replace mindless work; challenging work must replace boring work. Consider what could be added to a position to make the job more rewarding. Sometimes it is best to redesign a job versus losing an employee who has valuable institutional knowledge.
- Help employees to see that career moves don’t always have to be upward. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, said she’s seen too many people stagnate professionally, and avoid making potentially beneficial moves into new industries or job functions, because they think of their careers as linear paths, where the only direction is up. Helping employees see different career paths can also aid in retention.
One argument against this way of thinking is the time it takes to train less experienced employees. But all experience is not good experience, and the cost of jobs left unfilled and the cost of replacing an employee usually outweigh the training time. Also, you will be surprised how quickly a motivated employee will advance along the learning curve. So, give these tips a try, and reap the benefits of thinking just a little differently about employee retention.