With ongoing talent shortages predicted to continue till at least 2030, the need to retain employees has never been greater. But after the upheaval and disruption of the last several years, employers are finding that the old retention methods aren’t always sufficient to keep good people. Workers are increasingly questioning the role of work in their lives and will likely leave an organization when they feel like there’s no career path.
Here are six ways to drive retention for the Future of Work:
1. Improve Development Opportunities Across the Company
Development isn’t just for current jobs, promotion purposes, or high-potential and high-performing employees. Wise leaders are expanding development opportunities across their companies and encouraging employees at all levels to pursue the development that feeds their career goals.
2. Ask Employees What They Want
Maybe it seems obvious, but some organizations may need the occasional reminder that surveying employees can help define what they want in a workplace. Asking the right questions on an employee survey can help leaders narrow down those particular needs employees have but may not always express. Once those needs are more apparent, leaders can start to address the real issues leading to attrition.
3. Don’t Underestimate the Value of Culture
For some employees, company culture can be why they stay. Finding a clear purpose and vision at an organization with a vibrant and fulfilling culture can be enough to stay even when other traditional retention factors aren’t there.
4. Encourage Employees to “Squiggle”
Authors Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis suggest that employers should make career experiments easy for employees. They suggest that people who are allowed to “squiggle”—that is, to try new positions and experiences within the organization—are more likely to “squiggle and stay.” Employers must address the obstacles preventing people from looking for internal positions to keep good employees from leaving.
5. Make an Effort to Connect
A recent McKinsey survey indicated that “uncaring and uninspiring leaders” was a factor for 34% of people who changed jobs between April 2021 and April 2022. When many employees feel disconnected, discouraged, or frustrated, leaders should try to connect and encourage connection across the company.
6. Address the Human Needs Employees Have
Employees are not widgets or machines. Putting aside the need for an income, employees have genuine human needs and are increasingly leaving jobs that don’t fill those needs. Take the time to understand the three human needs every employee has, and talk to employees about how their roles can better meet those needs. What needs to change if the roles they are in don’t meet those needs? Have these conversations with direct reports, and encourage other leaders to do the same.
Leaders know that it’s more efficient and less costly to keep good employees than to replace them, but retention is a complex formula with various individual factors. By taking the time to talk to individual employees and expanding their approach to retention beyond traditional methods, leaders can improve engagement and employee experience and improve their chances of holding onto talented people for the long term.
- What is one way we can expand development opportunities to more people?
- How often do I have a frank and open career and retention conversations with my team members?
- Do employees feel free to try new positions in our organization? Why or why not?