In Your Quest to Acquire New Talent, Don’t Forget About Retaining the Talent You Have

Talent Retention

Neil Barringham once said, “The grass is always greener where you water it.”  In today’s high-stakes job market, where employers continually find themselves waiting with bated breath for a qualified applicant to submit a resume before madly coordinating interviews and firing off an offer letter only to get locked in battle to court the qualified prospect away from their competitor’s grasp, so often those same desperate employers fail to recognize that they need to invest as much effort if not more to retain the talented employees they already have.  Before posting your next job description, here are some areas you should review to ensure you continue watering your own grass first to keep it healthy before you covet an unknown patch that may only appear to be greener.

Don’t Forget to Take a Look at Compensation for Your Existing Workforce

Often times companies post jobs with the salary range listed in the advertisement or through word of mouth it may end up being discussed around the water cooler by your existing team.  Employees work to make money and they expect to be paid in accordance with their education, skills, talent and also based on their loyalty and tenure.  Offering higher pay to new hires who will be doing a similar role can be the slap in the face that leads a once loyal employee to start looking elsewhere or might be the catalyst to send them packing if they have already been on the hunt for another job.  Employees you already have generally have a significant value and skill set above new hires as they already know the corporate culture, understand processes and procedures and typically have well-established relationships with your clients, vendors and other employees.  They also have culminated tribal knowledge of your company’s inner workings that cannot be transcribed into a training manual and thus is typically lost once that employee leaves for his or her own greener pastures at a higher pay rate on par with what you’re about to pay that newbie.  So why would you set out to pay an outsider more and gain less before paying your existing employee more when they provide you that much more?  Besides, you’ll end up having to pay a candidate to fill their role the same or more as well if they leave.  As part of your Compensation Management strategy, be sure that any information you gain from salary studies you perform in seeking new employees, is applied across your existing workforce as well and, of course, take a look into any gender-based or other minority pay gaps while you’re at it.

Is Your Turnover Rate Particularly High in One Area/Department?

Bad managers also rank among one of the highest reasons employees give for parting ways.  In a tough labor market, having a bad manager in your ranks will have a huge financial and morale impact.  If you note that a particular department has an ongoing issue with employees tendering their resignations, it is likely time you start looking more in depth at the management team to see if you can identify the culprit.  From a productivity standpoint, it would be far better to invest a little money in providing training to a manager who needs improvement or to be searching for a single candidate to step into a management role than constantly having to replace countless production positions “on the front lines.”  Not to mention, those employees who do leave very likely are sharing their manager horror stories by word of mouth with acquaintances and potentially via services with broader reach such as Glassdoor which will make your recruiting efforts even more difficult.

How Are Your Training, Mentor and Succession Planning Programs?

What is your current promotion rate?  How does it rate in relation to your new hire and turnover rate?  According to a 2015 joint study by Addison Group and Kelton, Millennial employees expect to be promoted once every 2 years.  As more Baby Boomers are leaving the workforce and being replaced by Millennials, this expectation is becoming the norm, so your company should be working on a plan to realistically support those Millennials and other key employees deserving of and interested in moving up in the ranks.  The high value employees place in learning and promotional opportunities is also supported by the fact that entry-level employees venturing into the job marketing for the first time, former-stay-at-home parents re-entering the workforce or experienced individuals embarking on a new career path typically are not opposed to taking a position that might be a bit below their skill set and pay grade if they believe there is room for advancement at an employer of choice as they, too, are seeking long-term benefits, stability and a chance to grow ideally with one employer.  The potential for advancement also boosts employee engagement because the most driven employees continually look for new experiences, a chance to gain knowledge and the thrill of trying something new even if within the same role whether or not it has an immediate effect on stepping up the ladder.  People who are continually learning and feel their new-found knowledge and skills are valued by their employer tend to be more resourceful, innovative and open to sharing ideas as well as having a pleasant disposition making for a more harmonious workplace and better customer experience.  By having a dynamic training program in place, you are investing in building the future of your workforce.  While some employers believe they are training their employees to eventually leave, the majority of employers who have a robust training and succession planning programs actually find the opposite with higher retention rates and happier employees.  This can bode well even if your company hits hard times and implements hiring freezes, as employees can continue their training for when better times and advancement opportunities return versus employees who only stay with an existing employer during down times for their paycheck and quickly hit the pavement once the market improves.

How is Your Employee Engagement?

Measuring employee engagement is not an easy feat, but there are some indicators you can look for that might help you gauge when employees are no longer engaged.  Certainly a loss in productivity would be one such indicator, unless an employee is working on a large project or has some other reason for temporarily not producing as they once did such as illness, loss of a loved one, etc.  Not participating in after-work functions or company events unless required is another indicator.  Utilizing more vacation time than is typical, particularly single or partial days here and there could mean they might be interviewing elsewhere.  Avoiding overtime opportunities if they previously sought them might be telling.  While employee surveys can sometimes help provide insights, often employees might not be honest in them for fear of being found out, lack of engagement or may only respond when they have very strong opinions at either end of the spectrum – very satisfied vs. very dissatisfied.  Updates to LinkedIn profiles are also a red flag and if you never have any existing employees referring friends or former colleagues for open positions, then it is very likely your employees are not happy working for you themselves.

Do You Have an Employee Appreciation Program to Help Boost Engagement and Job Satisfaction?

Everyone loves to be recognized for their valuable contributions in realizing corporate objectives and/or successfully completing a project.  Move beyond simply processing employee paychecks and thinking that is reward enough and implement a variety of simple awards to encourage your entire team to recognize each other.  Need some ideas?  Here is another blog post you might appreciate: 6 Employee Appreciation Awards That Encourage Employees to Show Each Other Some Love.

Do You Have Systems in Place to Measure All of the Above?

With a comprehensive human capital management solution like Checkmate HCM, you can capture and analyze employee and workforce data that can provide valuable insights to your existing workforce while allowing you to manage your talent acquisition efforts with online recruiting and applicant tracking for new additions, providing the right tool to strike the ideal balance between caring for your existing employees and searching for new talent.   By automating day-to-day administrative tasks, streamlining redundant, time-consuming processes and providing ease of use and autonomy for HR, management, employees and c-level executives, your company can yield more valuable, accurate workforce data versus the garbage-in, garbage-out corrupted data often derived from integrated solutions.  From employees clocking in and out, accessing pay stubs and managing benefit elections to managers approving time off requests, collaborating with HR on interviews and new hires, and completing timely performance reviews to providing the HR and the C-Suite with the data necessary to make informed decisions on workforce needs, the entire team will truly start to see the role of HR beyond just a cost center and benefit from your HCM strategy.  Get access to all your most accurate workforce data and KPIs such as those listed in this article to make sure you are tending to your grass and not suffering from another well-known cliche – “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

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