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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 2021, would suddenly become a wholly different trend: the Great Retention. But research from Robert Half suggests that many workers remain confident about their prospects in the current hiring market, which means employers must still be vigilant about the risk of top performers walking out the door.
Robert Half’s Job Optimism Survey of more than 2,400 professionals, which tracks worker sentiment on current and future career prospects, finds that 41% of respondents are currently looking or plan to look for a new role in the second half of 2022.
View this infographic to see additional results from our survey.
So, now is the time to confirm that your business is doing the right things to help drive employee job satisfaction and, ultimately, the retention of highly valued talent. First, you need to understand why your employees might be looking for a new opportunity — and consider why some team members may have already tendered their resignations.
Why are workers leaving?
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
- 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 14 areas where deliberate action can help boost employees’ job satisfaction and increase your ability to hold onto valued workers:
1. 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 at your firm.
Need to onboard employees remotely? Make sure you have this onboarding checklist, compiled by Trisha Plovie, senior vice president, Future of Work, at Robert Half.
2. 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.
But don’t limit mentorship opportunities to new employees. Your existing staff — and your overall employee retention outlook and team’s job satisfaction — can significantly benefit from mentor-mentee relationships.
3. 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.
View our free Salary Guide to confirm you’re paying your employees competitive wages.
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.
5. 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.
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.
7. 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.
8. Training and development
As part of providing continuous feedback on performance, you can help employees identify areas for professional growth, such as the need to learn new skills. Upskilling your employees is especially important today as technology continues to change how we work. When people upskill, they gain new abilities and competencies as business requirements evolve.
Make it a priority to invest in your workers’ professional development. Give them time to attend virtual conferences, provide tuition reimbursement or pay for continuing education. Also, don’t forget about succession planning, which can be a highly effective method for advancing professional development and building leadership skills.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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. A recent Robert Half survey found that half of professionals working from home would look for a new job if they were required to return to the office full time.
So think sooner than later about what you can offer employees if remote work on a permanent basis isn’t an option. A compressed workweek? Flextime? Or maybe a partial telecommuting option? All of the above can help relieve stress for your team — and boost employee retention.
12. 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.
Need more insight into how to guide your team through change?
13. An emphasis on teamwork
You should encourage all your employees, not just star players, to contribute ideas and solutions. Promote teamwork by creating opportunities for collaboration, accommodating individuals’ work styles and giving everyone the latitude to make decisions and course corrections if needed.
14. 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.
The 14 employee retention strategies outlined above are just some ways to help increase your team members’ job satisfaction. Be sure to re-evaluate your efforts regularly. That includes staying current on market standards for salary and benefits and best practices for developing an attractive workplace culture and strong manager-employee relations.
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 your firm 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.