The economy revved up in 2014, and that’s good for business. Unemployment is at it’s lowest point since 2009 at 5.6%, and that’s great for employees. Except for one major caveat. Employee wages have remained stagnant over the last five years, and even took a dip in December 2014.
The combination of available job opportunities and stagnant wages puts employers in a position of greater risk. Due to this risk, Human Resources Executives need to evaluate their current retention strategy in an effort to protect the organization.
Here are 5 strategies you must consider:
1. Interview Process
HR Executives need to ask, are we hiring great people? And what is our process in doing so?
Hiring great people is easier said than done. But there are things you can do to increase your odds. The first thing you want to do is make sure you’ve properly defined the profile(s) of your most successful employees across multiple departments and locations. You’ve likely got several profiles of success, but look for the commonalities within them.
Once you’ve defined the success profiles, make sure to review your interviewing process. You need a consistent interviewing process that helps uncover a candidate’s potential fit in accordance with your defined success profile(s). And the feedback should be documented in your applicant tracking system for your team to review and compare notes.
The thought of implementing a new interviewing process is daunting. But the alternative of not having one brings extreme risk of attrition, or worse, hiring bad employees.
One interviewing process to consider is Topgrading. It’s an interviewing structure that has proven to support successful hiring. It can be highly involved, but you can also embrace pieces of the process.
At a minimum, Topgrading is a must read for HR Executives with a desire to create a consistent interviewing process.
2. Learning Management
Does your company have a culture of teaching? Are there positive examples in your organization of employees growing personally and professionally? Those stories are critical, and can be a huge asset to offset attrition.
The positive stories of personal and professional growth usually start with an employee learning from a manager or co-worker. And it’s not typically the type of learning you get sitting at a computer by yourself. Are there good online systems for learning? Yes. But nothing can replace the in-person transfer of knowledge from one person to another.
This puts a premium on hiring great leaders who can teach. That’s the priority when it comes to learning management. You need online systems to support the process, but hiring leaders who teach is far more significant. The impact of a lesson is far less when the curriculum is not clearly seen in practice.
In Good To Great, author Jim Collins stresses the importance of getting the right people on the bus. If you’ve hired great people, your path to creating a teaching culture becomes much easier. And why is this so important? Because job seekers consistently cite professional growth and development as a top criteria in selecting a new employer.
Hire people that are great leaders and teachers, and you’ll reduce the risk of attrition in your organization.
3. Employee Empowerment
HR executives are hearing a great deal about “employee engagement”. However, you may want to first ask yourself how your company empowers employees.
If your company is hiring great people, and has a culture of teaching, empowerment is a natural fit. Top performing employees tend to be problem-solvers, and have intuition into making the company better at what it does. Empowering employees requires trust, and employees who feel trusted are less likely to leave your organization.
Empowering employees doesn’t have to rely on a formal process. Do you need a record of an employee’s performance? Yes. Should you wait until the bi-annual performance review to give top employees more responsibility? No.
The key is to provide top employees with a challenge impacting your business, put them in charge of the challenge, and develop a way to measure their progress. A manager can even develop the measurements together with their employees. Again, the manager is a critical component to making empowerment work.
Employees who feel empowered and trusted are less likely to leave. Don’t wait on your formal employee review process to empower your employees. Teach your managers to look for these opportunities on a more frequent basis.
4. Internal Mobility
Do your employees see their position as a stepping stone? And is it a stepping stone to a position inside, or outside, of your organization?
The case for retention is made stronger when a top performer can see, and can apply for, new and exciting opportunities within the company.
If you want to retain top talent, a clear career path is essential. There’s an opportunity to inspire employees with possibilities inside the organization. It’s HR’s job to make sure internal mobility is a focus. You cannot put all of this responsibility on department managers.
Managers tend to want to keep top performers on their team. While this may be good for the manager, it isn’t always good for your company. You can impact this by making internal mobility a two-way street. If managers start receiving quality candidates from inside the organization their perspective can change. And that’s necessary to make internal mobility work.
Provide employees with visibility into various departments, locations, and projects. But do so while working closely with your hiring managers to build an internal hiring pipeline.
5. Compensation and Benefits
Are you researching sites like Glassdoor to see where your organization ranks on compensation and benefits? You’ve got to have clear visibility as to how you rank. Your organization cannot afford to be reactive with compensation and benefits. That’s an invitation for attrition.
Employees still rank compensation and benefits near the top of their needs list. The two items aren’t optional, and employees won’t typically stay long without them. This isn’t likely to change, and you’ve got to be progressive to keep your best people.
Another step in evaluating your compensation and benefits is to ask top employees, and departing employees, about their perspective. Solicit honest answers to see what you are doing well, and what you’re not. Look at the areas for improvement, and be clear with executive leadership that this will create risk in keeping top employees. While you cannot guarantee action, you can communicate that you are aware of the situation to leadership, managers, and employees.
Communicating awareness of your gaps in compensation and benefits is a great start to reducing attrition. Ultimately you’ll have to take appropriate actions, but keeping all parties aware and involved reduces your risk.
Put the “Human” in Human Resources
Everything isn’t rosy at your company. You know it, and your employees know it. Even the greatest brands in the world have immense challenges. Make sure that your approach to reducing attrition is “human”.
We’re dealing with people, and empathy is a powerful quality for HR Executives to exhibit. The ability to understand the perspective of your leadership, management, and employees allows you to approach situations objectively. And objectivity fosters the “human” element in Human Resources.
Attrition is a scary issue, and can bring down a company. Hiring great people using a consistent interviewing process, creating a teaching culture, trusting employees, providing new opportunities, and being honest about compensation and benefits will help you identify with the human element in your company. And being human will increase your ability to retain top employees.
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