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Rick Blabolil

Are You Meeting Today’s Employee Retention Challenges?

Among the many difficulties facing today’s organizations, employee retention challenges comes out near the top. Retention is especially critical when we’re talking about high-value employees—the ones with the talent, skills and track record that will take your organization to where you want to go.

But it seems those same employees may have other ideas. A recent study by AchieverGlobal of 738 managers from around the globe revealed that nearly 25 percent said they “were planning to leave their job within the next year.” That’s a huge brain drain and represents a potential drag on organizational growth.

When the survey asked for reasons behind their plans to leave, the top three answers were: lack of growth opportunities, lack of respect, and inadequate compensation. From our experience with reward and retention, we have found that work/life balance is a huge influence on retention, and so are growth opportunities. We also found that having the autonomy to make decisions was another factor and this seems directly related to the “lack of respect” sentiment.

On top of these multiple challenges is the impact of our increasingly diverse workforce. If your organization is of any size, it’s likely that you have up to four generations working alongside each other. Each of those four generations has different expectations of the workplace, different career goals, and responds to different incentives. Finally, within those generations, you have ethnic and cultural diversity as well.

Given these multiple factors, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to meeting retention challenges. However, if we shift our perspective and look at retention through the lens of employee well-being, we may discover new opportunities for meeting those challenges. When we consider employee well-being in the context of individual personalities, we are well on the way toward meeting the multiple retention challenges we face in today’s world.

Let’s see how this looks when applied to the retention challenges we’ve uncovered:

Work/life balance. Our fast-paced, “always on” work environment has created a hunger for work/life balance that cuts across generations. We also know that work/life balance is critical to workforce well-being. Consider giving the issue a deep examination. Would your organization be open to a cell-phone quiet period that would discourage work-related calls after a particular time of day and on weekends, except in the case of genuine emergency? Does your organization support flexible work hours and/or telecommuting? And, if the FMLA applies to your organization, do you make every effort for employees to take advantage of it?

If you dig deep, you’re likely to find more you can do to help your employees achieve greater work/life balance.

Growth opportunities.  Having achievable goals contributes to well-being. Opportunities to advance include achievable goals and can also deepen engagement. Lack of growth opportunities can be stifling—and it can drive your best talent away. So, what constitutes growth opportunities? These opportunities may include such things as moving to another department; learning new skills; serving on cross-functional teams; volunteering for an assignment or task; or taking an on-line class. Broadly speaking, although all generations consider growth opportunities when deciding to join or leave an organization Generation Y has been found to put an especially high value on them.  In any case, supporting opportunities for growth is a well-documented retention strategy, and it benefits both your employees and your organization.

And don’t forget personal growth. Supporting personal growth can be as big as offering sabbaticals or as modest as support for attending off-site seminars or offering lunch-and-learns.

Autonomy and respect.  The importance of autonomy can be measured by the rise of “results only work environments (ROWEs),” that is, where the employee can determine where their work will be performed and how. “Autonomy and independence” were cited as very important to job satisfaction by 48 percent of respondents to a 2012 SHRM survey. This was especially true for executives and middle managers. Higher commitment, better performance and lower turnover have all been linked to greater employee autonomy.

The war for talent is in full swing and whoever wins will establish a competitive advantage. Are you confident that you have the culture and the resources to find and retain the talent you need to win?

More information:

“The Effects of Employee Satisfaction on Company Financial Performance,” a Marketing Innovators white paper.