Ask This Question When Building Your Retention Strategy

“Alexa, build my retention strategy.”

If only solving the employee retention puzzle were as straightforward as a voice command. However, the solution might be simpler than you think.

Navigating the present workforce landscape requires only a glance at recent news headlines to confirm what we’re already aware of: employees across sectors are departing their positions at an unprecedented pace. The financial toll of employee turnover runs into millions, underscoring the urgency for every company to integrate robust employee retention tactics this year.

Whether it’s dubbed The Great Resignation, The Great Attrition, or The Great Realization, there’s one simple step to confront this challenge: ask your employees what they want.

Initiate conversations with former employees to comprehend their reasons for leaving. Conduct stay interviews with current staff to uncover the factors that anchor them, as well as potential triggers for future departures.

These dialogues might feel uncomfortable initially, but they will unveil invaluable insights, directing your investments and enhancements towards bolstering employee retention amidst this era of extraordinary attrition.

Realigning Assumptions with Reality

survey by McKinsey & Company exposes a gap between employers’ perceptions of why employees quit and the genuine catalysts behind such decisions.

Employers’ presumed drivers of turnover:

  • Work-life balance
  • Physical and emotional well-being
  • Compensation

Interestingly, compensation emerges as the primary cause for fewer than 1 in 10 departing employees. The survey proposes that while well-meaning, pay hikes and bonuses might inadvertently convey a transactional view, rather than one valuing employees holistically.

Though these factors indeed matter to employees, their significance doesn’t align with managers’ beliefs. When employees are asked, they reveal distinct reasons for their departures:

  • 54% don’t sense appreciation from their organizations
  • 52% don’t feel valued by their managers
  • 51% lack a sense of belonging at work

Ask, Then Act

Tailoring your employee retention strategy to tackle these concerns will differ for each individual and organization, but initiating a dialogue is the initial step.

Below are common examples of what employees seek from their employers, emphasizing relational aspects over transactional ones:

Nurture their career trajectory

Provide paid professional development, continuous training, and mentorship. Illustrate advancement pathways within the company and assist them in progressing.

Foster shared objectives

Clear goals instill purpose, ownership, and motivation. Employees need to feel like contributors, not mere cogs.

Embrace flexibility

Accommodate delayed starts for those managing family commitments. After a late workday, permit early exits before the weekend. Ponder hybrid or fully remote work options if viable. A little flexibility goes a long way.

Respect boundaries

Acknowledging employees’ lives outside of work is crucial. Establish and adhere to limits regarding after-hours and weekend work expectations. People work to live, not the other way around.

Extend recognition and praise

Demonstrating appreciation, whether through company-wide announcements, emails, or platforms like Cooleaf, yields substantial positive effects.

Display empathy

The foremost business is people. Compassion and understanding as leadership traits elevate job performance.

Foster communication

Preventing information gaps is vital. Cultivate transparent communication through regular one-on-ones, ongoing feedback, and structured check-ins with newcomers. Employ an internal communication hub for vital company updates.

Cultivate community

Forge a shared sense of belonging. Whether virtual or in-person, community-building elevates engagement.

Champion diversity and inclusion

A Deloitte study reveals that 39% of respondents would switch to an inclusive workplace where authenticity and genuine relationships thrive.

Infuse fun at work

Offer employees the autonomy to log off a bit early for activities like break room trivia or prize wheel spins. Incorporate enjoyable elements like spirit weeks, milestone celebrations, virtual team challenges, and other lighthearted activities.

Assume Nothing

In designing your company’s employee retention strategies, avoid making assumptions about what employees desire. Engage directly with them, as their perspectives might pleasantly surprise you. Incorporate their insights to shape your retention strategy for next year — and beyond.