When Retention Requires Attention

Keeping retention rates high is a priority for any organization, but what happens when it starts to slip?

In a new piece on Fast Company, contributor Lydia Dishman delves into the question of how to stop an exodus of workers that the Bureau of National Affairs has estimated costs employers $11 billion annually.

The reasons for workers to seek greener pastures are often manifold, Dishman notes:

Overall, the latest Gallup report found that a record 47% of the workforce says now is a good time to find a quality job, and more than half of employees (51%) are searching for new jobs or watching for openings. Gallup found that this is due in part to a national employee engagement rate currently hovering at just 30%.

Workers also switch employers to get a salary bump that can go above the traditional annual cost of living raise that hovers around 3%, barely outpacing inflation. Right Management, ManpowerGroup’s global career and talent development expert, polled 4,600 workers globally, and found 1 in 5 people are simply in the wrong role.

A new report from Ceridian, based on a survey of 1,602 U.S. and Canadian employees, revealed that even generational differences are influencing the urge to jump ship. Over a third (33%) of gen-Xers were actively looking for work versus just 22% of millennials and gen-Z. Those between the ages of 18-29 did say that they wouldn’t stick with one employer for more than five years.

Despite these survey results, Dishman quotes an expert who says other factors are also influencing younger workers’ desire to change employers, including a company’s culture.

“Ziprecruiter’s CEO Ian Seigel, agrees that workplace culture is the biggest and most direct driver in turnover. But Seigel says they’re looking beyond feedback and clear communication of opportunities to advance.

Seventy-five percent of millennials want flexibility that also keeps them on promotion tracks,” Seigel notes. That’s why he recommends that managers take a closer look at what motivates their teams, and how to diverge from traditional best practices in order to retain them.

In order for companies to figure out whether employees are leaving because of the culture, Dishman quotes Fran Katsoudas, Cisco’s chief people officer, who suggests that managers listen and engage with their team regularly.

“If you understand your team dynamics, the individuals on your team, and their strengths,” she explains, “you will have a much better lens on what is going well or where there are challenges.” She encourages leaders to show their vulnerability and take ownership of what is not working, which is key to getting to the root causes of people retreating.

Another way to do this, Katsoudas tells Dishman, is “to use data and analytics. Cisco has a weekly check-in tool, quarterly surveys, and regular feedback from every monthly and quarterly event.

“When employees know that their manager is regularly listening to them, the impact is significant,” she says.