By Carly Holm, Founder and CEO of Humani HR, a proud sponsor of the WPO.
Prior to the last decade, employees were likely to stay with their employer for a long time - often for their entire career. However, over the past several years, due to economic, systemic, and generational shifts in society, this preference of employees has shifted in the other direction. Today’s employees seek new experiences, new challenges, and are more likely to leave for a change after a short period of time. This doesn’t have to be the case. For employers who want to keep their talent, focusing on employee retention is now more crucial than ever.
This proves true all over North America. According to CNBC, 4.2 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in November 2022, making it the 18th record-breaking month in a row for resignations in the United States. In Canada, half of the national workforce is looking for a change in work in 2023, according to Robert Half. With terms like “quiet quitting” and “RTO” (“return to office”) becoming common vernacular, employers are feeling the strain the return to a pre-pandemic world is putting on their workforce. Intuition might tell leaders to focus more on recruitment and hiring – to prepare to bring on new employees for those you will inevitably lose. But what if that isn’t the best defense?
First, let’s identify who is leaving their jobs, and why.
According to a survey by Gallup last year, a huge portion of the job-hopping we see on the market is due to a change in mindset by millennials. In their survey, Gallup found that:
- 60% of millennials report being open to a new job opportunity (15% higher than other generations).
- 21% report having changed jobs in the last year (more than three times the percentage of non-millennials).
- 36% report they will look for a new job within the next year if the market improves (only 21% of non-millennials say the same).
- Of all generations, millennials are the most likely to leave a job for any reason.
While it is certainly true that millennials are not the only folks looking for other work, they are the most significant contributors to the fluctuation in the current job market. This is important because millennials (and their younger cousins now joining the workplace, Gen Z) account for a huge portion of the workforce in a world still reeling from the pandemic shifts in business.
Regardless of the generation workers belong to, the reasons they are leaving are largely the same. According to multiple studies, the most common reason employees leave their positions to include:
- Higher compensation
- Better benefits and perks
- Greater flexibility in when and how they can work
- Advancement opportunities and plans for growth
Why you need to retain employees, not just recruit more.
Employee turnover is much more than an inconvenience. In fact, it’s going to have a significant impact on your organization’s bottom line. According to a study done by Zenefits last year, it will cost roughly 20% of an employee’s salary to replace them. The cost isn’t only monetary - more than three-quarters of business owners in the same survey reported negative aspects of turnover such as:
- Delays to products or services
- Loss of productivity
- Decrease in morale across teams
- Legal and HR issues
Recruitment is another problem that businesses will have to tackle if they begin losing employees. In 2017, a study found that the hiring process took 36 days on average – a number that has only been increasing in the subsequent years. This does not take into account the amount of time it takes the new hire to get trained to the same level as the employee they are replacing. This also shifts the focus of management away from the business and towards hiring efforts.
So what can your company do to keep your workers?
Now that we have covered why it is important to retain your employees, there is good news on the horizon - with some effort, you can retain top talent to avoid that revolving door of employees. While organizations are not always in a space to immediately offer higher compensation or better benefits, employees are reporting that they want much more than just monetary benefits from their work. This is different from the historical norm. Other top needs that are important to employees:
- Knowing their role progression at their organization
- Feeling a sense of engagement in their work
- Having opportunities to grow and learn
- Being provided with flexibility in terms of work schedule and/or location
These desires from employees in the workplace are not only “free” - they are attainable through communication, feedback, and standards of practice being part of company culture. A worthwhile way to provide employees with these needs is to invest time and effort into career progression planning for your employees. This is important for organizations of any size.
How can you implement career progression planning at your organization?
We have identified why talent may leave a job, what it will take to replace them, and what would be needed to keep them. Now let’s take a look at how you can implement the necessary changes at your company to make employee retention a priority.
Career progression planning may sound like a simple plan for how an employee can gain a promotion or a raise, but it’s much more than that. This system encompasses aspects of performance management, productive feedback, communication, and opportunities for learning on both sides (for workers and leaders, alike). These actions include:
- Identifying employees’ goals and objectives
- Opening conversations about engagement
- Giving employees stretch opportunities
- Building performance management and support into progression
- Discussing flexibility around a work schedule, environment, and location
- Holding space for feedback (giving and receiving)
- Creating community opportunities (group meetings, out-of-work activities, new benefits or perks) around employee goals and passions
The bottom line.
We are in a state of flux in the job market that isn’t going away anytime soon and we are still adjusting to the effects of the ongoing pandemic. The new generations are shifting the way the workforce functions and employees are more willing than ever before to switch employers.
Losing an employee, hiring another, and dealing with the transition in between will cost your organization significantly. Rather than scrolling endless news about “quiet quitting” and how younger generations are impacting our economy, you have the power to implement programs that maintain consistency at your organization. Your leaders have opportunities to take action and plan for the future – one where your current employees are happy to stay where they are.
About the Author
Carly Holm is the Founder and CEO of Humani HR, which helps small and medium-sized businesses with all aspects of their HR & People Operations. Carly’s passion for both business and HR started early, earning a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a major in Human Resources more than 15 years ago. She subsequently spent a decade at CIBC and Bank of America in both Canada and the US, working as an HR Business Partner and in HR Change Management.
Being a business owner herself, Carly is passionate about helping the founders and executives of small and medium-sized businesses grow their companies by elevating their People Operations. She began Humani HR with the mission of creating a successful business with an incredible workplace, while in turn supporting clients who are doing the same. As recognition for her success, Carly was awarded the prestigious Forty Under 40 Award in 2022 for Canada’s National Capital Region.
Outside of work, Carly loves spending time with her husband and their 3 young boys, cooking, skiing, and staying active.
Contact Carly: email@example.com