I’m at the SHRM Talent Management Conference in Nashville this week. This morning I attended a session on improving employee retention by Linda Ginac at TalentGuard. Here are some thoughts on that topic…
Turnover is real
With average employee turnover by generation standing at 2 years (Millenials), 5 years (Gen X), and 7 years (Boomers), turnover is a real issue for organizations everywhere. According to a recent study, the average turnover in the US is 15% with just over 10% of that being voluntary/preventable.
So, what are you going to do about it?
[Related: Check out this employee retention video]
Each employee is more than their job title
How many in the room have had jobs other than HR?
Approximately 80% of the hands went up.
How many companies leverage that diverse experience?
Approximately 2% of the hands went up, and HR isn’t alone.
Organizations have people in roles with a variety of backgrounds, interests, and skill levels. I admit it’s very easy to see software engineer A as a copy of software engineer B. But what if software engineer B speaks Chinese, develops code in his off hours, and enjoys helping the business development manager when possible? If the organization continues to treat them the same, there will probably come a time where software engineer B is ready to move on, whether to another job internally or to a position with another organization.
[Related: Check out the free employee retention eBook]
Career development to the rescue
Employees = disengaged if they are not getting the career dev. attention/resources when they are ready to advance. #SHRMTalent
— Ben Eubanks (@beneubanks) April 28, 2014
The speaker made a great point about timing. If an employee gets as far as digging into the website and looking at the internal portal for information on how to advance their career, it’s safe to bet that they are becoming disengaged with their work. That’s why it’s critical for managers to be able to have career development discussions with their staff. This should happen regularly, but it should also be available for discussion at the employee’s request.
If you are a large organization with various types of operations, it is in your best interest to identify the solid performers and do what you can to keep them on board. If it means transferring them to another job that they want to do, then do it. Moving a talented performer around might cause some extra paperwork, but if the alternative is them leaving the organization for another employer, then you really don’t have a choice, right?
Instead of looking at employees as resources to be hoarded, look at them as resources to be shared. Find other areas that they are interested in and look for ways to get them there. Look for their areas of strength and give them more opportunities to use them. You don’t own the people, so don’t try to hold them back from doing what they love.
The tools to make it happen
When it comes to features of an HRIS, many HR pros only look for a place to store their core HR data. Part of that is a holdover from the transactional HR mindset, but part of that is also due to the cost/complexity. Most small HR shops don’t have the manpower or support to manage large systems. The issue is that only allows them to track things like employee data, benefits, etc. It doesn’t go into the areas that are critical for tracking and assisting with career development: skills, qualifications, experience, training, education, work history, etc.
And if the system includes those, it can miss out on the employee-centric part of career development: career interests, work style, preferences, etc.
The important thing to remember here is that it’s not just a repository for information. It needs to be interactive, searchable, editable, and accessible. Static information doesn’t do much for anyone, especially in a discussion like career development that can be based on rapidly changing factors.
A new direction for career discussions
Consider offering a career dev option of stepping back into a less stressful/difficult role to help decelerate boomers. #shrmtalent
— Ben Eubanks (@beneubanks) April 28, 2014
Consider the thought of allowing senior level employees to step back in terms of stress and difficulty to help retain them. It might surprise you how many of your people who are considering retirement might actually prefer to stick around, albeit in a different role.
You don’t necessarily have to encourage it (usually encouraging older workers to step back is considered potentially illegal); however, if you have people who are serious about retiring, consider offering that option as an alternative to losing them altogether.
If you do it, promote it
So we know that career development works. But did you also realize you can use that to help improve retention for other employees and attract more candidates? If you’re going through the trouble of doing it, then you should share it as well.
Share the data! For example, “last year we had 50 employees take advantage of our career development opportunities.” Or “50% of our staff say they are regularly having development discussions with their managers.” That helps existing staff see how important the practice is, and it also allows candidates to decide beforehand if they want to join an organization that is upward mobility-oriented.
[Related: How Chipotle reduced turnover by 64%]