Spokane Journal of Business

Retaining quality employees is mission critical

Employers should share worker-value proposition

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Hiring managers, human resources professionals, or business owners will all tell you that finding quality employees is difficult.

The current labor market is challenging in ways we haven’t encountered before. Nearly 48 million people left their jobs in 2021. Baby boomers are retiring faster than they can be replaced and taking with them a generation of institutional knowledge, and a pandemic-inspired general reprioritization has resulted in a large portion of the workforce viewing their professional lives much differently.

Given the challenges of the current environment, it is critical that we are doing everything we can as organizations to retain our quality employees, and this includes staying current in regard to what employees truly value. Being responsive to the needs of today’s workforce also will help attract future high-quality candidates.

We will explore three key areas of importance to today’s employee. When we design strategies that support those areas, it will serve to retain valued team members. These areas of focus include organizational culture, opportunities for development, and support for employee wellness.

Today’s workforce places great importance in a healthy, diverse organizational culture. Team members value a supportive environment that offers an attractive employee value proposition and a strong company mission with values.

An employee-value proposition is the set of benefits that an employee receives in return for the skills, capabilities, and experience they bring to a company. Take a moment to view your organization’s value proposition from the employee perspective.

People want to be a part of a company that hires based on its values and mission and then lives that mission. Hiring employees in accordance with your company values is an imperative employee-retention strategy. Research shows several keys to retaining top talent: being clear about the organization’s values, hiring those that can support those values, and ensuring that the mission is something more than a plaque on a conference room wall.

Today’s workforce places a high value on the availability of development opportunities. Our team members want to grow and learn, and they value being a part of an organization that offers those types of opportunities. Some critical aspects of development include:

Excelling at onboarding. We understandably associate onboarding with the hiring process, but it is a key part of keeping that new hire in the organization. When new to our organization, individuals often feel unsettled and disconnected, but there is much that can be done by the organization to minimize that discomfort. When we provide a new employee with a thorough, organized onboarding experience, they are introduced to the organization at its best. The experience allows them to feel confident in their decision to accept the role and to look positively toward a future with the organization.

Paying market-related compensation and benefits. This is arguably not the most important factor, but it’s a factor nonetheless. Employers should strive to be as responsive as possible to market conditions.

Focusing on professional development. Whether offered internally or externally, work to support your employees’ learning journey by offering professional development opportunities, including leadership development opportunities. Whether it is sending team members to an industry conference, paying for a professional membership, or developing an internal growth program, this access to development will go a long way to keep valued employees on your teams.

Rewarding conscientious employees. It is not uncommon for organizations to get in the habit of offering little support to our most hardworking, conscientious team members. After all, they are doing good work and asking for very little, but they need support as well. 

Engaging with these top performers is key to retaining them. Explore creative ways to acknowledge their great work and loyalty that are tailored to how they prefer to be recognized. Many organizations are offering “innovation bonuses” to high-performing employees.

Today’s workforce is recognizing that health is true wealth. Recent research shows that as much as 50% of turnover can be attributed to burnout. There are many ways to promote wellness.

Provide flexible working options. In some roles, remote work isn’t an option—that’s fair. What other opportunities for flexibility can you explore? Much of today’s workforce appreciates the versatility of a hybrid schedule or flex time. Try not to get stuck in rigid (possibility outdated) systems that don’t allow for more innovative solutions.

Advocate for work-life balance. Are your team members using their paid time off? Recent studies show that individuals who take vacations are more likely to get raises and be promoted. Support reasonable working hours and the establishment of strong boundaries. 

Ensure your environment is one that encourages healthy approaches to work, not one where employees feel they have to apologize for using the very benefits they were given.

Promote wellness initiatives. Whether it is an on-site workout facility, a mental health counseling benefit, or a monthly massage voucher, healthy employees tend to be happier employees. Happy employees are more likely to contribute fully and stick around.

Much of today’s workforce consists of individuals who have clear priorities and the opportunities to seek out the roles and workplaces that best align with those priorities. As organizations, it makes sense to invest in staying ahead of the curve in order to retain our valued, hardworking team members. 

This investment will be most impactful when supported by a highly functioning internal environment reflective of strong organizational values.

  • René Johnston

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