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Attracting and retaining talent: 8 strategies for employee retention

We all felt a shift in the way we work during the pandemic. In the US alone, almost 100 million people quit their jobs between 2021 and 2022. Now, on the other side, the after-effects of the Great Resignation continue to impact global business. Perhaps due to the existential angst generated by COVID-19, workers around the world began reevaluating their approach to employment, putting their worth and wellbeing first. For example, a recent study found that over half of all employees questioned were currently looking for another job with better pay or working conditions.

We all felt a shift in the way we work during the pandemic. In the US alone, almost 100 million people quit their jobs between 2021 and 2022. Now, on the other side, the after-effects of the Great Resignation continue to impact global business. Perhaps due to the existential angst generated by COVID-19, workers around the world began reevaluating their approach to employment, putting their worth and wellbeing first. For example, a recent study found that over half of all employees questioned were currently looking for another job with better pay or working conditions.

Whether you’ve already felt the effects of this on employee retention, or you’re concerned about the future of job satisfaction within your company, now is the time to shore up your business with effective strategies for employee retention. What’s more, the strategies you implement for talent retention can also help you both attract and engage employees. This is especially critical when you consider that 6 in 10 of the world’s workers are considered “quiet quitters” – meaning that, whilst technically still employed, they have mentally checked-out of the job.

Why do employees quit their jobs?

Before we begin, it’s important to make a note of the reasons why employees tend to quit their jobs. With many employees confident that they could find better work elsewhere, it’s helpful to know what their reasons for leaving might be, in order to mitigate them.

  • Unhappy with their salary or hourly rate
  • Feeling undervalued and/or under-challenged
  • Don’t see any room for growth or advancement within the company
  • Feeling burnt out, overworked, and under-supported
  • Unhappy with their managers and/or the company culture
  • Want a healthier, more manageable work-life balance

8 effective means of attracting and retaining talent

Retaining your top talent during a period of economic and social upheaval is not always easy, but with a sympathetic hand and a comprehensive talent retention strategy, it is possible. Below, we investigate 8 commonly effective strategies for employee attraction and retention. Adapt these to your own particular company, industry niche, and brand of leadership, and you can hope to grow your business globally backed by a secure, happy, and competent workforce.

Retention strategy 1) Create a safe and diverse space

This first tip is all about creating a company culture in which talented people actively want to work. Toxic workplace culture is a big driver in employee resignations, though often goes unnoticed by those who may benefit from the systems or practices in place.

Creating a safe and diverse workplace – for both office and remote workers – begins with an internal equality, diversity, and inclusivity policy, or EDI policy. This is where you clearly outline your company’s values regarding diverse groups such as the LGBTQIA+/Queer community, different religious and ethnic communities, and the disabled and neurodiverse community.

An effective EDI policy begins with recruitment and establishes fairness throughout the structure of the business, but it also plans for how to actively encourage engagement and learning within the workforce to create a more accepting culture. Diversity training days, observance of religious holidays, and the use of inclusive language (e.g., encouraging the sharing of pronouns and the removal of gendered language from the workplace) are just a few of the strategies you could employ to make your company a safer space for all.

Doing so, you create a place in which the very best talent in your industry – regardless of their background – wants to work, thus attracting a greater pool of employees. In upholding these values, you subsequently make those employees feel respected and seen, which improves your employee retention rate.

Retention strategy 2) Salary benchmarking and paying a living wage

The number one reason for resignation cited by employees is, plain and simply, money. In our society, money is the main measure of worth, and in the aftermath of the pandemic, many employees have realised that their labour is worth more than they are currently being paid. Around 61% of employees looking for another job say they’re looking for a higher salary.

The first step to paying your employees appropriately is to calculate a fair ‘living wage’ to pay your lowest earners, based on the cost of living in their location (including if they’re remote or overseas) and any legal minimum wage laws in their jurisdiction.

A living wage is one that does more than cover the bare minimum, and accounts for inflation. Whilst it’s a useful jumping-off point for wage-based employee retention, setting a living wage won’t do much for your higher-earning and salaried top talent. Instead, use salary benchmarking to ensure compensation of your salaried employees is fair, attractive and dynamic.

Definition: Salary benchmarking is the process of comparing your company’s pay packages against those of your competitors, and adjusting your employees’ salaries accordingly.

Note that whilst the prospect of regularly assessing and raising wages might seem financially daunting, the Society for Human Resource Management states that it may cost as much as 3-4 times the salary of an existing employee to replace them. Meaning that an employee salaried at USD$60,000 may cost upwards of $180,000 to replace. Ultimately, increasing wages is far cheaper in the long run.

Retention strategy 3) Offer flexible work-from-home options

The most noticeable impact of internationally-imposed lockdown measures during the pandemic was the shift toward remote work culture. Even now that many workers are returning to the office, a larger number of employees are reticent about going back. A report from Upwork on the future of work estimated that around 28% of Americans will be fully remote within the next 5 years.

Working from home means that employees don’t always have to commute or pay for (as much) childcare; they face potentially fewer distractions, have greater autonomy, and may even be more productive owing to a more flexible schedule. Employees want the option to work remotely some, or perhaps even all, of the time. Whilst this is not always possible to facilitate – for example in industries like hospitality – it should be available wherever viable.

Retention strategy 4) Promote employee wellbeing, including a healthy work-life balance

In the aftermath of the Great Resignation, people are generally more cognisant of their mental and physical wellbeing. They’re more aware of the strains which work puts on their health, and desire a healthier work-life balance as a result. The benefits of encouraging a better work-life balance in your workforce are myriad.

Not only are healthier, happier employees more productive, they’re also more likely to stick around. You can promote employee wellbeing by having HR check-in with employees regularly, as well as encouraging them not to check work emails and the like outside of working hours – crucially, management can help to reinforce a healthy work-life balance by leading by example.

Offering ‘mental health days’ is another effective way to help your employees avoid burnout – a World Health Organisation-recognised occupational phenomenon – and in doing so increase their satisfaction and your employee retention. You can also offer flexibility in scheduling and rotas, as well as remote work options to allow for the differing needs and work-life preferences of your workforce.

Retention strategy 5) Bridge the remote work gap to improve company engagement

Keeping your employees and colleagues engaged when expanding internationally and working remotely can be tough. Without in-person meetings and physical time in the office, your employees’ sense of connection to the company can become frayed. Knowing how to manage a remote workforce effectively is becoming ever more important in today’s business world.

Think of creative ways to include your remote workers in the day-to-day running of the office; hold regular catch-up meetings via voice and video call, and organise team meetings in a similar fashion; invite feedback and act on it to improve your employees’ company engagement.

Retention strategy 7) Onboarding, mentorship, and succession planning

Without a doubt, attracting and retaining talent begins with onboarding. It is during the process of onboarding – especially important in an international context, where employees are often hired remotely – that the company can clarify for employees its expectations, their job description, and the structures of support which have been put in place to help them join the team as seamlessly as possible.

Of course, the strategy for retention mustn’t stop there. Once onboarded, it’s important to continue to mitigate the risk of employees feeling trapped or stagnant in their roles. Mentorship programmes can help up/re-skill employees, whilst succession planning creates a dynamic internal structure with room for upward mobility. Combine these retention strategies with clear, honest, and open communication between management and workforce, and your employees are more likely to feel they have a positive future with your company.

Retention strategy 8) Manage your managers

A 2018 Udemy report on employee satisfaction highlighted a glaring issue in international business. Over 60% of respondents believed that members of their management were undertrained, whilst 50% felt that managers were promoted too quickly. These statistics highlight another leading cause of resignation: conflict between staff and management. We may speculate that almost everyone in the job market today has at some point or other had a manager whose management style made them want to quit.

Knowing this, it’s important that you continue to manage your managers, and be extra diligent during their selection process. Look for people skills, compassion, empathy, confidence, and excellent communication skills in the people you vet for managerial roles.

Retention strategy 9) Maintain open, honest, and accessible channels of communication

Expanding your business overseas, across state lines, or to incorporate remote workers and freelancers demands excellent communication channels. In order to feel involved, respected, and valued in their roles, your employees must feel that their opinions are heard. Providing a safe and confidential space to air grievances, as well as provide feedback, can be fundamental to increasing employee retention.

Moreover, a change management strategy should be brought into play whenever big changes – such as opening a new branch abroad, or entering an international market for the first time – are on the horizon. Ensure that your employees are kept well-informed throughout the transitional process, thus making them feel an integral part of the company, and increasing the likelihood of their continued commitment to your organisation.

You can learn more about employee retention, especially within the context of international expansion, by seeking the advice of an Employer of Record.

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