When it comes to ensuring the future of your business, it’s easy to focus on things like technology and accumulating more clients. After all, expansion and modernization are considered the benchmarks of absolute success. That said, in an era when 36.4% annual turnover is considered a norm, there is an even more important asset to consider: your workforce.
Even the most meticulously laid plans can fall apart when a talented employee decides to leave. The loss of a top facility manager can derail your plans, and a well-liked supervisor or team member can lead to a wave of others giving their notice. That’s why failing to prioritize your workforce in long-term planning, a.k.a. losing sight of talent acquisition and retention efforts, can be a true recipe for disaster.
As we take on a knowledge-based economy with an aging workforce and a slowed national birthrate— nothing could be more important than securing top-tier employees and keeping them as long as possible. Let’s discuss.
Hiring & Turnover Changed During the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on hiring and turnover. It’s given people more than a year to reflect on what they want out of their lives, including from their jobs. It has also altered standard hiring processes in an attempt to make up for lost time and profit margins.
In spite of the reopened economy, the process of matching skilled laborers to jobs is proving to be slow and complicated, according to the Wallstreet Journal. Even with evolved hiring methods (hiring without in-person interviews or forgoing drawn-out HR processes), employers are facing talent shortages and an onslaught of competition.
Current rates of turnover and unemployment suggest an abundance of available candidates… but in reality, the ease and speed with which employers are actually able to bring in new hires is drastically slowed. Thankfully, businesses are learning how to adapt.
New Approaches for Keeping Your Pipeline Filled
As you consider ways to tackle this issue within your specific industry, it’s important to keep those in your talent pool in mind. Having a humanistic approach is more realistic than thinking you can market to the general public with things like benefits or guaranteed pay raises alone.
Here are some additional tips to help keep all your roles filled:
- Take risks on individuals with potential. Even when an employee does not have all the qualifications you were hoping for, they may end up being perfect additions to your team given some training and patient grooming. Plus, by telling a candidate what they could grow into with your company, you can convey your investment in them from day one.
- Have a backup plan for top employees. It can be scary to even imagine your top-performing or future leaders leaving out of the blue. However, inevitably, there will come a time when you part ways. When that day arrives, you will be a lot more at ease if you studied their critical attributes and already have roadmaps in place for replacing them.
- Monitor potential hires to curb inevitable losses. Keeping tabs on potential hires for your key roles is not enough. You need to keep an updated short list of possible replacements for all the roles that keep your business functioning. That way, you're not responding reactively when someone announces their departure or scrambling to fill multiple spots.
- Consider alternatives that relieve the need to replace people. Though it may not be the best fit for your business, incorporating A.I.’s, robotics or other forms of technology can help to eliminate the need to continue hiring for certain positions. If you are facing the same talent shortages over and over again, it may be more cost-effective overall to bypass the need for the position altogether.
The Best Ways to Combat Turnover
As you have likely realized, the answer to retention is no longer more money or better snacks in the vending machine. In fact, most employees don't even know what they want in order stay with an employer. Make it your goal to show them.
Here are some tips for realistically combatting turnover in 2021:
- Seek to fulfill employees’ need for fulfilling work. When you focus on elements like connection and acknowledgement, you secure employees in a more meaningful way. It can be demoralizing for employees to see co-workers getting raises or random perks just to temporarily delay them quitting. Therefore, it is far more beneficial for you to emphasize communication and building a sense of unity to keep people around.
- Get to know your team. When you do right by your employees and acknowledge their concerns, you don’t have to worry nearly so much about losing them to competitors. Giving your time and attention to new and long-standing workers (training them one-on-one, meeting regularly, etc.) helps ensure you won’t have to guess what your workforce wants or who is on their way out the door.
- Continuously seek to make employees’ jobs easier. You can always find ways to improve employees’ roles and operational strategies. Take the input of your workforce seriously when it is offered, especially if a problem comes up in an exit interview. Giving employees the chance to witness tangible, positive changes could have a major impact on their decisions to stay.
Ultimately, regardless of industry, the talent war will be dominated by those with a comprehensive and proactive workforce strategy. For more information on recruiting and sustaining a dependable workforce during COVID-19, check out: “Recruiting and Retention: One Year Into the Pandemic.”