How Do You Retain Talent in a Tight Labor Market?

There are approximately 10 million open jobs in the US – and the lowest labor participation rate in decades. A Korn Ferry survey of 1,100 professionals in September cited the top reasons people are leaving their jobs: 30% are re-evaluating their priorities in the midst of the pandemic, another 24% lamented no clear advancement path in their job and 23% wanted better pay and benefits.

Skilled workers have the power to select their employer of choice. A successful retention strategy starts with acknowledging that you won’t solve your current challenges by applying the solutions of the past. This is the time to revisit underlying assumptions and test each one. So how do you keep employees?

Advancement Pathway. Do you have a defined roadmap for employees to excel and receive promotions within the organization? If not, work to create an advancement plan for workers in all areas of the company. People want to understand that if they achieve results there is a structure in place to get to the next level. Map out the steps for them.

Create a Culture. We have all worked for leaders that made an impact on our career. Conversely, there are leaders that failed to support us, and we merely punched a clock to deliver the performance needed. Are you listening to your team? What is important to them? Do you genuinely care about their success, and are you vested in helping them achieve?  Don’t go through the motions – consider their ideas.

Tuition and Education Assistance. Professionals in many industries consider learning a lifelong journey.  The cost of certifications, licenses and enhanced degrees is steep. Consider offering a stipend for education and certification reimbursement.  There are a myriad of ways to structure it to minimize the organization’s exposure.

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Upskilling and Reskilling. Similar to tuition and education assistance, no worker wants to do the same task for decades and not enhance their skill set.  Korn Ferry cites that 37% of organizations are combatting the labor shortage by upskilling and reskilling their existing workforce.  This also can take the form of leadership and development programs as well as online classes to upskill employees. Education has many different forms.

Mentor Programs. In the hybrid work from home model, many newer employees struggle to receive the needed coaching required to be successful in their role. We learn through hands-on experience, and mentors that can teach us on the spot.  Consider establishing a mentor/mentee program in your organization to foster a sense of community among workers and help individuals get the personalized attention they need.

Flexible Schedules. Many companies in the defense industry successfully implemented the 9/80 work schedule years ago, wherein workers log a nine-hour day and have every other Friday off. While this may not work for all employers, consider flexible schedules that allow employees to start and end their day outside of the 9 to 5 schedule. Flex time creates satisfaction and enables people to balance their work/ life responsibilities.

Better Benefits. It is no secret that healthcare cost a small fortune.  Whether it is copays, deductibles or out of pocket expenses, it is a concern for workers. If you have not evaluated your company medical benefits in a while, it may pay to shop around and provide a variety of plans.  Offering catastrophic plan healthcare with a high deductible won’t make you competitive, and employees may look elsewhere to offset this cost.

Pay Increases and Bonuses. Inflation is alive and well, and if you have not adjusted salaries in several years, you aren’t competitive.  If increases are not fiscally possible, consider bonuses. This is a variable cost and can be managed more easily than increasing salaries. For example, bonuses can be paid quarterly, annually, or as a spot award. The ways and frequency to deliver a bonus are almost endless. Do what works best for your organization and employees.

Vacation and Holidays. Like salaries and benefits, these policies need to be reviewed annually.  What do peers in your industry offer? Can your organization gain an edge by offering more?

Your Brand. How is your brand among current workers? Employees are your brand ambassadors – everywhere they go, they’re advertising your company. Is it viewed as a great place to work? Consider surveying your workforce to determine what is working and what needs improvement.

How will you refine your retention strategy?

Kim Henderson

Kim Henderson
Kim Henderson is managing director of Cobalt Compass Solutions, which provides consulting and training services for the staffing and professional services Industry. She can be reached at khender10 (at) tampabay.rr (dot) com.

Kim Henderson

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