How To Retain Employees In Today’s War for Talent

April 13, 2023 thehrobserver-hrobserver-employees

Employees need more is reducing dull tasks that can lead to burnout.

As the key to business success, it is no secret that companies are prioritising employee engagement, especially in today’s “war for talent”. Nowadays, employee retention is one of the major challenges companies are facing. The current shortage of skills that employers are facing in today’s fast-changing work environment, combined with unfulfilled employees’ expectations leads to a high turn-over, which can incur hefty costs. In fact, a study by Society for Human Resource Management shows that employee replacement can cost between 50% to 60% of an individual employee’s salary, with overall costs in some cases amounting to 90% to 200%. To resolve this, businesses need to rethink what it takes to retain top talent and what employee engagement means. 

Most employers mistake employee satisfaction with employee engagement. Although these concepts are interconnected, they differ in fundamental ways. While employees may be satisfied with the benefits your company offers, or your work environment, this does not always translate to active engagement with the job. Employee engagement has many different definitions, but in simple terms, it is the level of an employee’s investment and willingness to contribute to a company’s success. According to Haiilo, companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable. Additionally, highly engaged workplaces saw 41% lower absenteeism according to a Gallup study. The important question is, what causes employees to become withdrawn or disengaged from their work? 

  1. Lack of effective communication:

Communication can help reduce turnover and reduce the high costs of replacing employees. The lack of effective internal communication including management’s lack of transparency about administrative changes and organisational silos can lead to a feeling of detachment from the workplace and colleagues, ultimately contributing to an employee’s decision to quit. In fact, research by salesforce shows that corporate executives believe that 86% cite ineffective communication is the underlying reason for workplace failures. As such, companies should develop a communications plan with tangible objectives and outcomes including training leaders and employees on active listening and ongoing feedback. Additionally, such plans should include a guide for every form of communication, including verbal and written communication. Effective communication can solve the problem of organisational silos and lack of clarity, which can have a significant impact on employee morale and performance. 

  1. Stagnant practices leading to employee fatigue:

Employers should be cognizant of workplace practices that were previously considered standard, but are no longer effective, and in some cases can lead to cynicism. In today’s workplace where employees are having to get acquainted with the more frequent use of technology and other processes that come with remote work such as the cloud, it is important to replace practices that can lead to employee fatigue. For example, although surveys can no doubt benefit companies, implementing change from survey data is not easy and often takes months to develop a course of action. This can lead to employee frustration and lack of trust in management. As such, encouraging changes in leadership through interactive sessions with employees to capture their feedback, and discussion groups can be more effective. In other words, focusing on creating simple changes in the short-term while keeping employees updated on the status of bigger changes can foster employee engagement and show them that their feedback is important.  

  1. Boredom and lack of creativity: 

A new report from Cengage Group, a global education-tech firm, found that 83% of workers who resigned last year reported feeling stagnant in their role. Making sure employees have enough challenges and variation in their workday is often underestimated. Without the ability to develop themselves and learn, employees lose motivation and start to look elsewhere for a job. At present, most companies are prioritising wellness programmes. While this is a positive development, what employees need more is reducing dull tasks that can lead to burnout. Aside from investing in automation to help employees focus on more meaningful tasks, companies should reflect on how conducive they are to creative processes and new ways of doing things. Companies can encourage creativity through offering more autonomy and freedom to pursue different projects and tasks. Work cultures that encourage creativity and give employees the opportunity for personal development can have a significant impact on employee engagement. 

Overall, as work practices and expectations from employees change, it is necessary to adjust management priorities. Nowadays, employee engagement is an essential component of productivity and longevity at the workplace.  Therefore, prioritising communication, promoting a culture of creativity, and reducing tasks that lead to employee fatigue can go a long way in fostering employee engagement and reducing turnover.

Dr. Steven Glasgow

Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management at Heriot-Watt University Dubai

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