Can HR stay ahead of turnover in 2022? It’ll likely be a tall task, but if you’re proactive, you can do it.
More than half of employers think turnover will get worse this year, according to research from Korn Ferry. They think it’ll be worse than it was in 2021 – the year of The Great Resignation. And that was on the heels of 2020 – the year of “What the heck is going on?!”
So now could be the most critical time ever to give employees reasons to remain loyal so you can stay ahead of turnover.
“Employees’ expectations are forever changed, and in today’s hot labor market, workers would rather remove themselves from their current role entirely if it isn’t meeting their expectations,” says Lily Valentin, Head of Operations for North America at Adzuna.
Here are five tactics and strategies to keep good employees and improve company culture.
Make stay interviews a mainstay
Stay interviews work. And they aren’t just a tool for HR professionals to use. You’ll want to train front-line managers – the people who have the biggest impact on employee satisfaction and engagement – to regularly do stay interviews.
The stay interview – that informal talk between HR or boss and employee – isn’t new. But it’s never been more important.
When you chat, focus on:
- what motivates employees to stay now
- what they like and don’t about their role
- the part of their workplace experience they’d improve, and
- their career development goals.
“These informal chats are not only extremely insightful and beneficial for the employer and boost employee retention, but they also give employees an added sense of value within an organization,” says Valentin. “At a time when employees aren’t short of choice, knowing that their current employer cares about their experience, work situation, and professional ambitions – and that their employer is eager to address any challenges – makes all the difference.”
Do stay interviews well
No two stay interviews (a.k.a, stay conversations) will sound the same. HR pros and front-line managers will need to tailor questions and direction to each employee at any given time to stay ahead of turnover.
Keep them informal – perhaps over coffee or at a picnic table outside the office. And avoid the formal updates on projects, deadlines and tasks – there’s a different place and time for those.
Some questions and subjects you’ll want to cover:
- How do you feel in your role?
- What motivates you to show up for work every day?
- What are some of the challenges you face that prevent you from delivering your best outputs, and what do you think the team and company can do to alleviate these challenges?
- Are you able to find a positive work/life balance? If not, what can we do to help?
- Is there anything you don’t enjoy working on? Anything you want to work on more?
One caveat: “It’s important that employers also ask the awkward question of what would cause their employees to potentially leave the company,” Valentin says. “Having a better understanding of whether employees feel they deserve more recognition in the form of a pay raise or title change can help prevent an employee from leaving without warning because they feel they need to go elsewhere in order to climb the career ladder.”
Provide more ‘Fast Feedback’
Even if it’s negative, feedback that’s meaningful and useful is effective at keeping good employees on the job.
But what manager has time to give feedback every week to every direct report to stay ahead of turnover? All of them! That’s if they try Gallup’s Fast Feedback approach.
Here are three critical elements. Fast Feedback should be:
- Frequent. Like we mentioned already – at least weekly. Notice and commend good work and actions when you see them. Congratulate or thank teams at every meeting for something.
- Focused. Gear feedback to individual talents, needs and contributions. Connect what they’ve done to its impact on the bigger picture. Also listen to how they feel about what you’ve said. Then react accordingly, perhaps with praise, clarification, direction or maybe nothing more.
- Future-oriented. Emphasize the moment, recognizing accomplishments and asking how you can remove roadblocks that interfere with doing the same or better again. Or address shortcomings constructively by focusing on behaviors, not employee characteristics, and how to practice better behaviors going forward.
Give upskill, reskill opportunities
You can keep more employees by helping them see you as their next best opportunity, not just their current employer.
To stay ahead of turnover, focus on internal mobility, the Korn Ferry researchers said. This is especially important for niche roles. Don’t look for new people to fill those. Train employees who strive for more to fill them.
Work with the C-Suite and a team of managers to form a reskill and upskill program. Create standards to get into the program, where they’ll receive specialized job training, coaching, mentoring and on-the-job experiences.
Then, when employees make the efforts to learn and move up, compensate them fairly for the career growth.
Avoid bad hires
As the labor market contracts and expands, some hiring managers may be tempted to hire anyone willing to take a job.
Don’t, warn Harvard Business School researchers. The many potential bad outcomes of making a bad hire outweigh the benefits of making no hire at all.
The worst of all consequences of making a bad hire: Current employees will still bear the burden of extra work, be frustrated working with a bad-fit colleague and will end up even more inclined to quit.
But how do you know when to hire someone who’s close enough to a good fit (and it’ll work out) and when the better option is to just keep the position open?
Researchers said you want to watch for:
- Reliability. Many candidates demand flexibility – such as three days at 12 hours each. That’s predicable, and much easier to manage than unreliability – such as calling off or showing up unpredictably. So when hiring, do deep reference checks and ask behavioral questions such as, “Can you tell me about a time you faced unexpected events and how you managed them?”
- Job-readiness. New employees with task-specific experience will usually fill in better sooner. And anyone with a growth mindset can adapt quickly. One interview question that can find those candidates: “Can you tell me about a time you faced a task you weren’t certain you could do and how you overcame it?”
- Positivity. Negative people bring down everyone around them. Optimists don’t. You’re better to leave a position open than bring on a negative personality.
- Communication. People who communicate and respond clearly and consistently blend into teams quickly. Ask candidates about preferred communication methods and favorite tips for being an effective communicator. Do their answers mesh with what the team does?