Employee Retention in a Competitive Market

Lockdown furloughs forced a large cohort of hourly workers out of their jobs, and because hourly workers don’t tend to be married to their industry, there’s a massive bidding war going on right now for their employment. That means if you’re hiring for an hourly job at your company, you’re not just competing against the other businesses in your industry – you’re competing against every other hourly-wage employer out there. When that level of competition arises, you’ll not only have difficulty hiring new talent, but you’ll also need to focus on current employee retention.  With an abundance of jobs open, and fewer workers than ever to fill them, employees who aren’t happy with the pay, hours or their development opportunities, can easily get another job somewhere else. So, how do you attract new talent while keeping the talent you have happy? Here are some suggestions that many employers have found success with.

Provide Benefits Employees Actually Want

First and foremost, the easiest (in theory) method of employee retention is to simply show them the money. For most hourly employees, an increase in hourly wage is the #1 thing on their wish list – and even a small raise can be extremely effective. However, we know that direct pay increases are not always feasible in the best of times, let alone in the post-covid recovery economy. Here are some other options you should keep in mind when you’re creating a job posting or pitching a current employee to stay:

Be Flexible

You need to be understanding and flexible with your hourly employees. Many people seek hourly work instead of salaried or contract work because of outside-of-work obligations and limitations – such as caring for children or a second job. If your job interferes with their ability to address those obligations and needs, you won’t keep that employee for long.

Invest in Your Employees

Putting the time and resources into employee retention from the second they start their first shift will pay huge dividends. Companies that provide 4 or more hours of on-the-job orientation have lower turnover rates than those with shorter or no orientation. Additionally, employees want training opportunities in order to continue to round out their skillset. Offering education reimbursement onsite training or assistance with student loans can be a major (and tax deductible, in many cases) retention tool. 

Invest in Technology

Like it or not, the era of remote work is here. If a job can be done remotely, you should either provide that option or provide flexible scheduling. With remote work, you’ll also need to invest in the technologies that drive it, such as:

  • Productivity and Virtual Workplace software, like Slack and Asana.
  • Video conference equipment (webcams and laptops, potentially smartphones) and virtual software, such as Google Meet or Zoom
  • Payroll software with an online employee portal and direct deposit functionality to avoid mailing checks and reduce paperwork

Let’s Talk

Talk to your employees and ask them what they value the most as far as benefits. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised to find that companies often skip this step and offer an undesired and ineffective benefit package. A simple and open feedback mechanism can reap huge rewards. Additionally, you can further motivate new employees and increase employee retention by creating reward and incentive programs that fit your employee’s needs – but again, you can only do this effectively if you now what those needs are! Sit down with your employees individually, as a group, or even survey them anonymously to find out exactly what they want out of the job… and then do your best to give it to them.

Employee Retention Starts Within

Your employees are your company’s ambassadors. Both on the clock and off, they’re informing people what it’s like to work for you. Make sure what they’re saying is positive by creating a culture of shared achievement, responsibility, success and accountability. Reinforce a rewarding, promote-from-within environment… and as mention above, get feedback and address it. It’s not enough to just talk about your company’s culture – you need to walk the talk by actually doing these things.

Workforce volatility is here to stay – at least in the short term. Keep your best employees longer by making them feel recognized and valued, both monetarily and non-monetarily.

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