Employee retention is already a hot topic of conversation, and it only shows a continued trend in that direction moving forward. It’s just an element of the time- shifting employee demographics, and unemployment rates contribute to the conversation at hand.
What we’re experiencing is during significant recessions, employers stress less about employee retention– it just isn’t a topic of considerable concern during times of instability and uncertainty. But the times, they are changing! We will see employee retention become an even hotter topic over the coming years as we see the boomer generation exit the workforce en masse while we don’t have the younger skilled workers ready to replace them.
All the above is entirely true. And employee retention is essential. But hear me out- you don’t have to retain every employee.
Despite all the fear-mongering around employee retention (it has become its sort of ethos, really), the reality is that in most situations, most of your employees won’t leave. We can scare ourselves by telling ourselves that every employee can go (and legally, this is true), but the data shows that most people will stay.
The ‘ultimate average’ employee retention rate across every industry is about 85% consistently year after year. This means that the majority of organizations are (or at least, should be) always worried about 10-15% of your employees at any given time.
Ironically, that 10-15% will include a majority of your top performers that move the needle the most in your organization.
The first problem you need to address (and solve) is the flawed approach your company is likely taking to employee retention. The current status quo (and likely, your retention program) is flawed and pushing amazing employees out the door– the very people you should be working to keep.
Assuming the following is your scenario:
You’re an engaged business owner, and you care, so you send out a retention survey to find out what your employee’s needs are.
The results tell you all of the magical, superficial things that the majority of your employees want to be retained. Yoga, ping pong, Taco Tuesday, etc.
You implement. It’s party time!
Employee retention just stays the same or gets worse.
Remember, you shouldn’t worry about the 85% of your employees that won’t leave. They’re staying. Technically, you shouldn’t be surveying everyone anyways. Talk to your best employees- the ones your business depends on.
Speaking to your top performers, one thing will become glaringly obvious: the things your top performers want to be retained differs significantly from the 85% of their peers- the people who aren’t leaving in the first place. Top performers- the ones you want to keep- will ask for things like a clear career path, performance-based compensation, more talented coworkers, better work tools, etc.
They don’t care about yoga.
Making great HR decisions shouldn’t center on working to make everyone equal, this is something that’s easy to forget. Great HR aims to make you better than your competition. You do this by investing in top talent and listening to your employees that are noticeably talented.
Imagine the environment this could create for your organization- a high performing business that attracts high performing talent. Most businesses won’t do this- it seems to be the common ethos to work to retain all employees.
Once you shift your mindset, you can begin to do amazing things to drive your organization forward.