Retention Conversations are emerging as a powerful strategy that HR specialists and managers are utilizing to preserve their skilled workforce. Unlike exit interviews, which gather insights from departing employees, Retention Conversations engage existing staff, probing into their job satisfaction levels and areas of potential discontent.
This proactive approach allows for early detection and rectification of problems, preventing valued employees from seeking opportunities elsewhere — a move that can save organizations significant recruitment and training expenses.
These conversations are a crucial measure in talent preservation, but they serve a larger purpose. They communicate to your team members that their views on their roles and the organization are valued, and adjustments will be made, if necessary, to enhance their job satisfaction. Such an approach can significantly elevate employee morale and engagement.
In the immediate term, Retention Conversations reduce workforce turnover. In the longer term, they reinforce the esteem you have for your employees.
Industry experts forecasted a “major wave of resignations” as the pandemic eased. Employees who savored the freedom of remote work may be reluctant to return to an office setting, prioritizing their health. Others may have discovered a more desirable work-life balance from their home office. These and other factors led to a jump in resignations to almost 1 million in June 2021, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A recent study revealed that over half of the American workforce is contemplating a job change in the forthcoming year. According to Bankrate’s Job Seeker Survey of August 2021, 55% of respondents are likely to do so. An additional 28% expressed no active job search, but anticipate switching companies within the year. The survey also indicated that 56% of workers prioritize flexible work arrangements in their next role.
In this tough market, where businesses have been struggling to recruit, wages have increased, providing further incentive for employees to switch careers. The aforementioned survey identified higher salaries as the primary reason for 53% of workers seeking a new job, while 47% desired more job security. All these factors underline why employee retention should be a priority for businesses, and Retention Conversations can be instrumental in achieving this goal.
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Intentions to quit span across all age brackets. Bankrate’s survey discovered that 45% of Gen X, 77% of Gen Z, 63% of millennials, and 33% of Boomers plan to switch jobs in the forthcoming year. By income level, 72% of those earning under $30,000 and 44% of those earning over $80,000 annually are contemplating a job switch. In addition, almost 70% of minority workers and 44% of employees plan a job hunt in the next 12 months. This data implies that almost every demographic in your organization is susceptible.
Considering these statistics, it seems every individual in your organization could potentially leave within the coming year. When planning Stay Conversations, prioritize your top performers — those whose departure would most significantly impact your company. Then consider the team members who would be most challenging to replace. They could be the most junior employees in some organizations or tech or specialized talents in others. The more complex their replacement or training would be to reach optimum performance levels, the higher they should rank on your Retention Conversations list.
Line managers are best equipped to conduct these conversations as they have a deeper understanding of the daily challenges faced by employees and the power to implement necessary changes. These discussions should take place privately, using a pre-approved set of questions. When possible, the manager should make adjustments to retain the employee. If necessary, they should escalate to HR or business owners to enact changes beyond their authority.
Managers should dedicate thirty minutes to meet with each team member. They may find common problem areas, such as hours, shifts, or wages, contributing to employee turnover. With this data, they’ll be more equipped to advocate for changes to higher management.
“Assure the employee that you’re starting a “Job Satisfaction Chat.” Your aim is to find out what they enjoy about working in the company and to pinpoint areas that could be enhanced if necessary.” – Amy Jones, Talent Advocate at MEDIjobs US.
Structured conversations, with pre-determined questions, can ensure Retention Conversations stay focused. The objective is to identify and improve areas of satisfaction, and uncover and address areas of discontent. Starting the discussion with a retention mindset, assure the employee that the goal of the “Retention Conversation” is to understand what they enjoy about the company, and what, if anything, could be improved.
Sample questions might include:
Organizations can tailor questions to their specific workplace or team members. The questions should be predetermined to ensure everyone is asked the same questions and all relevant topics are discussed. Managers can collaborate with their HR team to develop a script.
The next step involves acting upon the gathered information. Addressing genuine, actionable concerns raised by staff members immediately is crucial. If they’ve requested something beyond the manager’s power, reassure them that you will discuss these issues with higher management for resolution.
For managers conducting multiple Retention Conversations, inform each employee about your dual-action plan. You aim to resolve any individual issues uncovered, and also identify concerns common to the team (like wages) to discuss with HR and higher management for potential resolution. Expedite scheduling Retention Conversations to address individual and team problems before employees seek other opportunities.
As unemployment benefits cease, staff counts may return to normal, relieving pressure on both companies and employees. Retention Conversations should remain a part of your management team’s duties, even beyond staffing recovery and the great wave of resignations. They can serve as a strong tool to retain and continually remind talent of their value within your organization.
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