Current HR trends for keeping top employees

Sept. 24, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by Eide Bailly LLP.

Employee turnover can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. As much as any employer tries to limit turnover, it will inevitably happen for a variety of reasons. Understanding the causes of turnover and looking at potential solutions can help decrease turnover rates and save money on your human resources.

Turnover causes and solutions

When employers don’t spend enough time upfront to identify the hiring need, it makes it difficult to find the right person with the skills to perform the job.

Poor employment practices: Companies that don’t offer a work environment and culture that supports their employees with benefits, fair compensation, performance feedback and opportunities to interact with others will find it difficult to retain employees.

Poor relationship with the immediate manager or supervisor: Employers need to put the right people into people management roles and provide them with the authority to make decisions for their direct reports. This can help to avoid poor relationships, which can cause turnover.

Less than competitive pay increases: To avoid turnover, employers need to pay their top performers well. This could be done by not providing every employee with the same pay increase percentage and instead focusing on providing larger increases to those who deserve it.

Limited career and personal development opportunities: Companies need to be transparent with employees regarding what it takes to advance. If no promotional opportunities exist, provide opportunities to take on new tasks or develop skills.

Inflexibility or concerns with work/life balance: A primary reason for turnover stems from a lack of work/life balance. Companies should allow employees to take time off, and, if possible, provide opportunities to work from home.

HR trends to improve retention

Not all turnover can be avoided, and sometimes turnover is necessary to continue successfully operating your business. However, limiting turnover and increasing retention can help save you money and increase the engagement of your “human assets.” Here are some current trends to improve retention.

Successful and efficient onboarding: Retaining great employees starts with their very first day. Onboarding can set your staff up for success if done properly. First, consider a small welcome gift they can use in the office, such as a water bottle or coffee mug. Also be sure to show them the necessities, such as how to use the copy machine and what to do if they’re having computer problems. Another great tip is to get the new employee involved with the team they’ll be working with right away. Consider pairing them up with a “buddy” to guide them through their first few projects. Their buddy can help them start with a hands-on approach by assisting them in real time, rather than leaving them on their own to deal with issues as they arise.

Flexibility and work/life balance: It’s important for employers to allow their employees to find a good work/life balance. This can be done by offering flexible work schedules, paid time off policies that allow employees to actually take time away from work and company-sponsored family activities. It also helps for managers and leaders to set the example while promoting a good work/life balance.

Two-way performance feedback: A lot can change within a year, which is why it’s important to provide employee feedback throughout the year and not just annually. Allowing that feedback to be a two-way street with a “stay interview” can help management gain a good understanding of what the company is doing right that makes employees want to stay, but it also can help determine what it is that would cause an employee to leave. This gives management a chance to identify strengths and weaknesses, and to work on improving those before it’s too late.

On top of that, stay interviews can help build stronger relationships within the company, which ultimately can lead to more trust throughout. When employees realize their thoughts and needs are being considered, they often are more likely to have positive attitudes and relationships. Following up on information learned in the interviews can help solidify this. Employers should use this feedback time to tie expectations of the organization’s strategic initiatives with the employee’s career growth. Discussions also should focus on skill development and identifying future career paths, which may include taking on new responsibilities, skill development and promotion.

Equitable compensation: Compensation obviously ranks high when working to improve retention. Employee compensation should be reviewed regularly, and that review should include industry standards, geographic market and specific job responsibilities. Employers also should review internal equity to ensure individuals in similar positions are paid fairly.

Generational considerations: Companies now employ individuals from four or five generations. Each generation is motivated by different factors, and approaches work in a unique way. Employers wishing to retain employees will make sure the culture and benefits appeal to individuals from various generations and will create opportunities for employees to work together and collaborate.

Social media access and utilization: Social media can be a powerful tool for an organization when utilized appropriately for recruitment, branding and marketing efforts. Employers should have a social media policy that outlines company expectations of employees and provides guidelines for how to utilize social media in the right way.

Wellness initiatives: Wellness initiatives are a popular trend currently being carried out by employers and appreciated by employees. Some options include providing access to health and well-being tools via mobile apps, promoting benefits offered by the company so that employees utilize them, developing health-related contests in the workplace employees can participate in and offering healthy snacks or meals in lieu of pizza, doughnuts and other treats. Through these benefits, employers can help improve the overall health and well-being of employees, which can reduce health care costs. Wellness initiatives also have shown to improve productivity. Don’t forget to consider medical, emotional, financial and mental well-being into those wellness initiatives.

Engage middle management: Another way to retain employees is to engage middle management. Employers should share strategy and get buy-in from this group, allowing middle managers to communicate important messages to employees. By retiring command and control, employers provide their middle management with the power to make decisions, which is appreciated by the employees who report to them directly.

Peer interaction: Generally, employees with the strongest connections to other employees are among the highest performers. Peers are the No. 1 reason people go the extra mile. Take advantage of this, and encourage peer-to-peer recognition and interaction among employees.

Show appreciation: Employees want to feel valued and appreciated. It’s important for employers to find ways to show appreciation for a job well done. Managers should determine the way each of their direct reports prefers to be appreciated and then follow through with the appropriate type of recognition. Appreciation doesn’t have to be anything formal, but it should be specific.

Legal trends to consider

In addition to best practices for things like policies and retention, there also are frequent changes in legal developments. Many of these legal changes don’t make front-page news but will land employers in hot water if they don’t comply. Here is a brief overview of current HR legal trends that employers should consider:

Off-the-clock work: Technology often tethers employees to work beyond normal working hours. Email access via phone, remote work access on home computers and the ability to hold meetings via Skype, Teams or other video chatting programs make working outside of the office easy and efficient, and more difficult to “turn off” when the normal workday is officially done. This is triggering a review by federal and state labor laws to determine if time spent working through technology outside of work should count as hours worked and, therefore, be paid.

Ban-the-box: Another legal trend comes from the Ban-the-Box campaign. These laws state that employers cannot ask questions related to arrest or conviction records before a face-to-face interview or job offer. Currently, there are just a small number of states that have these laws in place for private employers. Employers should check their state laws to determine if they need to update their employment application, online application process or pre-screening questions.

Pay equity: This legal trend continues the push for equal pay for similar work. There also is movement toward restricting questions regarding salary history during the hiring process in an effort to stop pay inequity from continuing in situations where someone is not being paid fairly for the job they have done in the past.

Expanded anti-harassment training: As a result of the #metoo movement, companies are reviewing their current harassment and discrimination policies. Many also are conducting training to remind employees and managers to keep the workplace free from harassment.

Marijuana legalization: With the rise of legalizing both medicinal and recreational use of marijuana across the U.S., employers should address marijuana usage in their employee handbook as part of the drug and alcohol policy.

Importance of HR strategies in employee retention: Employee retention is possible with the proper procedures and policies in place. Finding and keeping the best talent starts from the very first step in hiring, to onboarding, and continues all throughout an employee’s time with the company. Continuing to educate your organization on the many forms of staff relationship management is key to creating an environment where employees will feel valued enough to stay long term.

Keep your HR policies and procedures up to date and your top performing employees happy. Click here to learn how Eide Bailly can help.

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Current HR trends for keeping top employees

From off-the-clock work to anti-harassment training to tons of strategies for addressing turnover, these are HR trends to know.

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