Employee Retention: How HR and Managers Can Work Together
Employee retention programs can help businesses improve morale, reduce costs, and retain their core talent. To accomplish those goals, businesses often focus their retention programs on improving hiring strategies, streamlining the onboarding process, offering competitive compensation, and fostering a positive work environment. Yet many businesses fail to support one of the most important relationships that define a worker's day-to-day experience: the interaction between managers and employees. Here are some ways your HR leaders can work with managers to help keep valued employees loyal to your company.
Why the manager relationship is so important
It's been said that workers don't leave companies, they leave managers. In other words, employees are less likely to leave due to large, overarching issues or concerns with the way that a company is performing. More commonly, attrition is related to the quality of an employee's day-to-day experience. Managers have a significant amount of control over the employee experience, from what they work on to the input they receive on the results. Are your employees guided and recognized, or reprimanded and stressed? Are the manager and employee lines of communication open to share ideas, or do employees feel they could get in trouble for asking questions? Your company's managers have the opportunity to become your most important ambassadors for employee retention.
Establish employee retention as a priority
Companies have many priorities, from productivity to customer satisfaction. Establishing employee retention as an important metric can help give managers the incentive they need to focus on retaining talent. Provide information to managers on why employee retention is important to the company, including the costs of replacing workers who leave. Consider making employee retention an explicit key performance indicator (KPI) for manager evaluations. You could also invest in basic management training on communication, goal setting, and other important skills for managers who oversee other staff members.
Meet the needs of high-risk employees
Are there key employees at your company who are at risk of leaving? For example, staff in highly in-demand positions may be more likely to receive a competing offer. Workers who have expressed a desire for more compensation or a more flexible work situation — and who felt their needs went unheard — are also likely to look for a new job. Managers need the training to identify workers who are at risk of leaving. At that point, companies can make important decisions with respect to recognition, compensation, or accommodating other requests. Establish clear communication channels so your HR team can partner with management to retain high-risk and high-value talent.
Encourage hands-on management
It's important that your managers have time in their schedules to actively interact with employees. HR needs to consider timing when developing manager allocations, and they should periodically check-in with managers in areas where they can use support. Ideally, managers should be reviewing work, providing feedback, and meeting with employees on a regular basis. At the same time, there should be a continuing focus on each employee's growth goals, learning opportunities, and future trajectory with the company. Managers who are focused on these issues and actively discussing them with employees can play an important role in helping businesses retain top talent.
Employee retention is an emerging area of focus for an increasing number of businesses as competition for top talent becomes more difficult. Managers may be a critical, sometimes overlooked part of your company's employee retention strategy. Make employee retention a priority in the coming year and explore ways that HR and managers can partner to keep your top performing workers loyal and engaged.