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Your top employees are top targets. The candidate market is in a unique space: unemployment is low, turnover is at an all-time high, and loyalty isn’t necessarily a priority for all employees – and the finance industry, in particular, is feeling the pressure. As the demand for talent grows and the available candidate pool dwindles, recruiters have their eyes set on your best employees. And often, the temptation to take on a new adventure is too great. While it’s easier to blame turnover on poachers, most employees quit because internal forces push them out, rather than external forces drawing them in. In so many words, it’s not them, it’s you.
Wandering EyesAccording to TINYpulse, only 22% of financial workers are truly happy at work, putting them at a high risk for turnover. But even your most loyal employees are open to new opportunities, and the slightest nudge can tip the scale. Only 15% of employees are truly satisfied in their jobs and aren’t looking for other opportunities (LinkedIn). That means 85% of your employees could be at risk of leaving your organization. Mercer states 34% of employees say they plan to leave their current role in the next 12 months. Gallup states a much higher percentage: 51% of workers are looking to leave their current jobs. LinkedIn research shows that 25% of employees are actively looking for new work, with two-thirds of them currently employed. In fact, 3.22 million Americans (2.2% of the workforce) quit their jobs in January 2017, the highest quit rate since February 2001 (Department of Labor). While statistics on tenure and turnover may vary, one truth remains constant: employees are looking, especially in Finance. In 2015, Compdata reported average turnover at 16.7%, but turnover within the Finance & Banking was reported at 18.6%. Meanwhile, CPA firms can experience an average turnover rate of up to 25% per year (TINYpulse). Currently, 75% of jobseekers are employed but open to new opportunities— these are known as “passive candidates.” Almost 60% of workers look at other jobs at least monthly (Indeed). Platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor email new opportunities to passive candidates on a daily or weekly basis. Just because they are open to new opportunities doesn’t mean they don’t like their current jobs: 80% of passive jobseekers are satisfied in their current job (LinkedIn). Among people who “love their jobs,” 50% would be willing to leave for a new opportunity (Adobe) and Glassdoor reports that 84% of candidates would consider leaving their current company if another company with an excellent reputation offered them a job. More than half of U.S. employers (57%) said hiring activity has increased over the past 12 months, while turnover has picked up by 37% in 2016 (Willis Towers Watson). With demand high and available talent low, recruiters are becoming more aggressive. They aren’t shy about going for your top talent, and their tactics are effective. In 2015, 75% of workers with new jobs hadn’t actively applied for the position, they were referred or “poached” (FRBSF Economic Research). The reasons they leave go beyond simple temptation.
It’s not just a Millennial problem. Millennials have developed a reputation as job hoppers. And it’s not an incorrect assessment; 44% of Millennials say, if given the choice, they expect to leave their current employers in the next two years (Deloitte). But it’s not just Millennials: 37% of Gen X and 25% of Boomers are planning to leave their company in the next two years (Lightspeed).
Cost & EffectWhen turnover is high, talent becomes a primary concern. According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), the top three challenges faced by HR organizations today are turnover, employee engagement, and succession planning. The impact of these challenges all come at a high cost to your budget, to your team, and to your morale. Finding a new employee slows processes, requires recruiting efforts, and impacts culture. The cost of replacing an employee can range from 30%-400% of an employee’s salary (ERE Media). When you lose an employee, their surrounding team feels the impact, too – not just in their productivity, but their team dynamic as well. Friendships can be a powerful tool in engagement and retention. Employees with a best friend at work tend to be more focused, more passionate, more loyal to their organizations, and they change jobs less frequently (SHRM). Employees agree: 46% of professionals worldwide believe that work friends are important to their overall happiness (LinkedIn) and 50% of employees with a best friend at work report a strong connection with the company (Gallup). Friendship does have an effect on tenure: 37% of employees say “working with a great team” is their primary reason for staying (Gusto), while 55% of employees have put off job hunting because they didn’t want to leave their coworkers (ICIMS). A revolving door of teammates does not allow for this kind of synergy. Meanwhile, a solid tenured workforce can: Help guide strategic planning Acquire cross-training Mentor and train others Nurture culture Tenure’s impact on culture will be your biggest asset, and turnover’s impact on culture will be your biggest detriment. Longevity helps solidify and support culture, setting and maintaining the standard. A consistent culture is effective in its practices and expectations.
Why They Go & Why They StayThere is no one factor that influences employee tenure. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics currently defines the average employee tenure at 4.2 years. Typically, the top reasons job seekers will leave for another job are: More compensation (61%) Location (42%) Better work-life balance (40%) Health benefits (36%) Growth opportunities (35%) Company culture (21%) Leadership (15%) (Jobvite) All of these factors address employees’ human needs—the need to grow, the need to be valued, the need to live a full life. Growth and opportunity are a particular driving force. Forty-one percent of employees said they would need to leave their current employer in order to advance their careers (Towers Watson). More than 60% don’t feel their career goals are aligned with the plans their employers have for them (Forbes), and another 47% of Americans would leave for their ideal job even if it meant less pay (Adobe). Interaction between work and life can seriously influence tenure. Bamboo HR reports that 14% will leave if they don’t have a healthy work-life balance, while 46% of HR leaders say employee burnout is responsible for up to half of their annual workforce turnover (Kronos). Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing. Job searching fluctuates in accordance with life events. Around birthdays, job searching increases by 12%, 16% around class reunions, and up to 9% around work anniversaries (HBR). Any life events that inspire reflection can lead your employees to wonder, “What’s next?” There is an eternal human search for “something better.” The good news is, your organization can proactively address every single one of these factors. Rob Beanett, author of Passion Saving: the Path to Plentiful Free-Time and Soul- Satisfying Work defines the Employee Life Cycle, defines the cycle at seven years and SHRM’s 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report defines average employee tenure at eight years, but it’s shortening. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics currently defines the average employee tenure at 4.2 years. The cycle includes:
- Overwhelmed Starting a new job or position initially begins as stressful, but the new challenge drives them forward. New hire initiatives are crucial in balancing stress and engagement. (continued…)
- Happily Challenged Within six months, the employee is still being challenged but enjoys the experience.
- Smooth Sailing After another 6-12 months, the employee is confident in his ability to handle the job. They still enjoy the work, but there is not as much of a challenge and they are not learning as much.
- Bored It can take 3-7 years before an employee can feel like they can do their job in their sleep. Now the employee must actively begin looking for a new challenge.
- Indifferent Left unchallenged, the employee becomes unhappy with the company. They won’t care enough about the work to do it well. But if they find a new challenge, the cycle can begin again.
Lead the WayHow you involve your company’s leadership will make all the difference. They will set the tone and build a tenured team. In fact, 51% of employees who don’t feel they have the support of leadership plan to leave their job in the next year, compared to 25% of those who do have leadership support (American Psychological Association). In addition, 14% of HR leaders say lack of executive support is an obstacle to improving retention in 2017 (Kronos). Through dedicated practices and daily efforts, your company’s leadership creates the employee experience—and plays a huge role in engagement. According to employees, the most memorable recognition comes from their manager (28%), a high-level leader or CEO (24%), and their manager’s manager (12%), followed by customers and peers. We know that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their boss. The main factor in workplace discontent is an employee’s manager—not wages, benefits, or hours (Gallup). Half of U.S. adults have left their job to get away from their manager (Gallup), which is understandable considering the way the manager influences the factors mentioned earlier. Managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores (Gallup). But don’t be so quick to point the finger of blame. Your company’s leaders need great managers, too. Leaders need the same support from the individuals they report to. Just 35% of U.S. managers are engaged, while 51% are not engaged at all (Gallup). Meanwhile, 42% of managers are currently looking for jobs with other organizations (Modern Survey). Managers actively influence nearly every factor of tenure and engagement. They require support, growth, and recognition to fill their own cup first—then they can nurture other employees.
Building Loyalty, Achieving RetentionIf you want to retain your top employees, you must implement a dedicated, proactive strategy.
Prepare EmployeesIf your top employee won the lottery, who would do their job tomorrow? There should be no position on your team or in your organization that only one employee knows how to do. Cross-training employees can not only keep them challenged, it provides opportunities for growth and can come in handy when looking for a replacement.
Pay CompetitivelyFinancial temptation can be your biggest enemy: 35% of employees will start looking for a job if they don’t receive a raise in the next 12 months (Glassdoor). Fix this by offering truly competitive pay. Give raises and adjustments proactively and always connect it with some other form of recognition. Never let a paycheck speak for itself. To ensure your pay is competitive, see our Salary Guide. Don’t forget benefits. Your employees need them. It’s as simple as that.
Value TransparencyFrequent Forbes contributor and seasoned Fortune 500 HR SVP Liz Ryan discusses a unique process at one of her former organizations. As her employees were receiving an avalanche of recruiter calls, turnover was becoming a top concern. Instead of punishing employees, the leadership team created a “poaching form.” The form asked for the name of the recruiter, the hiring company, the name and description of the project or position, salary offered, and other details. Then, the company paid their employees $50 for each completed form. It worked like a charm. They were able to inspire an open dialogue about what employees were looking for and know what their competition was up to. Once recruiters figured out what was going on, the poaching slowed considerably. A program like this can demonstrate trust, give you a chance to address concerns and efficiently enact retention strategies based directly on employee feedback.
Surveillance Surveillance falls under the transparency umbrella. And it can be a tricky game. If you are or want to monitor employee internet or phone use, only use it to help, not punish. For instance, if you notice an employee is spending considerably more time on LinkedIn, use that information to have a discussion about what the organization can do in service to that employee, rather than telling the employee to stop doing that. Do not try to limit their behavior. The harder you press down the lid, the harder it will pop up.
Create Structured Career PathsEveryone needs something to work towards. Work with employees on an individual basis to define a career path within your organization. Frequently check in on this path and adjust according to their needs and goals, ensuring they are challenged appropriately. This is also how you will select your next group of leaders who will affect the tenure and performance of other employees. Promote according to performance and strengths, while rewarding tenure.
RecognitionWhen 82% of employees don’t think they’re recognized for their work as often as they deserve (BambooHR), they will look for it elsewhere. Your top performers give you plenty to recognize. Create a structured program that allows for an abundance of both formal and informal recognition.
FlexibilityTo address issues of location and work-life balance, allow for flexible work options. This is an effective demonstration of trust and appreciation while proactively meeting employee needs. Additionally, workers who were offered telecommuting options were more productive and had lower turnover (HBR). Make sure employees have the appropriate tools and training available to do their work well.
Survey FrequentlySurveying allows you to keep an eye on engagement and give employees a chance to speak candidly. Take results seriously and make adjustments accordingly.
Support LeadershipPromote the right people into management roles, and make sure your leaders have the tools available to keep employees engaged.
CultureWhether you recognize it or not, your organization has a culture. It’s simply the personality of your organization. You do not need ping pong tables to have an effective culture. You simply need to build your organization around your values, and in turn, implement programs that strengthen those values. Keep a pulse on your culture and continuously nurture it. Every program, every technology, every process should somehow revert back to one of the values of the company. Always keep your culture at the forefront of every company communication.
Open DoorsNo matter how great your organization is, some people will quit. It’s just part of life! Master the flow of talent and support your employees in their next step. Write recommendations and use your connections to help them build their careers. Soon, your organization will build a reputation as a launch pad, and you’ll get flooded with talent. Plus, you’d be surprised how many of those former employees will come back as boomerang employees—40% say they’d consider returning to their former company (Workplacetrends). There’s nothing about the tenure crisis that you can’t manage. With dedicated programs, you can build effective longevity and reap all the benefits. The most important factor is to focus on helping your employees build their livelihood. When your employees are your main focus, they will find a career worth staying for within your organization.
Tips from Within Creating Structured Career Paths Jess Bushey serves as Market Vice President for Roth Staffing Companies, parent company of Ledgent. She oversees some of Roth’s most successful and tenured teams. Here’s what she has to say about creating structured career paths: “I find that having a structured career path has empowered our coworkers, benefitting the overall organization. As a new employee is on-boarded, we lay an outline of several career opportunities relative to where they are starting, establishing what each stepping-stone requires. We then check in during quarterly performance reviews, outlining and benchmarking goals and outcomes that are needed to reach those next steps. The key component to this is clear and consistent communication and allowing coworkers to explore different options than they originally thought they might aspire to. Having a clear career path for promotion encourages coworkers to take ownership, keeping them engaged in their current role and within our organization. It has also allowed us to retain our top talent and have stronger succession planning for organic growth. It preserves and enlivens our company culture to have leaders who started in entry-level positions and grew into leadership positions, where they have authentic stories to tell our newest coworkers.”
Welcome to the new frontier.Social media is no longer viewed as a young person’s time-waster; instead, it has transformed into one of the most proliferate forms of communication today. While it’s true that more businesses embrace the use of social media, too many solely focus on speaking to their customers and ignore a vital audience: their current and future employees. How you present yourself as an employer on social media not only affects the perception of your employees and potential candidates, but can impact the relationship you have with customers. In the new age of accountability and transparency, your audience is constantly looking for better ways to make informed decisions. What they find online creates a multidimensional profile of who you are as an organization.
The Current Social Media ClimateSocial media usage is soaring. Currently, 83% of Americans have a social media account (Hootsuite) and social media comprises 30% of all time spent online (Global Wed Index). Due to widespread adoption, a once leisurely novelty now blurs the lines between social, professional, and consumer spaces. Not only do people expect to find their friends online, but they expect to find the businesses they interact with on social media. Amongst Americans, 48% have interacted with companies or institutions on at least one social media network, and 28% would rather engage with a brand/ organization on social media than visit a physical location (Hootsuite). At the bare minimum, an employer should maintain a presence on these channels:
- Display your culture
- Praise employees
- Address complaints and negative feedback
- Celebrate organizational accomplishments and employee achievements
- Announce changes
- Promote your blog or other expertise
Job Ad ≠ PresenceWhen you think of the relationship between employers and social media, most minds immediately jump to LinkedIn and job postings. While LinkedIn is an important and vital tool, your reach should stretch beyond this professional networking site. Strictly from a recruiting perspective, 93% of companies use LinkedIn for recruiting, but only 36% of jobseekers are actually active on LinkedIn (Jobcast). And among people who found their current job through a social network, 78% attributed their job to Facebook, while only 40% cited assistance from LinkedIn (Jobvite). In general, Facebook has a higher engagement rate: 70% of Facebook users engage daily compared to only 13% of LinkedIn users (Pew Research), and 83% of jobseekers are active on Facebook (Jobcast). An in-depth, multi-channel approach creates the presence you need. The time has come to present yourself as a multidimensional entity, beyond your product or service. The inner workings of your organization are not only intriguing, but they speak to your competence and trustworthiness.
Leading with TransparencyYelp has demanded a new level of accountability and transparency from businesses. Glassdoor has done the same with internal organizational policies and conduct. While this can feel detrimental to business, this actually strengthens it. Privacy is no longer a virtue, it is a caution sign to customers. In this new era of vulnerability, a lack of online presence suggests you have something to hide. Your clients and customers want candid information on your services and your internal operations—even the nonfavorable reviews. (Too perfect of a reputation can imply bribery or tampering.) Referrals are consistently the best way to gain new business. Let the internet be your referral service. Perfect your service and address issues or complaints brought up online. This will give your clients and potential candidates a taste of the service they can expect.
For Your Employees...Your social media movement should begin with your employees. They will be your first followers/friends, give your first shares and likes, and leave your best comments. Your employees will be your strongest testament for your employer brand and their presence will have the greatest influence on your potential candidates and client base. According to Forbes, when employers encourage their employees to be active on social platforms, those employees are more likely to help increase sales. However, nearly 3 in 4 employees say their employer does not (or does not know how to) promote their employment brand on social media (Glassdoor). Meanwhile, 69% of jobseekers are more likely to apply for a job if the employer actively manages its employer brand (e.g., responds to reviews, updates their profile, shares updates on the culture and work environment, etc.). How you engage your employees and how they engage with you will contribute to and strengthen your employer brand and overall reputation on social media. Glassdoor recommends utilizing social media as a tool for employee engagement through:
- Collaboration and visibility
- Employee feedback
- Motivational work environment