ERC President Kelly Keefe Talks Proactive Strategies to Retain Workers

ERC President Kelly Keefe Talks Proactive Strategies to Retain Workers
Kelly Keefe Talks Proactive Strategies to Retain Workers

All too often, organizations are reactive in their efforts to retain their workforce. Especially during periods of talent scarcity, companies try to make quick fixes, such as increasing starting pay rates for new hires.

While this may remedy the symptoms in the short term, it doesn’t solve the issue of voluntary turnover in the long term. In fact, many employers are now struggling with wage compression and employee job hopping after they sharply increased their base wages in 2021 and 2022. Retaining a skilled and motivated workforce should remain a top priority for all employers, irrespective of external market conditions.

Beyond offering competitive compensation, organizations should cultivate environments that nurture professional growth, prioritize employee well-being, and foster inclusivity. This approach not only mitigates the risk of talent attrition during periods of stability but also positions companies to thrive in a rapidly changing business environment.

Using ERC’s data on award-winning organizations, we’ve outlined a handful of proactive strategies that can help fortify and retain your workforce – regardless of labor market conditions.

Conduct an Employee Engagement Survey to Assess Motivating Factors

Before you can move the needle with your talent retention efforts, it’s crucial to get a baseline understanding of where your employees’ heads are at.

Approximately 70% of award-winning organizations administer an employee engagement survey annually to assess their team’s commitment and satisfaction with their work and organization.

EES Surveys

An employee engagement survey can help you better understand the needs, values, perspectives, and expectations of your employees. Survey instruments, like ERC’s pulse and standard engagement surveys, can determine the factors that may be leading to employee turnover, whether they may be organization-wide or isolated to a certain department or location.

Engagement surveys help you identify and improve areas of concern, leverage your organizational strengths, and enhance your overall engagement strategy – allowing you to both retain and engage more workers in the long term.

Nurture Employee Professional Growth

Roughly 98% of award-winning organizations in Northeast Ohio deliver, pay for, or reimburse employees who participate in managerial or supervisory training classes.

These top companies know that investing in the development of employees not only enhances their skills and knowledge, but also fosters a sense of loyalty and commitment.

Professional development programs, like mentoring programs, training programs, and individual development paths, can help your workers improve their job performance and reach their career goals, which in turn, can boost their morale and satisfaction.

This creates a win-win situation for all parties! Your employees feel more empowered and cared for, and your organization benefits from having a skilled and motivated workforce.

4 Proactive Ways to Retain Workers

Prioritize Employee Well-Being

In addition to providing training and development, organizations can contribute to improved retention by prioritizing well-being initiatives.

Below are a few examples of actionable strategies that award-winning organizations in Northeast Ohio use to enhance the overall health and happiness of their workers.

  • Regular check-ins: 99% of organizations have an established practice of checking in with employees on topics ranging from work-life balance and organizational support to mental health.
  • Unlimited PTO Carryover: 63% provide paid time off to employees as a maximum allowance per year with carry-over of unused time off.
  • Flexible work arrangements: 51% offer one or more fully paid, compressed workweek options on a permanent basis to help employees find balance in their lives.
  • Personal and professional support: 93% provide an Employee Assistance Program to help employees with stress or mental health issues, improve financial wellness, and access counseling services.
  • Comfortable office equipment: 85% provide their employees with ergonomic workspace equipment to improve comfort and increase productivity.

When organizations successfully implement employee well-being initiatives, they cater to the diverse needs of their workforce, retain valuable talent, and position themselves as employers of choice.

Foster a Culture of Inclusivity

A diverse workforce brings together varied backgrounds and new perspectives in the workplace. When individuals feel included and appreciated for their unique contributions, it positively impacts their job satisfaction, and satisfied employees are more likely to remain with a company.

Organizations that want to build an inclusive culture must prioritize fairness and equal opportunities. They must provide employees with a level playing field for career advancement to ensure that their growth is supported and unbiased.

For example, on average, award-winning organizations take twice as many actions to proactively support pay equity than non-winning organizations. These actions include:

  • Ensuring promotions are offered according to a well-documented set of requirements.
  • Conducting proper analysis to establish an objective performance management system.
  • Evaluating succession planning to increase the number of women and minorities in leadership.

By creating a culture of inclusivity, employees feel respected, valued, and empowered to be their best selves. This sense of connection can lead to stronger emotional ties to the company, increasing the likelihood that they will choose to stay.

Evaluate and Compare Your Retention Strategies

Whether the labor market is tight or stable, it’s always a good time to take proactive steps to engage and retain your workforce. Even if you have already mastered the strategies listed above, you should consider assessing where your organization stands compared to your peers. Apply for ERC’s NorthCoast 99 award to gauge whether your company’s talent retention practices align with the best employers in our region. You might be surprised by what you discover!

Kelly Keefe

Kelly Keefe, SHRM-SCP
President, ERC