The 2 Biggest Influencers of Employee Retention

Guest Contributorby Lizz Pellet | Posted | Engagement

The 2 Biggest Influencers of Employee Retention

Organizational culture plays an integral role in an organization's talent management strategy. Without a cultural connection to the employee experience it can lose the whole "experience" part and can become just a process that we go through to earn money.

Some companies are just fine with this. These are looked at as the churn and burn jobs where people go through positions quickly to move up or move on from in order to make the next buck. It is a relatively simple approach, but in the end can be a significant money drain on the organization.

Taking a more strategic approach to attracting the right cultural fit by implementing a strategy to retain and engage employees helps create a higher level of commitment and profitability. While the notion of "attract" and "retain" are widely understood, we also need to keep in mind the importance of creating an authentic and congruent employment brand that will repel the employees that just won't fit in the first place.

Factors affecting employee retention

touchpoints for retention

When it comes to changing jobs, we've all been there and done that. At some point in our work history, we left, we split, we "stepped out the back, Jack and made a new plan, Stan". The when and how we did it are vastly different but the why often comes down to the employee experience

Of the four factors presented above, the two factors most often discussed that can directly affect retention in a positive and negative way are leadership and compensation (pay/benefits). Determining which of these two factors is more prevalent in your organization as it relates to turn over can easily be done by examining exit interviews or employee engagement survey data. Data talks - looking at anything else is too subjective to make any concrete analysis.

In talent management we intuitively know retention is the goal in the hiring process and it is built into our talent strategy but the top two challenges of keeping the best employees come down to:

Leadership (My boss is a jerk)

In a September 2015 article in Entrepreneur magazine, Travis Bradberry states, "Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don't leave jobs; they leave managers." And right he is. They leave the leader for a variety of reasons, but one resounding theme tends to emerge - my boss is a jerk. Now following that statement we could plug in many things that make that boss a jerk to one employee while making him/her endearing to the next, but when you come across a leader that irks you in some significant way, usually you'll start looking to move on.

A Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two had left their job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.

Think about your own experience. Have you ever worked somewhere that at the end of the day had left you thinking how the heck did my boss get their job? Really, how did they end up in a leadership role when no one respects them, they treat people like robots, they constantly talk over you, they know nothing about what you really do, but love to give direction or they hide in the office all day and are just too busy when you need them? You get the gist here and could probably add 20 more reasons, but the bottom line is, your boss is a jerk.

Devil Wears Prada

Image credit: Devil Wears Prada | Twentieth Century Fox

Compensation (They don't pay me enough to put up with this stuff)

They say money can't buy love or happiness which may be true, but it also doesn't buy you loyal employees. You cannot pay for loyalty, even though many organizations think money drives retention, the statistics and intuition tell us differently.

Pay and benefits are a driver to many individuals and to some people the extrinsic benefits of the organization can outweigh the intrinsic benefits. Employees can withstand and overlook things when they feel highly compensated, but when they feel they are under paid, (read underappreciated here), there is a lot less toleration. While there are many statistics that state deciding to stay at a job is not just about the money, oftentimes it's the irritants that employees deal with on a daily basis that force them to look elsewhere. And when those irritants get annoying enough, employees will say, they just don't pay me enough to put up with this stuff.

Other factors influencing the compensation process

Organizational dynamics and culture also play a big role in the compensation process. Have you ever worked an entire year only to learn that the profitability of the company wasn't healthy, so no one is getting a raise? It happens and it lends itself to a decision to stay or move on. If you are marketable, you start to look at options. You know, business is business so you don't take it personally. But, if you've ever worked at an organization where raises are given "across the board" regardless of individual contribution, well "business is business" has a much different effect on retention. The reality of these situations happens all too often, but the travesty is you may have had to wait an entire year to hear the news.

There is no magic formula for retention that yields a high level of dedication and commitment from your workforce, but culture can be nurtured to mitigate these two reasons that people leave and can create a higher desire to stay on.

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