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How to Increase Retention

January 7, 1999
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Related Topics: Retention, Featured Article
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There are two types of employee turnover: Unavoidable and avoidable. Unavoidable turnover results from life decisions that extend beyond an employer’s control, such as a decision to move to a new area or a job transfer for a spouse.

With recent studies showing that nearly 80 percent of turnover is due to hiring mistakes, many of these mistakes can be avoided, according to Drake Beam Morin, the career management and career consulting firm. Companies need to take certain steps when selecting and evaluating potential candidates:

Hire the Right Person.
Most turnover is due to issues of chemistry or fit within an organization. Employers are quickly adopting the strategy of "hire for attitude, train for skill." By doing a thorough analysis of the core competencies required for a position, you’ll be better prepared to conduct a behavioral-based interview process.

Integrate for Success.
The first few weeks of employment are the most critical time to lay the groundwork for long-term employee commitment. Corning Glass cut turnover dramatically by implementing a thorough, well-executed orientation program. Demonstrating employer commitment to a new hire’s success early on fosters trust and commitment from the employee in the organization.

Phase in Training.
Rather than throw a new employee into several weeks of job-specific training right away, provide them with basic training at the outset. As they build experience and time with the company, you can then offer further training in recognition of their growth.

Provide Growth Opportunities.
The irony of retaining good people is that the more they feel they are able to grow and become more marketable, the more likely they are to stay. Employees are taking ownership of their careers and recognize the need to continuously refine and upgrade their skills. The more easily accessible and relevant training that you can offer, the greater the likelihood that turnover rates will decline.

Align Competencies with Contributions.
Try to match the skills and interests of your employees with their work assignments. Do employees seem interested or best suited to what they’re doing? Make the necessary adjustments to ensure that employees are effectively aligned with what the company needs them to do and what they are best at and enjoy doing.

Motivate the Troops.
Assess the underlying motivators for work beyond the paycheck. High-tech employees are often motivated when recognized for their unique skill sets, whereas a service organization is more likely to have employees excited about helping others. Check your assumptions, then design strategies to reinforce what matters most.

Make Rewards Count.
Rewards should be immediate, appropriate and personal. Receiving a bonus check at the end of the year may mean less than smaller, more frequent payouts. A personal note means more than a generic company award. You may want to survey employees for their input on desired forms of recognition, then use the findings when it comes time to reward employees.

Enlist Problem Solvers.
When possible, invite employees to help solve company problems. Rather than stating the problem from a corporate perspective and implementing a solution, discuss with employees the consequences of the problem and enlist their aid in helping to solve it. This shared approach creates deep ownership for employees in the company’s success.

Practice What You Preach.
People do not necessarily commit to an organization; they commit to the employees and culture that drive the organization. Employees are most content when they are able to become an integral part of their work community. Establish your corporate values, then make sure you walk the talk.

Sweat the Exit Interview.
Knowing why employees left is instrumental in understanding turnover rates. Ensure that the interviewer is someone the exiting employee trusts, to capture the most honest feedback. Tracking reasons for departures may uncover patterns that, when addressed, help stem further turnover.

Source: Drake Beam Morin, a human resource services and consulting company with 181 offices in more than 36 countries, December 21, 1998.

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