We’re in an employee-focused market. Steady job growth and record-low unemployment rates have empowered the best talent to leverage the best opportunities at their disposal. This might spell bad news for their employers, as a McKinsey report notes that only 23 percent of managers and senior executives believe their current recruiting and retention strategies are effective. The pressure is on for companies to retain top talent, but many don’t seem to have the right tools for the job.
Business leaders can’t expect to completely stop the outflow of talent under these conditions. The competition is simply too intense. But considering that the replacement cost for an employee earning $45,000 a year can be as much as $15,000, businesses also can’t just keep going through the motions.
While you can’t shield team members from attractive opportunities and savvy recruiters, you can fortify the retention framework that keeps your workforce happy. If you do, fewer of your top employees will be running for the exit.
Here are three strategies you can use to ensure you’re doing all you can to retain your best talent:
1. Cultivate a Culture Based on Core Values
A retention strategy that establishes employee loyalty and marks your business as a desirable employer starts with your company’s foundational culture.
In general, company cultures arise in one of two basic ways. Some companies aimlessly adopt some semblance of a culture based on the collected but ill-defined experiences of current team members. Other companies take decisive steps to nurture core values and goals that align with the overall vision of the company.
Both are ways to develop a culture, but only one sets a business up to successfully revamp its retention strategy. When you intentionally establish core values and actively encourage teams to embody them in their day-to-day activities, you turn those core values into a sort of occupational muscle memory as opposed to a forced workflow.
For example, the core values that we live and breathe at SecurityScorecard — and which we highlight every week at our Monday morning all-hands meetings — are our “S(CORE) values.” This stands for making sure your workday is solutions-focused and customer-centric; it highlights that we are all “one Scorecard,” that we must strive to be resilient, and that we embody security in our company DNA.
These general but fundamental building blocks are necessary to get the entire workforce on the same page. Companies that adopt clearly defined ideals show employees they are more than just space-fillers at a desk with dollar signs attached. When it comes to fighting staff turnover, the differentiator lies in the first crucial step of putting the time and energy into building a culture that is inclusive and desirable.
For more expert recruiting advice, check out the latest issue of Recruiter.com Magazine:
2. Enhance Your Employee Recognition Efforts
Companies revamping their retention programs must think beyond what employees do and account for how they do it. The next step from establishing a constructive and healthy company culture is rewarding those who operate within it.
This concept isn’t anything new, and 81 percent of companies already have formal recognition programs in place. The real difference lies in bringing education and enrichment — professionally and personally — into the recognition framework.
That means establishing legitimate leadership and peer programs to reward a range of employees. For instance, we’re rolling out a high-potential leadership program that highlights leaders in the organization to specifically nurture and assist them in their career development through assessments and one-on-one sessions with an executive coach. Such top-level programs can be supplemented by more casual and fun peer-nominated recognition, like an “ABCD” award to showcase team members who have gone “Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.”
The second, and perhaps most important, part of employee recognition is establishing a robust internal promotion practice. When you allow employees to quickly move up the company ladder through an achievable set of steps, you empower them. They have a clear potential career plan in front of them, and they can follow it without having to jump ship.
3. Offer a Unique Career Opportunity Tied to the Company’s Mission
From a code geek’s perspective, our company is about making sure that everyone is speaking the language of cybersecurity. From a higher perspective, we are all here to help make the world a safer place. Our people really hold onto that mission because it’s personal; they feel part of something bigger. Other companies worried about retention should instill such a higher calling in their employees as well.
In a niche market like cybersecurity, people are attracted to the opportunity to create new technology in a space that didn’t exist a decade ago. It’s a very different experience than simply trying to gain market share in a crowded space. As a result, workers have a unique opportunity to make an impact. For example, when a worker sees some of their code put into motion and making a difference within a month, it pushes them to strive for the next level.
The takeaway here is this: Encourage participation in the company’s bigger mission and tie talent’s experiences to the bigger picture. Your employees will be more invested in the work they do — and less likely to go searching for meaningful work elsewhere.
Trent Blanchard is vice president of people operations at SecurityScorecard.