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Why employees leave and what you can do about it

Why employees leave and what you can do about it

Businesses are built on the talent they employ. However, global skill shortages mean staff retention is a constant struggle for many employers. A recent KellyOCG survey revealed that 63 per cent of employees around the world expect to switch jobs in the next year.

The same survey also found that employees will recommend their employer for two major reasons: if the company has a solid reputation and if there is opportunity for personal growth or career advancement.

Findings such as these offer valuable insight into what modern workers like in a job. People want to know what’s happening next in their careers and work with companies that care about their employees – and they’re willing to leave their current role in pursuit of these things.

Internal opportunities help keep workers engaged

While workers’ loyalty to employers is declining, improving job satisfaction can help retain key employees. Modern workers are focused on skills development and how their current role prepares them for the next job. One way to improve satisfaction is to outline a clear career-progression plan with employees.

As an example, Australia Post recently rolled out its Post People 1st campaign, which aims to fill internal vacancies from a database of more than 30,000 employees. The corporation designed the initiative to make the most of its current workforce while improving job satisfaction by opening up internal career pathways to every employee.

Under the program, a delivery truck driver could receive a company-funded education, providing them with the skills they need to work in logistics or retail. The program then allows them to apply for the relevant role before it was open to the public. Such initiatives can provide workers with incentive to further their career within their current employer, rather than leaving in pursuit of other opportunities.

This kind of internal mobility isn’t restricted to large organisations with huge reserves of manpower. In a small business context, companies can develop employees by increasing the scope of their job, such as empowering them to pursue a new business stream, or allowing them to shadow company leaders to high-level client meetings.

Career progression is now a lattice, not a ladder

Many organisations now use a ‘career lattice’ rather than a 'career ladder' to engage and develop their employees, according to a report from HR software provider Fuel50.

Under the ‘career lattice’ model, employers offer internal staff job opportunities even if they don’t have the required competencies to fit the role. Employers view all hires as long-term projects who will hopefully gain a complete understanding of the business’s operations during their tenure.

“In fact, motivational research firmly attests that when people are given the chance to 'step up', they are more motivated and actually become more engaged,” the report said.

Exposing employees to new parts of the business gives them many different potential ways in which to prove themselves and advance their careers. New experiences can help build each worker's capability and encourage them to remain engaged with their current employer

Money doesn’t motivate

Throwing the chequebook at valuable employees is an excellent short-term retention measure, but do a few extra dollars actually solve why a worker was looking for a new job in the first place?

According to the two-factor theory, money is a hygiene factor – something that doesn't improve motivation or job satisfaction, but will cause dissatisfaction if not improved over time. According to this theory, an employee won't work harder if given more money, but will complain if they aren't getting enough of it. Other hygiene factors include job security, fringe benefits, work conditions and vacations.

What truly motivates people (and therefore helps businesses retain them) are the conditions that make a job rewarding. Employers can make a job more rewarding by including activities such as recognition, achievement and personal growth. For example, giving employees more responsibility or more involvement in decision-making has far greater long-term retention benefits than a 10 per cent pay increase and a parking space.

Want to land those top employees who are dissatisfied at other organisations? Find out how to develop a strategy to find and secure them through social media.

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