Frontline: Increasing Employee Retention

Career Path Planning

Company leaders take considerable effort and expense to identify, interview, and hire great employees. With today’s small labor pool and constant turnover, retaining these new hires is critical to remaining operable. Employee retention should be a top priority for all companies.

The costs associated with employee turnover can include downtime in production, lost customers and business, as well as damage to employee morale. In addition, there are costs incurred in screening, verifying credentials and references, interviewing, hiring and training a new employee.

Companies that focus on the overall career path and well-being of their employees tend to have higher retention rates. In other words, companies that take an interest in the needs and long-term success of their employees seem to keep them longer.

Effective Retention

To understand how to retain good employees, you first need to know what they’re looking for. Today, the best employees want:

  • Career development opportunities and a chance to grow in their chosen field
  • Regular feedback on how both they and the company are doing
  • A chance to contribute directly to the organization and be recognized for doing so
  • Flexible work schedules that recognize their need for work/life balance
  • A good salary or wage with opportunity to increase it over time
  • Benefits tailored to their individual needs

Retention through Career Path & Professional Development

A July 2021 survey conducted by Monster found that:

  • 29% of workers named lack of growth opportunities as their reason for wanting to quit.
  • 80% of workers do not think their current employer offers growth opportunities.
  • 49% of workers expect their employer to play a part in career development.

As we consider this data, it’s important to remember that employees who believe their employers make effective use of their talents and abilities have proven to be more committed to staying on the job.

Everyone benefits from effective career path planning. Employees gain clarity on what steps they can take to further their career, along with training and development opportunities to make it happen. In return, employers get more engaged workers and a clearer idea of how to position the right people, in the right places, to enhance growth.

Creating a career path for employees can give you a competitive hiring edge over other companies, retain key workers and keep younger workers, that tend to have high turnover, as they look for the right organizational “fit.”

Planning Professional Development and Career Paths

HR professionals and managers are expected to use training and development to help build closer relationships and improve engagement among workers. Providing ongoing professional development to your employees demonstrates your willingness to invest in your greatest asset – your workforce. A few ways employers can support professional development and encourage retention of valued employees is to:

  • Create a career path for employees
    • Using your job descriptions and organizational chart, create the roadmaps or professional paths for each department, team, or business function. How does an entry-level employee advance through roles? What horizontal moves are necessary? How can you accommodate different personality types?
    • Keep in mind that there won’t be one path that connects each role to an advanced role. If you don’t have highly specialized job roles, you will potentially have many more career paths. This can be a great strength and help each employee find the specific career that’s right for them. Many will include one or more lateral moves.
    • For new hires, you will do this during onboarding. With existing employees, their managers will do this during performance reviews.
    • During the career mapping meeting, managers should discuss the employee’s short- and long-term goals and expectations. That means you’ll need to start training your managers if they aren’t already doing this. Managers will assess performance and discuss the sequence of jobs going forward. Make sure your managers schedule ongoing training. Include the career map in the employee’s files.
  • Foster employee development through training
    • A company invests in its staff members by promoting their continued professional development. On-the-job training remains a primary means of professional development, but many additional possibilities exist. Professional development should become a routine and natural aspect of a company’s management philosophy. Providing opportunities to gain new skills and increase knowledge is a very effective staff retention technique, second only to staff recognition.
  • Get managers involved with coaching employees
    • Employees can gain job knowledge, management skills, career development guidance, and general company knowledge, or simply establish a trusting relationship with their manager, through a mentoring relationship. Mentoring can provide a forum in which to pass along the accumulated management’s wisdom of years of practice. Recognition of the special potential of the mentee may encourage an employee to stay with the company.

Use Succession Planning and Career Growth as Incentives

Succession management planning refers to the identification and development of potential successors in a company. The key in succession management is to create a match between the company’s future needs and the aspirations of individual employees. A well-developed succession planning process increases the retention of superior employees because they recognize that time, attention and skill development is being invested in them for the purpose of career development. When you continue to challenge and reward talented employees, you eliminate their need to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Promote from within when possible

Promoting from within can be a win-win situation for a small business. Not only does the company save time and money, but overall employee morale is strengthened as well. Many organizations use promotion from within as a motivation tool and a reward for good work or longevity with the organization.