If in April 2020, someone had told you that we would be facing some of the toughest conditions for attracting and retaining key talent within a year, you would not have believed them. But here we are, facing a sustained impact of that very reality.
Research shows that record numbers of employees are resigning from their roles or considering doing so as they hunger for greater meaning. Employees want purpose, a shared identity, and deeper connections from their work. In fact, due to the pandemic, some two-thirds of employees are reflecting on whether to stay with their current employers.
So what does the new normal mean for your business and your team?
As we all know, employee turnover is significant, both in terms of direct and indirect costs. Losing your talented employees at a time when there is a war on talent leaves you in a position where you could possibly lose your competitive advantage.
So, in today's article, I want to unpack how you can attract and retain key talent, even in highly competitive markets.
Why employees leave their employer
Further to some of the factors listed above, there are several reasons why employees leave an organisation.
A common misconception is that employees leave because of pay. This false perception is one key reason why many companies struggle to attract and retain their staff. A Gartner global survey in April 2021 found that the top reason an employee resigns was the quality of their manager, followed by people management and respect.
Interestingly, the key things employees are looking for when seeking an employment opportunity are work life balance, location and remuneration. So the reason someone leaves an organisation is not necessarily why they are looking to join an organisation.
Although it is good to be aware of external factors that impact the broader market, it's important to look at things a bit closer to home.
The first step to understanding your employees and their priorities is to simply ask them.
Rather than assuming what they've always wanted is still what they want or, worse yet, making assumptions in the first place about what they want, giving them a platform to share their thoughts and feedback is critical.
A disconnect between your leadership team's perception of what your team wants and needs and your employees' preferences can significantly impact your business. Focusing time, effort, resources and money on the wrong things means you may not be able to retain your employees nor be able to attract the right talent in an increasingly competitive labour market.
What your employees want may be as individual as the employees themselves. To obtain insights and data to help you understand your team and what drives them, conducting employee engagement surveys helps you collate and analyse feedback data to identify trends and possible risk areas, and plan accordingly.
Proactively engaging with your team and inviting their active participation in an employee engagement survey allows you to gather valuable data to help inform future decisions.
What is an employee engagement survey?
Employee engagement can be described as employee happiness, and whether they feel good about showing up to work. Deloitte describes it as “how people feel about the way things work around here”.
Undertaking regular, confidential employee engagement surveys ensures your team has a platform to openly and honestly share their thoughts and feedback about their work environment. When carefully designed and implemented, an effective employee engagement survey will reveal potential risks and opportunities otherwise previously unknown by your leadership team.
Without a tool to measure employee engagement, you have no way to make informed decisions or take informed actions to improve your team’s experiences at work.
Waiting to merely do an exit survey when someone is on the way out will not give the employees who are staying a voice or platform to share their thoughts. Only doing exit interviews is too little too late in many instances.
If you're really serious about having a highly engaged team, the results of an annual engagement survey should be part of a management KPI. Such an approach ensures employee engagement is kept front and centre and gets the attention and focus it deserves.
Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
Once you have understood how your employees feel about work and are committed to retaining your top talent and attracting new talent to your organisation, it's essential to capture what it actually means to work in your organisation. You need to articulate the 'big picture' of what an employee receives – outside of pay – when they work with you. That's called the employee value proposition, or EVP.
An effective EVP will help you as an organisation grab the attention of external talent to want to join your organisation while at the same time ensuring that you can retain your current key team players.
An EVP captures and communicates the tangible and intangible benefits and other factors that make up what it means to work at your organisation. Unfortunately, there is often a disconnect between leader’s perspectives and what employees value, so getting their feedback to help shape your EVP is critical.
Notably, Gartner highlight that less than one-third of HR leaders believe their workforce is happy with the company’s EVP.
Your EVP is crucial because it tells future candidates and current employees what they get in return for working with you.
As we already know, pay is not the sole factor for consideration regarding whether someone joins or leaves an organisation. Understanding and communicating clearly what the overall value proposition is to work in your organisation is critical to ensuring your competitive advantage by having the right people in the right roles.
So how do you develop and define your EVP?
Although an EVP sounds complex, it doesn't need to be. There are certain areas that each organisation should consider in terms of developing its unique EVP.
Considering things like remuneration and reward, ways of working, learning and development, well-being and the working environment will ensure you have a well-thought-out and considered approach to your EVP.
Your EVP needs to be unique to you and your organisation. Think about what makes your organisation a place that people want to come to and work. By obtaining information from your team via an employee engagement survey, you will have valuable data to help you elevate and articulate your EVP.
Consider all of the rewards, benefits and practices within your organisation. This can't be a wishlist of items. They need to be real and tangible and actually represent the sum of all the experiences an employee gets from working in your organisation.
Once you have defined your EVP, the next challenge is to ensure that it's implemented effectively.
It must be lived.
If you have oversold your EVP or misrepresented what it really is, a new employee will not last long, and you will find yourselves back in the tight market looking for fresh talent.
The implementation needs to be across both its internal and external applications. That is, you need to consider how you can promote and celebrate your EVP to your current employees and use it as a tool to attract new talent to your organisation.