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Three Drivers That Will Increase Retention—Why It’s Vital to Communicate Them Today

By Cathie Ericson | 3-min read


Retention is the No. 1 issue facing companies today; in fact, according to one survey, 60 percent of employees plan to look for a new job in 2019. Savvy organizations know that it’s vital to offer programs that bolster the employee experience—and communicate them to their team regularly and thoughtfully. Here are three drivers that can increase retention.

1. Create customized benefits.

For years, companies focused on buzz-worthy perks—from that foosball table to Friday afternoon happy hour.

But when it comes to benefits in today’s corporate culture, one-size-doesn’t-fit all. Variables like an employee’s demographic and current life stage affect ever-evolving wants and needs, begging the question, should your benefits reflect the diversity of your workforce?

A survey by Willis Towers Watson reveals that these flexible benefits are becoming increasingly necessary. In fact, two-thirds of employers predict that benefit options will be be an important part of their employee value proposition in the near future. Some forward-thinking companies are offering a menu of benefits, which allows your team to choose what’s meaningful to them, whether that’s student loan repayment or long-term care insurance. 

LinkedIn is an example of a company finding success with this strategy through a program called “Perk Up.” The initiative provides $2,000 a year for each worker to use on the lifestyle perks that suit them. One of the keys to its success? Consistent communication with employees. The company uses a number of channels, like an internal blog and group chat, to share information about the program. They’ve also encouraged feedback by opening a benefits poll on the intranet.

2. Provide professional development.

Professional development is frequently cited as one of the top benefits that workers want and need. In fact, an astonishing 94 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if they felt it invested in their career.

Companies that offer robust opportunities for continuing development—and communicate them clearly—will not only earn the loyalty of their staff, they will also reap the benefits of employee’s new skills.

Top companies that prioritize ongoing skill-building programs include AT&T, which offers leadership and management training, as well as access to self-paced curriculum in topics like data analytics and tech entrepreneurship; and business analytics leader SAS, which provides in-class and on-the-job training in leadership and career development. “Knowledge workers never want to be stagnant. SAS provides opportunities for growth to keep our employees challenged, motivated and engaged,” Shannon Heath, senior communications specialist at SAS, tells Glassdoor.  

While the cost of providing training programs might seem steep, the cost of doing nothing is even worse, says Jeremy Auger of D2L (Desire to Learn), explaining that failing to give workers access to continual learning will lead to the costly issues of employee turnover, recruitment challenges and lack of innovation, among others.

The key to encouraging team members to participate in professional development opportunities is to promote available programs using internal communication channels. While all-department trainings can help build camaraderie, consider balancing them with alternatives that suit each employee’s current interests and needs.

Another option is to offer a set amount of “professional development dollars” for workers to use as they see fit. Then encourage them to share what they learned through a short presentation or company blog post—not only does that promote the program’s value, it also helps cement the knowledge—and your investment.

3. Encourage various types of career paths.

Many individuals no longer want the traditional “career ladder,” instead opting for a path that might resemble a “lattice” or other lateral movement.

Job rotations are an important retention tool for staff who crave a consistent challenge—they won’t have to seek it externally—and also for those who enjoy the work and the company but don’t necessarily want to move into management because of their personality type or a desire for work/life balance.

A recent survey from Willis Towers Watson shows that this could be vital as more than 70 percent of “high retention risk” employees believe they would have to leave their organization to advance their careers. Embracing creative models and regularly sharing new opportunities allows you to retain workers by offering them a “new” job at the same company. 

Rotational programs can take different forms. Many companies, such as financial firms like HSBC and consulting firms like Deloitte, have designated programs specifically for new, younger hires to help them decide what path they might like to take. Other companies, like Edelman PR and Emerson, offer new lateral opportunities for high-performing candidates at later stages of their career. 

One challenge related to alternative career paths is making sure that the opportunities are clearly communicated to all employees. In fact, a survey by Robert Half found that although the participating CFOs felt positively about the effects of their company’s job rotation program, less than half actively promoted it. Strategic communications options include an internal job board and social media channels, with a hashtag such as #internaljobposting.

As we enter 2019, many companies are focused on retaining high-performing talent in a tight job market. By communicating the many ways your company is committed to its team, you can reinforce those bonds that create loyalty—and keep your valued workers on board for the long haul.