Employee engagement is paramount for attracting and retaining every single employee, even the most actively disengaged ones in the new normal. So, how can organisations keep a tab on attrition amid uncertainties? Which retention strategies work in the new remote work ecosystem? Keep reading to find out.
As companies baffled by the global disruption are slowly settling into the new-normal, old challenges have resurfaced in manifolds. Indian organisations are currently facing a massive talent flux and exodus. The attrition rate in the Indian IT sector is at an all-time high—analysts anticipate 22-23% attrition in 2021, which works out to one million resignations on a projected base of 4.6 million IT employees.
Gone are the days when a paycheque was the single most important factor to keep an employee glued to his/her organisation. Employees want more. It doesn’t necessarily mean an overdose of perks or an exhaustive list of benefit plans. All play and less work don’t make the cut either.
Today’s employee is a microcosm of the fast-paced external world. He is quick to respond, easily influenced, and decides to jump the boat when slightly dissatisfied. Millennials are a different theme altogether as they often juggle with jobs, multiple interest areas and need help to focus and chart out their careers.
How do you keep a tab on attrition amid such a diverse pool of talent? Which retention strategies work in the new remote work ecosystem?
Organisations are evolving a model similar to that of customer retention to keep the employee engaged. Surveys have proven time and again that job satisfaction is as important as salary packages. Job security is estimated to be another key criterion for satisfaction at the job. Now with the pandemic resetting the realities — healthcare benefits also have come into focus.
As attrition soars, companies are reinventing their employee engagement strategy. Gallup’s latest study on the U.S. market states, “after a rollercoaster of 2020, U.S. employee engagement increased to 39% in January, up from 36% late last year.” Employee engagement efforts have been on the rise in India too. Indian IT companies are offering “cool perks and heavy pay hikes to attract and retain employees.” The list of perks includes the likes of luxury bikes, foreign trips, high-tech gadgets, generous incentives, and retention bonuses. But the pertinent question remains—how much luring can we do with gadgets, perks, and trips? Employee engagement needs to be holistic, all-inclusive, and real-time. It ought to look to engage every single employee, even the most actively disengaged ones.
A resolute employee engagement strategy must appeal to these three broad categories of employees (based on the pattern of their association with organisations)—the loyalist (who usually has long innings with any company), the smart-shifter (who shifts jobs when time is right or sees a benefit to his role), and the amateur (who is still experimenting and has a track record of serving less than a year in his jobs).
Surveys show that new employees tend to stay when they are better informed about their role during the hiring process. Hiring right is not limited to looking for the right skill set, but also ensuring the hired resource fits well within the company culture, managers, and co-workers.
Before setting out to revamping the retention plan, let us get to the basics.
Calculate the Turnover Rate
Gauge your turnover rate and compare it with the previous years. Among these numbers, what costs your company the most are ‘regrettable’ and ‘avoidable’ turnovers—where an employee who is deemed important leaves and the reasons for his/her departure are within the control of the employer. The Wall Street Journal in a survey found that “a high employee turnover rate can cost twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement.”
How do we mitigate and circumvent high turnovers in the new normal?
Here are a few strategies you dive into.
Upskill All-Year-Round: About 94% of employees surveyed by LinkedIn for its ‘Workplace Learning Report’ state that they would stay in a company if it invested in their professional development. Creating an active, all-year-round learning ecosystem is key to reducing attrition. Upskilling programmes that are constant, engaging and operate at employees’ convenience yet at the same time motivate them to raise the bar, are important. BCTLearning Gateway is a specialised upskilling program we launched as we moved to complete work from home mode and had been a tremendous success. An agile anytime-anywhere learning platform and a structured learning path, accessible through mobile and other platforms, can result in a minimum of a twofold increase in reskilled talent.
Adopt a Pre-Emptive Hiring Strategy: Glassdoor claims that 35% of employers hire thinking that one-third of their new employees will leave that year. Surveys show that new employees tend to stay when they are better informed about their role during the hiring process. Hiring right is not limited to looking for the right skill set, but also ensuring the hired resource fits well within the company culture, managers, and co-workers. Adopt a strategy of pre-emptive hiring where the HR team can inform the management on the attrition rate in the market for a particular role and preemptively adopt contingency measures to keep it in check. This should be done across all roles, especially critical roles and midlevel technology roles where talent poaching is the highest.
At Bahwan CyberTek, we have launched BCT Relaunch, a career program exclusively for women professionals who have left their careers for personal reasons, to rejoin the workforce. This garners a lot of high-end talent and we support such professionals with mentoring to ensure a smooth transition into the mainstream.
Onboard Smartly, Mentor New Hires: Smarter onboarding is the cheat sheet to ensure that your new hires are set for success. Communication on company culture, values, and leadership are critical within the time period of the first 30 days and handholding them to settle down into the folds has shown amazing results in retention. Research shows that organizations with strong onboarding practices improve employee retention by 82% and productivity by more than 70%. Buddying up your new hires with seasoned employees acts as one of the best retention plans—the hires get direct, first-hand, and inperson inputs about the company and its work culture. BCT Amigos have done an amazing job of anchoring the new joiners into the system. Choosing employees who are actively invested and engaged with the company as mentors/ buddies are the key here.
Invest in Flexible Work Models: Employees today look for flexible options and are against the regular 9-hour routine. Flexible work hours and remote models allow them to spend time with family, travel around, and still keep the lights on. This is one of the major repercussions of the pandemic and companies should meet their employees halfway here. The Talent Accelerator Study conducted by Citrix states that 88% of knowledge workers claim to look for flexible work options (in hours and location) when they look for a new position.
Look beyond the Regular Talent Pool: Often companies subscribe only to the regular talent pool. This means that if you’re hiring high-end talent, you need to invest more, and there is more at stake. Develop a lateral hiring plan. At Bahwan CyberTek, we have launched BCT Relaunch, a career program exclusively for women professionals who have left their careers for personal reasons, to rejoin the workforce. This garners a lot of high-end talent and we support such professionals with mentoring to ensure a smooth transition into the mainstream. We also look to bring ex-employees back to the company—this has been rewarding in more ways than one and has spiralled our employer brand value.
Keep a Tab on Employee’s Pulse: It is important to constantly keep in touch with your employee. Knowing the pulse of what your workforce thinks about a particular policy, a new development, and the general workflow is a must. We have deployed a simple tool called Mood-o-Meter to gauge the mood of our employees several times a day. At the click of a button in email communication, an employee is able to tell us what he/she feels like at that moment. Leveraging the experience management platform, DropThought, we analyse the mood of our employees periodically. Anyone who is consistently unhappy or perturbed is a cause for concern—we set out to find the reasons through diverse channels (teammates, manager, HR personnel) and alleviate and support them.
Recognise, Engage and Build a Cohort: Recognition is the icing on the cake for any employee. Ensure you have a strong recognition platform that considers all possible parameters and rewards for employees not just during appraisals but all year round. Our R&R platform allows employees to appreciate each other even for a simple task. To boost morale and liven up work, we orchestrate talent engagement activities all through the year. BGT (BCT’s Got Talent) forum allows employees to showcase their skills outside of work. HumansofBCT is a weekly long-running and most successful social media series, features the human side of BCTians, their interests, hobbies, and favourite pastimes. Charge is a series of motivational talks by renowned speakers aimed at transforming and empowering employees with health, hope, and positivity for a more inspired life and career.
Build a Culture That Cares: Build a culture that is inclusive, supportive, and inspiring. Invest in caring for employees and make them feel appreciated and recognised. WATER (our Women’s Advancement, Transformation, Empowerment, and Recognition forum) encourages women professionals to excel in their careers and strike out a work-life balance with talks, interviews, sessions, and professional training. Long-term employees need as much support and pampering as new hires. We have initiatives to recognise and reward long-termers as well. BCTCare4U has been anchoring a series of healthcare initiatives and assistance to keep the employees and families safe and healthy through the pandemic phase. In addition, we have multiple measures that take ‘Employee Delight’ to a whole new level— compensation intervention, growth acceleration through promotion, sponsorship of esteemed university learning programs for nurturing key talent, health, and insurance policies to promote employee and family well-being, etc.
Earning Your Employees Trust is Pivotal to Employee Retention
A one-size-fits-all strategy that rains benefits, higher salary packages, or extravagant gadgets might work, but not in all cases. Fostering a strong working relationship with your employee and cultivating a culture of inclusion, appreciation, and trust works in the long run. Your future employee wants a role that is meaningful, rewarding and an organisation where he/she feels belonged.