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Successful employee retention requires new approaches

Jul 01, 2022

In upending the workforce over the past two years, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that organizations need to redouble their attention on employee engagement and retention.

The Great Resignation — now sometimes called the Great Renegotiation — has persisted. In November 2021, a record 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs. A recent Harris Poll found that 23% of employed Americans plan to leave their employers within the next 10 months, with the majority of them already job hunting in January and February 2022.

Effective employee engagement policies are no longer the sole purview of human resources departments. Leaders and managers throughout an organization can take steps to better engage teams on a regular basis.

Indeed, employee engagement surveys show that poor management and mistrust in leaders are major reasons that people leave, along with the absence of meaningful coaching and career development opportunities.

What are the crucial steps financial institution can take to improve their engagement and retention levels?

Optimize onboarding

It all starts with onboarding. Whether you onboard new hires remotely, in person or in a hybrid capacity, consider their experiences and the expectations you’re communicating. At this stage, compliance requirements mean that HR, IT and finance/accounting teams are likely to be involved. The quality of the onboarding in these areas can make a significant impact on the experience of new employees as much as their direct manager and immediate teammates can.

 Here are some questions to asak yourself about your current onboarding process?

  • Does the onboarding experience extend beyond the first day or week?
  • Are your employees getting introduced and socialized with their team?
  • What practices are you using to set up a positive manager-employee experience?

Consider implementing 30-, 60- and 90-day check-ins with employees. Adjust training content or timing depending on the feedback. Looking at your new-hire turnover rates could provide information and perspectives affecting your processes.

Internal development

Initiating conversations with employees about their current skillset and how they’d envision it developing — whether in their current role or another place within your organization — enables deeper levels of trust and engagement.

Training and development opportunities are key engagement strategies. With the shift to hybrid and remote work, many job roles have changed. This is an optimal time to explore the skills and knowledge employees have now and what they need moving forward.

For some, it may make sense to pursue opportunities outside of their current roles and departments but within the same institution. But this is still relatively uncommon. A 2022 Gartner survey of 3,000 job candidates found that only 33% of them sought out a new role within their organization over the prior 12 months.

Asking employees the following questions and listening carefully to their responses may help you better understand what it would take to keep them:

  • What talents are not being used in your current role?
  • What would you like to learn here?
  • What keeps you working here?

Redefining collaboration

Collaborative work has always been a hallmark of successful reams. But the advent of widespread remote and hybrid workplaces has changed what that looks like. More experienced employees have had to make a shift from in-person settings, while early-career individuals have little or none of that background.

Managers can support teams in recognizing different styles and comfort levels of employees and coordinating consistent practices. Questions to consider:

  • How are decisions made and communicated on the team?
  • Do team members prefer to process new ideas in a group or first take time to explore them alone?
  • In a hybrid work setting, what are the expectations of collaborating with one another?

Certain collaboration practices may change, especially with the arrival of new team members or organizational shifts. Keeping the dialogue open about evolving team dynamics and their impact on business practices can benefit team and individual engagement.

Evolving engagement

Just as you wouldn’t create a one-size-fits all experience for your customer, your ever-evolving engagement solutions for employees must continue well beyond onboarding. Activities should be developed for every stage of the employee experience.

Employees join organizations and departments with different backgrounds and skillsets that affect their experience and thus their employee engagement.

Consider adding “stay interviews” outside of performance reviews to check in with employees about their needs throughout their tenure. These conversations are opportunities to learn about what motivates them and can help build trust.

Organize opportunities for your employees to meet and connect with colleagues outside of their team to foster connections and learning. Think beyond the supervisor-employee relationship and explore peer-to-peer mentoring.

As you reflect on your employee engagement strategies, consider a customized approach incorporating onboarding, employee development and team dynamics. Whether your employees are remote, hybrid, or returning in-person fulltime, these tactics can make a big difference with retention in your workforce.

Ready to become an employer of choice?

Becoming an employer of choice improves your marketplace reputation, delivers multiple candidates for each job, reduces turnover and enhances a positive culture. Wipfli consultants can help you attain and maintain that standing, using a strategic and relationship-based approach that enables leadership to consider talent in a more comprehensive manner. We factor in your unique challenges, culture and business cycles. Wipfli assists with recruitment and selection, compensation, talent assessment, succession management and more. 

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Jane Welch, SHRM-CP
Consultant II
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