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Tips for Retaining Top Talent

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Steady job growth coupled with a record-low unemployment rate provides a powerful incentive for your most capable and productive employees to shop around for better opportunities — a risk that compounds if they feel they are not being valued or compensated appropriately.

Hiring managers are very aware of the challenge, with nearly half (47 percent) of HR professionals citing employee retention/turnover as their top workforce management challenge for the third year in a row, according to the 2018 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Report.

How do employers ensure they keep their top talent? It’s all about creating a positive experience that begins with recruitment and onboarding, and is maintained through consistent feedback.

Cost of turnover

Given the tight talent landscape, employers would be justified in viewing staff retention strictly through the lens of fiscal responsibility. Turnover is expensive — it costs employers 33 percent of a worker’s annual salary to hire a replacement if that worker leaves. In dollar figures, the replacement cost is $15,000 per person for an employee earning a median salary of $45,000 a year.


Baked into that number are less quantifiable obstacles to efficient business operations, knowledge transfer and workplace morale and productivity.

Keep in touch

Creating a positive employee experience begins even before onboarding, notes Stephanie Elliott, recruiting programs manager for Aerotek. “Studies show that candidates often feel uncertainty and fear between when they accept the offer and the start date. To avoid that, I advise hiring managers to set clear expectations in preparation for their transition to the company and stay in communication.”

Onboarding sets the stage

How do employers ensure a positive onboarding experience?

“First and foremost, successful onboarding serves to establish a relationship that begins with understanding of both what the organization needs and what the employee needs,” notes Dave Poling, executive director of operations for Aerotek. Conversely, a recent survey from Allegis Group among job candidates makes it clear the risk companies run if they fail to maximize the onboarding process:

  • 81 percent would encourage others to apply based on a positive onboarding experience
  • 56 percent would discourage others from applying based on a poor hiring experience
  • 54 percent would consider leaving the company based on a poor onboarding experience

The survey also offers some specific recommendations:

  • Organize and prepare early for the candidate’s first day
  • Make sure IT and office resources are ready for day one
  • Introduce new hires to teammates and key stakeholders
  • Give new hires a tour of the facilities
  • Provide in-depth background on the company and business strategy
  • Continue to provide clear job expectations and meet frequently to address progress

Importance of performance feedback

Employers should build a feedback-rich environment right from the start, Poling adds, “Establish frequent one-on-one time so that performance assessment becomes an ongoing process of improvement.”

“The key is consistency,” he adds. “In order for employees to grow, they need to know what they’re doing well and what needs to improve. And if there is a need to improve, that’s when the employer can address next steps such as ensuring that appropriate support and resources are available.

Committing to a continuous feedback process that includes a well-thought-out annual performance review is crucial. Employees who are satisfied with the performance feedback process are more engaged and committed to the organization, and more likely to be retained, according to a recent Gallup study.

Maintaining employee engagement

Engaged employees are often described as those who are enthusiastic about their work and proactive in promoting the organization’s interests. Research over the last decade has made a convincing case that high employee engagement in the workplace is highly correlated with success in achieving business goals. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that companies with highly engaged employees experience 17 percent higher productivity, 20 percent higher sales, and 21 percent higher profitability, among many other positive metrics.

What’s crucial to maintaining employee engagement is begin by developing meaningful employer-employee relationships,” advises Poling. “Employees want to learn and grow; they want to know they have advancement opportunities based on how well they perform current duties. Are they being valued, are they hitting goals, are they helping the company achieve success?”

“It’s not just about what the employer needs,” says Poling. “The best relationships are win-win.”

Want to learn more about retaining top talent? Contact Aerotek now.