While last week’s topic looked at recruiting people, this week’s looks at retaining them. Retention of staff, or rather good staff, is critical to the success of any organisation. They are familiar with their job and their role, the culture of the organisation and the social structure of the workplace.
Given that we are in the midst of the “Great Resignation” or “Great Re-evaluation”, the turnover of talent in an organisation is top of mind. Although there are many reasons people may leave an organisation, there is plenty of research that also demonstrates that people leave managers and not organisations.
Employee turnover can be as much about groups as it can be about individuals. Analysis of the turnover rates can provide valuable information about an organisation. It may be a good thing as a new culture or direction is set for the organisation, or it could be a bad thing indicating poor management and leadership. It may also be due to other issues such as pay and conditions, morale etc.
The Great Resignation
This phenomenon has seen a shift from an emphasis on the employer to the employee. It has been suggested that the Great Resignation is a result of people being fed up with being underpaid and overworked. I find this interesting because I would of thought people would be more productive in less time from home work than with all the interruptions of the office. Perhaps that observation is based on having worked from home for the last 20 years though so I am perfectly accustomed to the environment.
Reasons For Turnover
People can leave jobs for many reasons which need to be considered as opposed to jumping to conclusions. They may wish to travel, retire, move interstate, change careers, advance their education, inflexible working hours, salaries and on and on.
One area that can be examined for reasons relating to turnover is Herzberg’s Two Factor Model of Work Motivation In this model, Herzberg considers what he calls the Hygiene Factor and the Motivators for work.
Supervisors, Leaders and Managers
The notes actually preface the heading with the word “unfair”, but I think there are other reasons that people leave organisations and their leaders apart from lack of fairness. The notes do acknowledge however that it is a common observation that people leave their immediate supervisor rather than the organisation. Apparently this is contested by a number of researchers and I have no doubt you would be able to find alternate reasons. The notes cite a study by Goler et. al (2018) about the reason that employees left Facebook only to find that they left because they got no enjoyment from the job, their skills were not utilised or they weren’t gaining the advancement they felt they deserved. I find this quite surprising given the organisation who I would of thought to be more progressive in the area of HR.
Work Family Conflicts
The difficulties in finding suitable childcare in many areas has created situations of conflict for many families. This issue is also arising because of the difference in expectations between organisations and employees as mentioned earlier.  These issues are creating potential for increased turnover in organisations unless they accommodate the flexibility sought by workers. Therefore, there is much negotiation to take place to reach agreement on the best hybrid model to suit both parties.
Unsafe or Unhealthy Work Environment
Patently obvious, although sometimes people have no choice. That said, any opportunity to get a job with a safe environment will be attractive to a person with concerns. OH&S is critical to keeping workers safe.
Apart from safety, there are other types of toxic environments in workplaces. These are also related to management and leadership though and include the practices of bullying and harassment, cultural issues in the organisation and discrimination with gender for example.
This has also been identified as another factor where employees feel that their opportunities for growth and development are being suppressed. They will seek out opportunities where they can realise their potential.
Engagement & Retention
Retention focuses on what has caused turnover and looks at ways of combating the turnover. This may be through increased pay, benefits, increased training or other means. Better arrangements for flexible work might be another possibility, or looking at management and leadership styles. Is there enough autonomy? Is there too much micromanagement in the organisation. Are employees being empowered as individuals?
The notes suggest that employee engagement is a much higher level of relationship between the employee and the organisation. It goes beyond simple satisfaction in the job. It is as much about the psychological situation in the workplace at an emotional level and not just the transaction between organisation and employee at a job level. Pasko, Maellaro and Stodnick (2021, p. 776) characterised the psychological contract as the “individual beliefs in a reciprocal obligation between the individual and the organisation”. Many studies have shown that when there is a breach of this psychological contract, that higher turnover results (Zupan, Mihelic & Aleksic 2018). Zupan, Mihelic and Aleksic (2018) also maintain that being aware of and managing the expectations of employees around psychological contracts is critical to maintaining a workforce.
There is no doubt that there has been a major shift in these areas as a result of Covid. Such events tend to accelerate the natural evolution of business. Still, this presents quite a challenge for organisations as they will simply have to adapt to the situation.
In addition to the above issues, there are a number of other areas where organisations may have to modify their thinking. These areas will include:-
- Work design
- Flexible working arrangements, remote vs hybrid vs in office
- Inclusivity in workplaces where the individual is recognised and treated as one
- Learning and development opportunities
It will be interesting to see how the workplace evolves in the coming years and compare it to the past. I would suggest it will be vastly different as people and organisations re-evaluate what work is all about.References
- Herzberg, F 1976, The managerial choice: To be efficient and to be human, Irwin Professional Publishing, Burr Ridge.
- Pasko, R, Maellaro, R & Stodnick, M 2021, ‘A study of millennials’ preferred work-related attributes and retention’, Employee Relations: The International Journal, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 774-787, DOI:10.1108/ER-05-2020-0224.
- Zupan, N, Mihelič, KK & Aleksić, D 2018, ‘Knowing me is the key: Implications of anticipatory psychological contract for millennials’ retention’, in M Coetzee, IL Potgieter & N Ferreira (eds), Psychology of retention: Theory, research, practice, Springer Nature, Cham, Switzerland.