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5 strategies for retaining talent in 2023

Retaining talent has become a lot harder in the last few years. From “The Great Resignation” to “Quiet Quitting” and large-scale layoffs, employee retention has been on a rollercoaster since 2020. Some say the next workforce era is “The Great Retention,” a time when companies will focus on keeping their top talent engaged and lowering employee turnover.

While workers cite a variety of reasons for leaving their jobs, including toxic work environments, desire for better work-life balance, and lack of advancement opportunities, one thing is clear: Employers need a better way to develop and retain talent or they risk turnover. Today’s workers are looking for more than just reasonable compensation and benefits—they want to work for a company that prioritizes their well-being and invests in their career growth.

In 2023, companies must foster a culture of inclusivity and demonstrate growth opportunities to retain talent.

5 strategies for retaining talent in 2023

1. Hire talent inclusively

Retaining talent starts as early as the recruitment stage. Keep in mind that finding candidates is more than just a skill match; it’s also important to find someone who believes in the company’s values and mission. An employee who supports the company mission is 54% more likely to stay longer than 5 years and the longer an employee stays, the more they’re able to contribute. Happy employees make wonderful ambassadors, which can help your employer brand and future recruiting efforts.

The first step to finding the right candidate is posting a thoughtfully worded job description that helps your company attract candidates to your culture. Use inclusive language and eliminate jargon and biased phrases to attract candidates who also value inclusion.

To broaden your pipeline, it’s also crucial to proactively source candidates from underrepresented groups. This may include being active in Slack communities, looking at specialized directories, or searching LinkedIn for identifiers such as hashtags or membership in specific organizations.

Inclusive hiring also involves structured interviews that ask the same set of behavioral and situational questions to each candidate. Avoid focusing on a culture fit, which can result in a homogeneous workforce, and look for values alignment instead.

4 ways to minimize bias in your interview process:

  • Make the process transparent. Explain how you will spend the time and provide details about next steps.
  • Use a consistent set of questions and evaluate in a structured way against the criteria in the job description.
  • Create resources that show candidates how your process works and how to succeed.
  • Have candidates complete a work sample to see how they approach the actual job.

It’s also necessary to be transparent with candidates when you identify a gap between a person’s strengths and interests and the realities of the job. For example, a candidate may prefer working on consumer products, but the job will be for the B2B unit. There may be tactical realities to share, like that the team they’d be joining spans multiple time zones and often has meetings at a late (or early) hour.

Retaining talent requires honesty about where the company or job may not be a perfect match. Otherwise, a new hire may move on quickly.

2. Provide equitable access to feedback

Everyone deserves thoughtful and actionable professional feedback. Employees who receive high-quality feedback feel more engaged and grow faster. However, not all employees receive the same kind of feedback. Textio's recent report reveals extreme inequities in job performance feedback across gender, age, and race. This includes non-actionable feedback such as comments about personality and characteristics. When people consistently receive low-quality feedback, it stalls their opportunity to advance in their careers.

So, what can your company do to ensure you're providing equitable feedback?

  • Understand where feedback disparities are taking place across your organization.
  • Coach managers and leaders on the places where bias and inequity commonly show up in performance feedback.
  • Make sure your performance management process ensures equitable access for all employees by setting up a regular cadence for feedback.
  • Offer structured feedback that is specific, actionable, and focused on work rather than fixed characteristics and personality. Textio Lift empowers managers with real-time writing guidance for fair, effective performance management.

To do this, build a culture where employees get feedback multiple times a year using fair and equitable practices. This is especially important in the first 90 days to demonstrate your commitment and give them the tools they need to grow.

Consistent and equitable feedback needs to be a policy across the company and not left up to individual team managers. Employees should feel comfortable requesting feedback at any time, even off HR’s schedule. Companies who want to retain talent must address the issue of biased feedback before turning to other inequities such as access to career growth, earning potential, and advancement.

Biased feedback is causing attrition

See how performance feedback is affecting retention in 2023

3. Invest in onboarding

From day one, a thoughtful onboarding process demonstrates that you care about setting your employees up for success. For example, a good onboarding experience may include:

  • A 30/60/90 day plan
  • Training and compliance videos
  • Meetings with IT to make sure all equipment and connections work perfectly
  • Meetings with HR to understand where to submit time-off requests, and details of any benefits such as education reimbursement
  • Intro meetings with direct managers and new teammates
  • An onboarding “buddy” who they can go to with questions
  • Information on the company structure and operations
  • Access to a digital directory so they can easily find contact information for colleagues

Some companies are even investing in employees early by paying them to take a vacation before they start. Many people can’t afford to take time off to recharge between jobs. This can lead to faster burnout, so companies are offering this perk to demonstrate their commitment to work/life balance.

Companies reluctant to invest in onboarding due to budget constraints should remember that employee turnover costs are high. Between costs of recruiting, training, loss of productivity, impact on team morale, and loss of historical knowledge, studies estimate that it costs an average of 6 to 9 months’ salary to replace a salaried employee.

4. Focus on employee engagement

Research shows that engaged teams are 17% more productive than other groups. Engagement also leads to lower turnover. So how do you ensure an employee is engaged? There are many ways to engage your employees; what works best will depend on your company’s resources and workers. It’s ideal to approach employee engagement from many angles as what excites one person may not motivate another.

3 ways to improve employee engagement:

  • Prioritize employee well-being. Whether people are leaving jobs due to a poor COVID response, lack of childcare, desire to work remotely, or looking for a better work-life balance, prioritizing employee mental and physical health is key to retaining talent. Analyze your employee benefits and look for new opportunities to support the varied needs of your workforce.

  • Provide meaningful and regular recognition. Recognition is a great way to make employees feel valued. While monetary compensation is nice, raises and promotions likely won’t translate to greater employee retention without providing specific recognition. Celebrate individual and team success both directly and through company communication channels. An employee-to-employee recognition system is an easy way for employees to thank or acknowledge each other publicly. Peer recognition helps people feel valued, which can lead to deeper engagement.

  • Solicit feedback and take action. Feeling supported by management makes a big difference in employee engagement. Continually check in with employees and ask targeted questions like:
    • What are you enjoying (and not enjoying) about your role?
    • What causes the most stress in your day-to-day?
    • What are you most proud of in the last year?
    • What are a few ways we could better support you?

Gauge employee engagement by regularly analyzing data from ESAT (employee satisfaction), 1:1 feedback sessions, and through open access to HR. Talk honestly about what is going well and what isn’t. Then, turn the feedback into action. Show that when your people say something isn’t working, you do something about it. Ask them to collaborate on solutions. This builds trust over time and contributes to whether employees feel heard and valued. When ignored, employees become discouraged and disengaged.

5. Foster a culture of inclusion

It’s important to continually scrutinize your inclusion initiatives to look for opportunities for improvement. Inclusion initiatives will look different from company to company based on their needs. This may include things like improving benefits to better serve a diverse workforce, evaluating how different identity groups are supported, and thinking through how to increase participation in meetings or decisions.

Today, candidates are actively judging a company’s commitment to DEI practices and expect to see a culture of inclusion. If you don’t deliver, they will go somewhere that does. Additionally, companies with inclusive cultures experience 22% lower turnover rates.

Everyone wants to feel like they have the same opportunities to grow at a company. And regardless of what other morale-boosting initiatives you attempt, it’s impossible to retain talent if they don’t feel supported, heard, and valued.

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