Today, people are your source of innovation. As HR leaders, our role is to attract, retain and motivate our people. And, the companies that get that have the best products, best services and best customer experiences in the world.

Any company can be the next Google or Apple with the right people, culture, and set of HR practices in place

Director of Organization Development at Rogers Communications Geoff Ho, PhD, calls HR “is the secret sauce for innovation”.

“People are increasingly important in our digital information economy. Any company can be the next Google or Apple with the right people, culture, and set of HR practices in place. If you get people right, you’re going to have the best innovation, best technology, and best products.”

If employees are your source of innovation, it’s important to retain them. However, employee turnover is in many industries is high and costly in time, money, and resources. The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) suggests that direct replacement costs can reach as high as 50%-60% of an employee’s annual salary, and total costs associated with turnover ranging from 90% to 200% of annual salary.

We spoke to HR leaders across several industries to uncover their secrets to attracting and retaining people. Here are 7 things innovative companies are doing that you can incorporate into your people strategy:

1. Create multiple ways to listen to their people

Highly successful employers gather feedback from their employees and listen to their ideas. They develop a culture that’s engaging, creative, and highly sought-after. Culture is built on a strong mission, vision, and values that employees have bought into.

These employers also invest in their employees and understand what they want. One way to listen is to ask for feedback through employee engagement surveys, which are critical to understanding your employees’ attitudes at work and how they view your company. Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their companies than their less engaged counterparts. They’re motivated to meet the organization’s goals and objectives and more productive in their jobs.

Common questions on employee engagement surveys include (on a 5-point scale of strongly agree to strongly disagree):

  • This company motivates me to do more than is required in my role
  • I am likely to recommend this company to family or friends as a great place to work
  • I intend to work at this company for at least another two years
  • I have good opportunities for career progression at this company
  • I am confident in this company’s senior leadership team
  • My manager consistently acknowledges me for doing good work
  • I have the authority to take action to meet my customers’ needs
  • How likely are you to leave in the next 3-6 months?

Want to do your own engagement survey? You can download our free employee engagement survey template here

After you’ve gathered the data, it’s time to analyze the results. For people who said they may leave in the next 3-6 months, what are the common reasons? Look for trends in career progression, senior leadership communication, and managers. For instance, if 50% of your employees state that their managers don’t empower them to make decisions, you can set up a manager training program. If employees feel like your senior leadership is not transparent, then have your CEO film a weekly video series or send out a newsletter from the c-suite.

2. Offer the right perks

Perks like free lunch are great, but your people might surprise you with the benefits they care about most. By offering the right perks, you’re saving money on underutilized benefits, and creating a better employee experience.

According to a study by LinkedIn, employees actually care more about healthcare coverage, PTO, and flexibility than other perks. Consider increasing your health and wellness benefits and offering more time off around the holidays. You could also offer remote options, unlimited paid time off, or time-shifting as a policy.

To understand exactly which benefits your employees want, ask them directly for their tradeoffs instead of just assuming – the Qualtrics Employee Benefits Optimizer makes that easy. Consider using the Employee Benefits Optimizer to identify the optimal benefits package for your unique company needs and budget. Launching studies to adjust benefits have historically been costly and time-consuming, but this new solution provides an effortless way to gather data on what really matters to employees, putting them at the center of these critical decisions, and giving you a fast and cost-effective way to KNOW what employee benefits matter most.

Request a demo of the Benefits Optimizer today!

3.   Provide growth & development opportunities

The Qualtrics employee engagement study of 6,000 workers found that two of the top three drivers of retention are having a manager who helps manage their employee’s’ workload and managers that consistently acknowledge their employees for doing good work. In addition, having a manager who helps their employees solve work-related issues is a top driver for job satisfaction. Needless to say, managers play a key part in employee satisfaction.

Samantha Hammock, Chief Learning Officer at American Express, believes that the future of work will value leadership and management skills more than ever. She says American Express is “doubling down and investing in leadership and human skills. Most leadership development only readies a small portion of your population, but we’re focused on scalable leadership development for everyone.”
Employee engagement surveys are a great way to ask for feedback about employees direct managers and senior leadership. From there, you’ll have an understanding of which skills you need to focus on with your managers.

4. Rethinking how to make work better for working parents

Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In states an alarming statistic: “43% of highly qualified women with children are leaving careers or off-ramping for a period of time.” Many of these women don’t return from maternity leave because their companies don’t offer flexible work environments or on-site childcare facilities. The Child Care Aware of America says the average cost of childcare is more than $9,000 per child, and for single parents, this can amount to 37 percent of their household income. Childcare costs are on the rise and unaffordable for many families.

One great example of a company who invests in childcare and sees a return is Patagonia. They’ve operated on-site child development center at our headquarters in Ventura, California, for 33 years, and they’ve seen a 100% of new moms return to work after maternity leave. They even estimate that 91% of their costs are recovered annually, and believe that they’re contributing to “raising the next generation” by providing on-site childcare options.

In addition to on-site childcare, generous paid parental leave is increasingly becoming a critical benefit to attract and retain working parents. Paid parental leave easies the financial burden on families, helps with employee retention, helps attract talent, lowers the infant mortality rate, and longer leave can lower the rate of postpartum depression.

5. Incorporate stay interviews

Companies often perform exit interviews when an employee is leaving, but rarely do they incorporate stay interviews to help with employee retention. A stay interview is a conversation with an employee to help managers understand what’s important to the employee. It should be an individual conversation with an employee and their manager. Common questions include:

  • Which aspects of your job make you eager to come to work each day? Which aspects do you not look forward to?
  • How well do you believe your talents are being utilized? What skills do you possess that you feel aren’t being utilized?
  • What are you career aspirations? How are we doing in helping you accomplish them here?
  • Have you ever thought about leaving the company? If so, what caused you to consider leaving? Why did you decide to stay?
  • What are the biggest challenges you face? Is there anything you’d like to change about your job? Are there things you would like to change about your team or department

6. Frequently audit compensation

Even if your employees are totally bought into your brand and company values, they still want to be paid a fair and competitive rate. Payscale research found that only one in five employees feel like they’re fairly paid, and this can make or break your company culture. Many employees leave because they get a better offer from another company and it could cost you more to find another employee than it would to give them a pay raise. To make sure you’re paying employees competitively, use 3rd party data to conduct an audit on your compensation and compare what you’re offering to current market rates. If you find your salaries are lower, make a 3-year plan to get them where they need to be. SHRM also says important to close the pay gap between genders and you must correct the cause of the disparity to prevent it from happening again in the future.

7. Encourage a healthy work/life integration

The Qualtrics state of play survey found that being happy with your work/life integration is the #1 driver of job satisfaction. Employees who have a healthy balance feel in control of their lives, are less stressed out, and more motivated at work. Providing comp time after a large project that required an additional workload, or half-days on Fridays during the summer can encourage employees to take time off and recoup their mental energy.

This also includes allowing employees to attend career and professional development conferences and training sessions that get them out of the office, but still engaged with work. Company and team outings also foster team unity and contribute to a greater work-life balance.

Qualtrics can help you find employee experience breakthroughs. If you want data on retaining your own employees, contact us today.

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