Smart employers know that retaining their top talent means making them feel valued and giving them opportunities to advance. You may think you're doing a pretty good job of this, but new research finds that your message may not be getting through to your employees.
According to an Employee Development Survey by talent management solutions provider Saba Software and WorkplaceTrends.com, 60 percent of U.S. and U.K. human resources leaders believe their companies provide employees with a clear career advancement path. Workers, on the other hand, feel differently: Just 36 percent agree that their companies provide an advancement path. Moreover, one-third of those surveyed feel their skills and talents are not being recognized in the workplace, and 41 percent said they would leave their current company for a better opportunity.
So, where is the disconnect between HR and employees? It all comes down to communication. Saba and WorkplaceTrends' research found that HR leaders want to know what inspires and motivates their workforce — and more than 30 percent of employees would be happy to share this information. But HR doesn't seem to be asking their staff the right questions to find out, said Adrienne Whitten, vice president of product marketing at Saba. [8 Secrets to Keeping Employees Happy]
"When we asked HR folks what data they would most like to have on their employees, the No. 1 cited answer was 'what motivates them,'" Whitten told Business News Daily. "This shows that employers are still struggling with the employee engagement challenge. [In other words,] how do you create some kind of loyalty to the company when companies can no longer offer the promise of stability and lifetime employment?"
"Companies need to survey their employees to understand their needs so that they can better serve each one individually and as a group," added Dan Schawbel, founder of WorkplaceTrends.
Whitten and Schawbel said that employers can start gaining the workforce insights they need — and thus, encourage retention — by asking employees some of the following questions:
- What motivates you and keeps you coming to work every day?
- What do you love about your job?
- What are your personal development goals in your current position?
- What type of career support will be most beneficial to you?
- What type of skills do you feel like you're currently lacking?
- How do you learn best and what's the best vehicle we should use in order to support your development?
- What are your personal goals and values?
The mistake that most HR departments make is assuming that managers are having these types of conversations with their employees — and some of them are, Whitten said. But these can be tricky questions to ask, and managers need to be prepared to address the resulting answers.
"If an employee tells you that their personal goal is to have more time to attend their children's events, the manager needs to be prepared with whether they can offer flex time and what the company policies are," Whitten said. "This is where HR can help by partnering more closely with the managers."
While there are many other things employers can and should do to build workforce loyalty — such as offering flexible work options and other great benefits — just initiating conversations about what's important to an employee's personal and professional life is an excellent start.
"We all know the old adage that everyone is replaceable," Whitten said. "Sometimes, simply communicating to your employees that they have individual value to the company will go a long way towards engaging them and instilling loyalty."
The Saba/WorkplaceTrends Employee Development Survey polled 2,000 U.S. and U.K. employees and HR professionals. For more information, visit Saba's website.