July 08, 2024

The Fundamentals of Employee Retention

Aligning Purpose and Expectations

The ability to keep skilled employees is crucial, and employee retention has become a pivotal focus for businesses striving to maintain a competitive edge. If there is ever a time to reorient the interpersonal relationship between employer and employee, it is now. CEOs around the world identify employment and retention as the top of their greatest concerns.  

We at Emerge have achieved an impressive 96% retention rate for the past three years, a testament to our core principles that drive employee satisfaction and loyalty. Our workforce has an average age of 28, which can be a barrier for older leaders to engage young professionals, but we see it as an opportunity to refine what truly matters in retaining talent.

Retention is a broad and complex topic, and it can get very noisy, very fast. However, we believe that the fundamentals of retention are the same as any healthy relationship: Alignment, Expectations, and Evaluation. We also have a unique perspective working across various industries and skill sets, which gives our team a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t in employee retention strategies. Based on our own internal success and what we see with our clients, here’s what we’ve learned and implemented to improve employee retention and maintain high retention rates.

Alignment: Connecting Purpose with Practice

The first step in retaining employees is ensuring that an employee’s personal mission aligns with the company’s mission. Think deeper than job descriptions or duties; alignment in this case means finding a deeper connection between an individual’s sense of purpose and the company’s goals. When employees feel that their work has meaning and contributes to a larger cause, they are far more likely to stay committed.

For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, people reevaluated their priorities and spent more time with loved ones and reflecting on what truly matters. This shift in perspective has made it clear that people now seek more than just a paycheck—they want their work to have purpose and meaning. 

At Emerge, we strive to create roles that not only match our employees’ skill sets but also resonate with their personal values and long-term goals. Similarly, we encourage our Clients to keep this in mind when analyzing their own retention rates, as mission alignment is often overlooked. 

Expectations: Building Transparency and Mutual Support

A common issue in high turnover environments is the lack of clear, transparent expectations. This includes not only setting goals but also providing the necessary support to achieve them. Expectations should be a two-way street, where both the employer and the employee understand what is required and what resources are available to meet those requirements.

The biggest disconnect we observe is when team members feel unsupported or unclear about their roles and goals. This often leads to frustration and eventually, resignation, increasing voluntary turnover and negatively impacting the bottom line. 

To counter the effects of unclear expectations, we emphasize the importance of mutual understanding and continuous support for our team at Emerge. Clear communication about expectations and the provision of employee benefits, tools, and guidance is crucial. Your employees should know not just what is expected of them, but also what they can expect from the company in terms of support and resources.

Evaluation: Fostering Open and Honest Feedback

In life and in business, the best relationships are built on open, honest, and supportive communication. In the workplace, this translates to having a consistent feedback loop where employees feel valued and heard. Regular evaluations and feedback sessions help employees understand their impact on the business and identify areas for improvement.

At Emerge, we have created a workplace culture where feedback is as constructive and continuous as possible. Studies have shown that annual reviews tend to be counterproductive, but a more regular feedback loop—where employees are encouraged to share their thoughts and feel part of the process—is highly effective. This connection fosters a sense of purpose and belonging, which is essential for long-term retention.

The Human Touch: Another Key to Retention

One of the most effective yet often overlooked strategies for retention is simply being human and empathetic—meaning, you should try to understand and accommodate the personal lives of employees. For example, we have found that rigid PTO policies can be counterproductive. Instead of measuring personal time in days, we focus on outcomes and trust our employees to manage their time responsibly.

Because, let’s be honest: life happens, and when it does, employees should feel supported by their employers. Whether it’s maternity or paternity leave, bereavement, or caring for an elder, these situations should be handled with empathy and flexibility. By doing so, we have built a strong sense of loyalty among our workforce at Emerge. When employees feel that their personal lives are respected and valued, they are more likely to stay with the company.

Connect with Emerge

Our team at Emerge believes that by focusing on alignment, expectations, and evaluation, employers can create a work environment that not only attracts and retains talent but also fosters growth, satisfaction, and loyalty.

If you’d like to work with a team of professionals who truly understand employee engagement and retention, let’s chat about how we can deploy recruitment and retention strategies for your organization.

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