Why Retaining Talent Should be a Top Priority

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With the current unemployment rate around 3.7%, it is more important now than ever to retain talent. You work hard to find the right candidates, interview, onboard, and train new hires, so why would you want to constantly be putting in this amount of work repeatedly for a single position? Today, I make the case for why it is critical to retain talent for economic reasons and company reputation reasons.

Economics

Investing in and growing existing talent is far more economical compared to the time and cost it takes to recruit, hire, and bring newbies up to speed. After all, the existing talent has already been invested in with time, money, skill development, knowledge transfer, etc. When that person leaves, that investment is lost.

Employee turnover costs way more than many businesses and HR leaders realize because of hidden cost variables. Those include recruitment advertising expenses, lost productivity due to hours of application review and interviewing time, and new hire training and onboarding time.

There could also be a trickle-down effect. If someone leaves for a higher paying job, that could cause remaining staff (who are still friends with that ex-employee) to consider interviewing for their own higher paying job elsewhere. 

Additionally, with new hires, there is a drop off in the level of service and productivity since they are still new to the company and do not have the requisite knowledge and training yet to be as effective as their predecessor. This drop off in knowledge and service impacts customer satisfaction, sales, and total team output.

Company Reputation & Brand

The best companies all share one common understanding that makes their culture great: their employees are their most powerful brand promoters. Employees are the “public face” of their company to their friends, social networks, family, alumni groups, etc. Happy and engaged employees will spread the word about how proud they are to work there. They will refer other top talent to join their team. They are more likely to give glowing reviews of their company.

If there is no focus on retaining and growing that talent, then they will gladly move on and be somebody else’s brand promoter. This not only causes a loss of that singular talent, but it also can negatively impact morale of the remaining workforce, who in turn may become less engaged and less likely to put extra effort into being good brand ambassadors for the company.

Strategies to Help Retain Employees

Previously in my HR career, I managed hiring strategies and partnered closely with leadership to make the process repeatable and successful. What I’ve learned is you need to:  

Cast a very wide recruiting net! My previous company typically recruited high school and college students to fill seasonal openings each year. This was very challenging due to their availability and other factors. When we began posting openings online and at local workforce centers, the response rate and applicant volume increased significantly. This allowed us to be more selective in who was hired to ensure the we had the best of the best in that crop of candidates. 

Create a sense of community! Many companies view seasonal employees simply as expendable, short-term assets. Instead, show seasonal employees that they are truly valued by getting to know them, talking with them, sending birthday cards, inviting them to staff parties, and showing them the same level of respect that you give to the rest of your workforce. By doing this, those seasonal employees will want to return the following season and work for you. This means fewer vacant positions to fill and less training of new workers each season. 

Do your research! Every season be sure you know what your competition is offering for wages, benefits, perks, and other compensatory factors for seasonal employees. This will ensure you remain competitive and will help strengthen your company’s reputation. Seasonal employees talk to each other as well as to people in their networks, social groups, families, etc. They will know which companies pay more and offer more benefits. Be that company. 

Consider your turnover rate. With the short nature of seasonal jobs, many companies might not give turnover statistics much thought. This is a mistake as seasonal employees are less loyal than your permanent employees and can often leave mid-season. Staying on top of the what and why as it relates to turnover can help you adapt to improve seasonal employee retention.

With these strategies, your company should be on track to retain top talent — whether that talent is seasonal or permanent. A company that invests in its employees will always see success in keeping talent.

Topics: Talent Nurturing

Updated November 19, 2018