Just a generation or two ago, it was the norm for workers embarking upon a career to start a job right after school and stick with it until retirement. Today, however, the situation is vastly different. Employers in almost every industry are struggling with employee retention challenges — and that's not going to change any time soon. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 38.2 million people voluntarily quit their jobs in 2017, and more than three million people have quit each month during 2018 so far. There are a variety of reasons why people quit, but regardless of the reason, job hopping has become the norm. In fact, a survey of over 5,000 millennial professionals found that a quarter have already worked for five or more employers.
But even though a lifetime commitment is no longer a realistic expectation for employers, that doesn't mean you should treat retention as a lost cause. Keeping your staff intact — especially your top performers — is critical for staying competitive in today's economy. But how do you tell the difference between a retention crisis and normal, expected turnover?
Here are four signs you've got a retention problem.
employees are leaving in droves
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it may not always be so obvious — especially since a river of exiting employees often begins as a mere trickle. There are significant business costs to replacing employees, so it’s crucial to stanch the flow as quickly as possible. It’s also key to keep office morale steady when there’s a mass exodus of familiar faces. Our research shows that low compensation, a limited career path and work-life balance issues are the most common reasons employees leave their jobs, so do what you can to find the root of the issue at your organization,
employee tenure is shrinking
Maybe you're not facing a crisis yet, but HR records show you’re hiring more frequently than you used to, and turnover is occurring at a faster rate. If your employees are leaving to take on new roles, that means they were either looking for a new job soon after joining or were successfully poached by another employer. They may have been offered better salary and benefits, a bigger challenge — or they just weren't happy with your organization.
If your employees are leaving without a new role in place, that's a dire sign indeed. Quitting without securing a new job is a sign that they were so unhappy that they were willing to risk their financial stability to escape your organization. And we're all aware that a brief tenure looks questionable on a resume, so consider why your employees are risking having to answer questions about it to prospective employers.
exiting employees are leaving negative reviews online
Take the time to read reviews left by previous employees online. Since 34 percent of job seekers read employer reviews online, these affect candidates' decisions to accept an offer. They may even have a negative impact on your overall brand, as well. And don't just read them — look for common threads, like workplace disorganization, employees feeling unchallenged or salaries that weren't competitive.
These may not be easy fixes, but as the cost of replacing an employee hovers around 21 percent of a specific employee’s actual salary, you want your retention rates to stay as high as possible.
top-performing employees are among those jumping ship
It’s reasonable to assume that your top-performing employees should be the easiest to retain, right? After all, they're engaged and delivering consistently solid work. But if they're not being compensated appropriately or feeling unchallenged, they may look for an exit.
This is where exit interviews become especially crucial. Ask your departing stars why they're leaving and what you could have done to retain them. Then, make a checklist of where the company is falling short: Is there a clear path for advancement for everyone? Is performance being adequately rewarded, especially in contrast to less productive employees? Perhaps the most important, do they feel valued by the company? Remember: loyalty goes both ways.
don't just observe — take action
Employee turnover is a fact of the modern business world, but if you keep a watchful eye on the signs that employee retention has become a problem and implement a plan to combat it, it can turn into just another manageable facet of business operations. So once you’ve identified where the trouble is coming from, it’s time to figure out how to fight it.