From Where We Sit

Winning the war for talent: The key to retaining employees

Jun Cuaresma
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Jun Cuaresma
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Even the most loyal employees, at one point or another, have considered turning in their resignations, anticipating the next job opportunity that comes their way. In fact, high employee turnover rates leave businesses constantly wondering about the factors that make employees quit or at least consider quitting.

A report released by the Philippine Statistics Authority in July showed that during the last quarter of 2020, more than 50 workers for every 1,000 employees voluntarily resigned from their posts.

The pandemic has only hastened the turnover of corporate staff. As quarantine restrictions ease, more businesses now have their eye on gradually bringing back employees to the physical office. This is but a normal knee-jerk reaction post-pandemic, particularly for businesses that need their team on site. However, not all employees are too keen about the idea.

A McKinsey study showed that most employees, or 52 percent of people surveyed, prefer to have a hybrid work arrangement post-pandemic, while not even half of respondents admitted that they want to work fully on site. Interestingly, only 11 percent said they’d rather work remotely. The figures show that while a considerable number of employees want to work from home for at least two days per week, some also cited that a remote setup has brought “difficulty in disconnecting from work, deterioration of their social networks, and weakening of their sense of belonging”.

The challenge in retaining talent

Why do employees quit? There is a myriad of reasons that can push employees to look for new jobs, from the more common ones like career advancement to higher salary. Companies have long tried to underpin and come up with a shortlist of these reasons. While the factors will almost always vary depending on the nature of the business of the employer and the industry within which it specializes, there are some factors similar to most workplaces that make employees want to turn over a new leaf.

With the many factors that make staff quit their jobs, including employee burnout that work-from-home arrangements have triggered, one challenge that talent management and human resources teams now address is retaining talent during the pandemic.

According to people management platform provider Lattice, Employee attrition and employee turnover do not mean the same thing. The first has more to do with the normal lifecycle of the workforce. The factors behind work attrition are those that businesses cannot control, like retirement or the downsizing of a company, the latter one known as unwanted employee attrition. Employee turnover occurs when staff voluntarily resign for other reasons, including a hostile company culture.

The roles of talent management teams

Because employee turnover can be controlled, it can be remedied in a number of ways. One of them is by boosting your organization’s talent management strategies.

The first step is realizing that talent management is not just about finding the right person for the job. Team development events organizer TeamBuilding cites that it goes much deeper and involves retaining talent for the whole duration of their employment. Strategic thinking requires Human Resources (HR) teams to go beyond onboarding, training, and employment appraisal. It means constantly looking for ways to cultivate an improved work culture that will motivate employees, both new and old hires.

Improving company culture

One of the forces behind a high employee turnover is hostile work environment. It’s important that a business cultivate a work culture that will inspire staff. The benefit of improving company culture is two-fold. It can bring down turnover rate and at the same time, spark productivity. Company culture, as described by Business 2 Community, does not only encompass a company’s interaction with staff. It reflects management’s attitude and priorities, as well as its decision-making process.

Effective communication and work integration

The pandemic has been a catalyst for corporate changes. Boosting employee morale during an uncertain time has become more crucial as a talent management tool at this time and this entails keeping communication lines with employees open to assure them that the business is moving forward despite adversity. Companies must be able to reassure that they are relatively stable at an uncertain time. Improved communication will give employees renewed confidence and belongingness in the firm.

Implementing flexible work arrangements

Adopting strategic flexibility will likewise help. This means looking at the challenges and opportunities, specially in considering needs-specific or target hiring. It would also come in handy in deciding matters regarding remote work. Job recruitment firm Monster cites that companies must consider devising blueprints that will adopt flexible setups beneficial for both employer and employees.

Promoting employee safety and welfare

The International Labor Organization mentioned in a 2020 report that a truly effective policy for a safe return to the office should include guidelines based on a human-focused approach that puts into consideration the needs and rights of employees more than the economic repercussions of the pandemic to a business. Promoting employee safety is thus not only an issue that talent acquisition teams or management alone should address. Health and well-being of employees should be a major priority and requirement of a modern workforce.  Any policies on this must consider insights from employees or employee associations and representatives themselves, since what is important, according to Hiring Monster is that their concerns are heard and considered prior to the formulation of any company policy.

Helping students, fresh grads

At our Firm, P&A Grant Thornton, we put a premium, not only in hiring talent that we think will be a great fit to our organization; we also prioritize helping students in terms of professional advancement.

Our Firm’s People and Culture Group currently conducts the Emerge Virtual Camp, a holistic annual internship program that aims to equip accounting students with practical know-how about the profession to prepare them in pursuing public accounting careers. Under the program, interns will undergo a number of hours of training that includes close collaboration with our professional managers and partners. During their internship, students are exposed to the Firm’s four main service lines: Audit and Assurance, Tax Advisory and Compliance, Advisory, and Business Process Solutions.

The war on talent has long started, even before the pandemic struck. It is an ongoing concern that businesses have and continue to address. Having an effective hiring strategy is clearly not enough. Finding and retaining talent requires constant reassessment of talent acquisition and HR frameworks and strategies to prevent high employee turnover.

 

As published in The Manila Times, dated 20 October 2021

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