Best Places to Work: Knowing the Ropes About Retention

Best Places to Work: Knowing the Ropes About Retention

You’ve recruited, interviewed and hired the best people you could find.

Now, how do you keep them?

In the current hybrid work landscape and competitive job market, the traditional package of perks and benefits may not be as attractive in hiring top-notch talent as in the past.

Statistics show that one-third of new employees quit after six months. According to the Jobs Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), 3 to 4.5 million people in the U.S. quit their jobs each month. 

Flexible schedules and compensation/bonus structures are in demand by today’s generation of job seekers, and that will no doubt continue and contribute to retention as well. But what can be done to get a longer-term commitment out of workers that will keep companies from having to fill the same positions every couple of years?

It starts with thinking about the future, both the employee’s future and that of the company.

Going Pro

More than half of this year’s Best Places to Work honorees offer tuition assistance for advanced or post-graduate degrees, professional certifications, work-related courses, workshops and advanced training for people who want to grow within the company.

A survey in the JOLTS research showed that 94% of employees would stay at their job if the company offered some sort of long-term learning. Promoting professional development tells employees that the company cares about them and lets them know they have a long-term role if they so desire.

“The organization suffers when it has people working there who are not trained and developed properly, but the employees are also less likely to stay somewhere that is not willing to invest in them,” said Tanner Hubbard, operations director at Jon Harrison Leadership Training. “When those opportunities do not exist in a workplace, you are essentially telling your workforce, and your potential workforce, that you just want ‘warm bodies.’”

Henderson Engineers, for example, offers bonuses for professional licensure and LEED accreditation and the Baxter Health Foundation provides scholarship opportunities for employees to pursue health care degrees, as well as student loan debt repayment for eligible positions.

“Company loyalty is hard to find. If they don’t see a career pathway or if they don’t see they’re ever going to get the opportunity to compete for that role, they’re going to go somewhere else. Or if they’re bored where they are,” said Michael Brown, founder of the career development firm Insight Leadership Group.

Leadership programs like the ones Brown offers are in demand. State and local chambers of commerce around the country also offer programs like Leadership Arkansas and Leadership Greater Little Rock, which prepare people for roles both in the community and at their job.

Some companies will also help employees to obtain a secondary degree, a master’s in business for example, that would dovetail with the company’s idea of career development. Executive education certificates are big right now, Brown said, and can be earned through virtual classes offered by noteworthy schools. 

“A Wharton or a Harvard, getting that Ivy League name, but it’s a virtual program and still pretty effective,” Brown said. 

Taking a Lead

It isn’t just altruism that makes employers provide professional development opportunities. They want to groom future company leaders and get a long-term commitment as a return on their investment. 

“It’s better to develop people than to go find them,” Brown said. “It’s going to save money. It’s going to be more efficient.”

Taggart Architects pays employees for some continuing education, professional certification fees and licensure testing as well as American Institute-Architects convention registration.

A company might pay to send an employee back to school, to a leadership program or academy or some form of advanced training, but it might require the person to make a longer-term commitment to staying on.

“[They might] go as far to say ‘Hey we’re going to cover the cost for you but you’ve got to sign on so you don’t leave us for X number of years,’ “ Brown said.

Another avenue to retention is providing time and the means to get involved with the community, to serve on nonprofit boards or join civic organizations. It’s an aspect of professional development that allows an employee to take on responsibility while helping a company maintain a positive presence in its community.

“It’s outside,” Brown said. “It’s leveraging a skill set and also it’s just good for that employee and the community to develop those relationships.” 

See more of this year's BEST PLACES TO WORK.
A supplement to Arkansas Business