Employee Retention

Happy or Not, U.S. Employees Are Restless. Use These 3 Tactics to Keep Them.

Happy or Not, U.S. Employees Are Restless. Use These 3 Tactics to Keep Them.
Image credit: T.J. Lentz | Flickr

An estimated 192 million employees worldwide will leave their jobs in 2018. That’s 49 million more employees than those who left their current employers in 2012. In the U.S., this kind of job migration occurs not because employees hate their jobs or don’t make a living wage -- but simply because it’s an option.

Employer branding and research company Universum recently released its 2016 Global Workforce Happiness Index and, among other insights, it has one big one for U.S. business leaders: Our employees are restless. That is to say, employees are satisfied at their jobs, but they’re also open to leaving.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Your Best Employees Leave for New Opportunities

In short, even relatively happy U.S. employees are likely to leave if the right opportunity comes along. This is a problem that many leaders can’t afford to ignore, especially considering the average cost of job-training programs in the States exceeds $1,000 per employee.

Below are some key insights from Universum’s report, which can help you better understand your retention rates -- and what to watch out for in terms of attrition.

1. Watch your competitors.

In general, this is an often-recommended business strategy. In terms of restless employees, however, it’s downright vital. Within the last year, 28 percent of employees in the U.S. and Canada contemplated leaving their current employer for a competitor’s team. Obviously, this would be bad for your company in multiple ways, not the least of which is your competition gaining an employee who knows all of your business’s goals and strategies.

One of the best ways to make sure your employees don’t become enticed by talent poaching is to step up your internal incentives, without outwardly promoting them. Make sure your employee initiatives, benefits plans and company perks are top-notch -- but don’t advertise all of them on your website or social pages. While it’s tempting to use all of our benefits to reach new talent, it also makes you easy to copy, which is the first thing your competitors will try to do if they’re trying to reach your teams.

Related: The Best Employees Stay With Companies That Help Them to Get Better

2. If you’re in the tech industry, be extra aware.

While half of all U.S. employees are sure they could find a new, equal-paying job within six months, tech employees are confident they could find a better job in half that time. This means tech leaders need to be adamant about finding data-driven ways to assess employee engagement and happiness so they can pay more attention to high-potential yet restless employees.

As the report clarifies: “This is not to say that only those [employee] segments deserve attention, but rather that certain subsets of your organization require extra attention due to their importance to your organization’s ability to innovate and grow.”

While such considerations are important for any industry, it appears they are even more so in the tech field.

3. Separate attraction from retention.

Based on the information given in the 2016 Global Workforce Happiness Index, if there’s one single thing you do to retain employees, knowing how to separate your attraction drivers from your retention drivers is it.

According to research from Towers Watson, many employees are attracted to an organization by job security and salary. However, these benefits become less motivating for employees as they join your team and begin to think about leadership roles and opportunities for growth.

Therefore, we can’t continue to rely on the incentives that attracted talent to continue fueling their engagement with our organizations. Analyzing and understanding the drivers behind attraction and retention can help you make future decisions about managing employee engagement and turn restless employees into engaged team members once again.

In general, though, I’ve always believed that offering employees a life at their career, rather than a career separate from life, is a good strategy.

The 2016 Global Workforce Happiness Index can be downloaded here

Related: 4 Ways to Entice Departing Talent to Return