I’ve worked in the staffing space for 32 years now. In that time, I’ve seen and experienced countless changes — from the days of paper-based staffing processes (who remembers roller carts and trips to the storage unit?), strictly phone-based recruiting, the crazy job-title inflation epidemic of the late ’90s to the rise of software platforms, over-the-top employee perks, and artificial intelligence in recruitment.
Despite our industry’s continual evolution, there are certain laws, if you will, of attraction and retention that stand the test of time. What everyone should understand is the things that attract people to jobs aren’t the things that ultimately keep them around; the head and the heart play very different roles over time, and both elements must be addressed in order to optimize retention.
Creating an employment experience that attracts and retains quality employees requires the following elements:
Have a two-part pay strategy. It’s no secret that wages play an important role in attracting candidates, but we can’t forget their role in retention. Even if you’re advertising the highest-paying gig in town, employees still expect wage increases; if they don’t receive them, they’ll leave. Among other things, employees perceive wage raises as validation that they are valued team members. This is why it’s our recommendation to offer starting pay that falls between the 50th and 75th percentile of all competing opportunities and implement a pay progression strategy. Employees need to know when and how they can progress financially.
Provide a strong start. Our data show up to 40% of turnover can occur in the first 30 days of employment. We have found that by designing and executing a high-touch welcoming and onboarding process, we mitigate the risks of new employees falling through the cracks, feeling lost or unwelcome, or leaving their assignments too early. Giving employees a strong start strengthens the employment bond from day one.
Focus on inclusion. We’ve studied more than 12,500 associates working at more than 150 client sites, and the feedback collected reveals inclusion is a significant stay factor. It also supports the concept that happier, engaged people stay at their jobs longer; in other words, retention improves with engagement. We increase employee engagement, job satisfaction, and retention by working with our clients to create an environment where temporary workers feel included; it’s the simple things like a proper orientation and inclusion in team meetings that make a difference. As much as possible, we avoid practices that create disparity between groups of employees.
Build social connections. It’s a fact that when people feel a sense of community and belonging, they have an emotional tie or bond that can be stronger or more powerful than money or perks. This notion backs the importance of building a hiring referral system — people naturally want to work with friends, and popular research has shown having a best friend at work increases performance and retention.
Maintain a positive reputation. I’ve come to learn that reputation is like diet and physical fitness: It requires intention, discipline and tough choices every single day. And it is much harder to create a great reputation than to develop a bad one. A good reputation has a positive connection to recruitment, retention, productivity, quality and collaboration. In fact, according to CR Magazine, a strong employer brand leads to 50% more qualified applicants. Your reputation is so important, you must stay on top of it by understanding how you are perceived and what people say about you, and take steps to engage with those audiences, understand them, and demonstrate you’re listening and willing to evolve.
So how do you ensure you are consistently maximizing your recruiting and retention efforts? Evaluate your own performance on a periodic basis according to these five principles. Self-assessment is the first step toward change and the journey to creating a workforce that works. Make it a priority to assess progress, discuss challenges, and set new strategies. After all, if you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.