The struggle to retain employees is real. With turnover at an all-time high, managers and human resource professionals are working hard to attract top talent, keep them engaged and maintain a track for development and growth.
Such strategies tend to result in multiple moving parts that HR is hard-pressed to keep an eye on. But today's tech enables businesses to closely monitor candidates and employees throughout the employee cycle — from recruitment to retirement — and could be the key to reducing attrition and attracting the best talent possible.
"Ten years ago, if someone were to have told a group of HR professional that they needed to be checking in on employees every day, that direction probably would have been met with blank stares and maybe, even, panic," Natalie Baumgartner, chief workforce scientist at Achievers, told HR Dive in an email. "But today, with the power of data, we know that we can (and should) be checking in on employees every day"
Keeping a closer eye on candidates...
Information from Hireology sent to HR Dive noted that the tight applicant market has made it mission-critical for employers to stay in close communication with applicants. Responding to applicants no later than 72 hours from initial contact avoids losing the opportunity to schedule an interview, Hireology research noted. For this reason, texting with candidates may be a smart option. Their internal information suggested texting applicants reduces time-to-hire by a full 8 days while increasing interview completion rate by 20%.
"Recruiters should keep lines of communication open by staying in touch and laying out the hiring process and timeline," Brett Good, senior district president for Robert Half, told HR Dive. Even if the candidate doesn't get the job, recruiters can maintain good relations with them in case a position opens up down the road. "Many companies use technology to automate recruitment and retention efforts," he added, "but checking in via phone or in-person goes a long way. Face-to-face interaction can be more impactful than data alone."
To better keep up and better engage with applicants, recruiters need to "over-communicate their expectations and next steps," Kim Dawson, director of employee experience at YouEarnedIt, wrote in an email to HR Dive. "The recruiting and interviewing processes are far from one-way streets – candidates are interviewing your company just as much as your hiring team is interviewing the candidates." An employer must communicate effectively and in a timely manner to assure job seekers understand the entire process. Doing so may help reduce candidate ghosting.
…on new hires...
But keeping a closer eye can't stop once someone is hired on. After that, a recruiter can stay in contact with the new hire and the manager, especially during onboarding, to make sure "all parties are happy," Good said. Robert Half's data suggests company culture plays a strong role in recruitment and retention.
Similarly, Dawson said, that two-way street communication should continue especially once an applicant becomes an employee. She suggested continuing the over-communication model, giving employers the opportunity to voice their feedback, questions and opinions on a continual basis. "These were the tactics that created strong engagement during the interviewing process," she adds, "and will continue to maintain it throughout the employees' experiences with their employers."
…and on existing employees
A key job of organization leaders is to check in regularly with their teams to make sure everything is moving smoothly and make adjustments when necessary, Good said; "Once disengagement starts, turnover can rapidly follow." The frequency of checking in with staff can vary depending on the relationship between the manager and employee.
While daily check-ins might not be needed, businesses should move to a culture of continuous, real-time feedback, Dawson said. "Continuous feedback shows employees that their employers are not just committed and invested to their growth," she wrote, "but also to constantly working to improve the connection, meaning impact, and appreciation within the organization."
The role of data and rewards programs
Good noted that career path conversations with employees can help with retention. "Workers need to know where their careers are headed so they see a reason to stay," he said. Professional development training programs can be an effective retention tool because they allow employees to improve their skills and prepare them for positions of greater responsibility.
Company surveys can be a great way to transition to a continuous feedback culture, Dawson said. "Giving employees more ways to participate in feedback programs is a powerful way to keep them engaged with the company," she said. "This allows you to regularly check in on your employees and provide them with a trusted channel to provide continuous feedback, but not burden them with constant check-in and evaluation emails." She believes when organizations make continuous feedback part of their culture, they stay ahead of the game in terms of improving the overall employee experience and the proven business benefits that follow. This strategy only works if an employer actually acts on said surveys, however.
Good said regular check-ins between employees and managers can be helpful for identifying and addressing issues: "It also gives managers a chance to recognize or praise employees' work."
Another critical aspect of employee engagement is regular benchmarking of compensation and benefits to ensure the company stays competitive. Feeling fairly compensated plays a big role in overall job satisfaction, and managers should be fully informed to have honest conversations with their team members.
Many businesses are beginning to mine the internal and external data they hold to keep an eye on workers. Determining who's accessing training and development, who may be overdue for promotion, and other data can help HR and L&D keep an eye on employees who may be at risk for flight.
"Technology and data are key to helping HR and management keep a closer eye on talent, all the way from recruitment through retirement," Dawson said. People analytics harnessed through a recognition and rewards platform can help managers and HR look at how an employee is being recognized by his or her team members in real time, she said. Managers can use that data to provide positive reinforcement to their employees on a regular, ongoing basis, while also making their regular check-ins and performance reviews more impactful.