It's normal for any business to see a portion of their people change jobs. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the year ending February 2022, about 10% of Australians changed jobs. This was high compared to previous years. The most common reasons for employees leaving were to get a better job, retrenchment, poor work arrangements, seasonal work and family reasons. But job moves could also be for positive reasons, like an internal promotion.
The manufacturing industry saw a steep rise in people leaving their jobs — from 6.2% to 9.4% of their workforce. However, the recent rate remained just below the general average. The transport, postal and warehousing industry also saw increased job mobility, but remained below the average, at 8.1%
What hurts any business is when the turnover rate is higher than average.
It’s costly to keep recruiting.
Productivity falls and workers tire faster when there are too few staff to meet targets.
Teams lose morale when they stop connecting with their co-workers, knowing they’re likely to leave.
The flip side is that a contented workforce has multiple benefits.
When workers are engaged at work, they:
Most importantly, they stay.
Satisfied workers help to build a positive workplace culture. And satisfied workers don’t think about leaving.
Nailing down the secrets of what makes your workers happy and unhappy at work is key to retaining staff.
If 30% of Australians would consider another job, and 20% are actively looking, it’s important not to take the workers you have for granted.
Are you aware of what bothers your staff most? That information can help you tweak retainment strategies to be meaningful and effective. To gauge your workforce’s satisfaction barometer, consider incorporating some of the following practices:
talking to popular employees
engagement interviews and exit interviews
taking worker complaints seriously
A 2020 global survey by Deloitte suggested paying attention to ‘turnover red zones’. These are specific categories of employees, for example, Millennials and new employees, who are statistically more likely to leave. Staying connected and meeting the needs of these groups can reduce turnover.
Meeting employee needs is not just about wages. It’s about the whole employee experience.
The employee experience is the lived experience of an employee in their workplace, from the day-to-day tasks and environment to the bigger issues of how systems and policies impact them.
Ten years ago, this was not given much thought, but in today’s job market, employers must consider it to stay competitive. You might be surprised by how highly workers rate the relational factors of their work, like feeling valued by their manager, or having a sense of belonging.
Here’s what the research reveals Australian workers look for:
As interest rates and inflation continue to rise, pay remains a top priority. The more uncertain the times, the more workers prioritise finance and job security. That includes pay equity for minority groups, which is particularly relevant in the male-dominated warehousing, logistics and manufacturing industries, where gender pay gaps still exist.
It’s important for employees to feel that their values align with their employers'.
When workers know how their role contributes to the company’s purpose, they’re less likely to resign. Workers want to feel they can use their skills effectively in their jobs and have a say in how they go about doing it.
Before the pandemic, only one in three workers in the transport, postal and warehousing workforce believed their employers were taking action to improve worker wellbeing. After burnout was recognised during the pandemic, many employers are focusing far more on the mental health and wellbeing of their employees.
Workers want a positive work environment, one in which they are valued, can bring their whole selves to work, and in which they can feel connected to their co-workers.
Consider the following steps to help build a workplace employees want to stay at.
While pay is important, the benefits package must be carefully considered as part of remuneration. According to a survey in August 2022, the top three benefits Australians want are flexible work, retirement investment (superannuation) and health management.
But benefits must be meaningful.
Susan Boylan was a leader in a food market in Ireland. She couldn’t convince workers to take on overtime during peak seasons because additional pay pushed them into a higher tax bracket. An internal survey revealed that the workers most highly valued time at home with their families. So instead of higher pay, the company offered additional time off around employee holidays.
Since benefits carry such weight in staff retention, why not go one step further? Allow workers to choose their benefits package.
Make sure your employees are in the roles best suited to their skills. Employees who know they can do their job well gain a sense of personal achievement and satisfaction from being at work.
Different personalities may need different inputs to be productive. Be aware of workers’ values and preferences. A worker whose priority is to feed their family is likely to stay in a job that provides overtime pay or bonuses, whereas a worker who most values human connection is more likely to stay in a job that nurtures teamwork.
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘People join companies but leave managers.’ In the Deloitte study, survey respondents’ dissatisfaction with leaders was a top reason to look for another job.
Investment in skilled leaders - starting with the top level and cascading through to managers and supervisors - will have a high return in staff retention. Workers want leaders they can trust, who are able to carry out company strategies, and who communicate effectively.
Look for leaders with soft skills, like being able to listen, to manage expectations, and give strength-based feedback. When leaders can clearly communicate how team roles connect to the greater purpose of the business, they show workers that they are valued, and help to retain employees.
Lack of career progress and challenge is a reason workers walk out the door. Workers want opportunities to develop their skills. Sometimes the aim is to be promoted, to be able to earn more, but other times it can simply be about job fulfillment. Either way, career growth prospects keep workers engaged, boost work standards and strengthen workforce resilience. Grow a culture of learning and development.
A workplace that welcomes diversity creates a positive work environment, which in turn strengthens employee commitment to the company. True inclusivity needs participation from the CEO and senior leaders to raise awareness, build policy and invest in related training. In warehousing, logistics and manufacturing industries, steps to meaningfully include women and establish gender equality should not be token gestures, but should meet the needs of both men and women. For example:
In proposals to external clients, promote the advantage of your gender-diverse team
Manage complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination effectively
Ensure that men, as well as women, can take advantage of benefits like flexible arrangements for childcare.
Several factors influence a worker’s decision to stay or go. Making sure that your employees are satisfied requires an understanding of why they would stay or leave. Pay is an important factor, especially in uncertain times, but to remain an employer of choice, the whole employee experience should be considered. Businesses that avoid high staff turnover are likely to have lower costs, happier workers, and better productivity.