The Great Resignation has put a spotlight on the increasing pressure on HR departments to stem the outflow of employees leaving for other opportunities. Yet there's a solution that many HR professionals haven't leveraged to its fullest: smart technology provided by a wave of mostly new companies that have created software and other methods for keeping employees on board.
Here are 10 strategies in which technology can help with retention while providing a more positive employee experience:
1. Hire the Right People from the Start
The better the fit between a company and a new hire in terms of culture, expectations and room for advancement, among other factors, the higher the retention rate. Findem, a technology company in Redwood City, Calif., uses artificial intelligence in recruiting to help its clients replace keyword/Boolean-based resume searches with what it refers to as "attributes-based" candidate searches.
Findem's founder Hari Kolam provides an illustration. Let's say you want to identify someone who has the quality of loyalty, which you know will improve the chances that person will stay. "Findem looks for patterns in the candidate's resume, such as have they been employed for a long tenure or, if they switch jobs, do others from the company follow them?" Kolam said. "Or, if you want someone who can build a diverse team, you would look at who is under them at their [current] organization."
Other companies making progress in technology-based recruiting are Sprockets, which is based on the idea that new hires should match the top performers at the company to help retention; LinkedInRecruiter and ZipRecruiter, which automate the matching of job openings with resumes; and TestGorilla and Toggl Hire, which use skills testing to screen candidates.
2. Offer Pay That Is Competitive and Fair
Pay transparency applies to improving employee retention. "It's about trust and transparency, and transparency includes salary," said Ronni Zehavi, CEO of HiBob, a people management platform based in Tel Aviv, Israel. "Employees want to know everything that might affect or impact them, or you lose their trust. Companies that understand that will attract the right people and retain them," Zehavi said.
Administering pay in a timely and efficient way, which may include offering pay the day it's earned to hourly employees, is a benefit offered by such providers as Workday, Paycom and Paychex.
3. Improve the Onboarding Experience
Another factor impacting retention is the new hire's onboarding experience, since a strong onboarding effort can improve employee retention by 82 percent, Gallup reports.
"Employees who had a great onboarding experience are more likely to be satisfied with their workplace and, subsequently, far more likely to stay put," said Lisa Steingold at Whale, an online knowledge-sharing tool.
EMP Trust HR, a Maryland-based firm, is an example of a company that offers onboarding software designed to make it easier for new employees to sign documents digitally and safely and get acquainted with company polices.
4. Assess Worker Satisfaction and Feedback
"We recommend our clients measure employee turnover during the first 90 days," said Laurence J. Stybel, Ed.D., co-founder of Stybel Peabody Associates in Boston. "The standard turnover rate is 30 percent, so focus on those departments where turnover is significantly less than 30 percent. Who are the supervisors? What is their approach to employee retention and communications? They might serve as role models for the rest of your company," he said. "In this way, you are using data collection to identify positive things you want the corporate culture to have."
Knowing how workers feel about their jobs and the company is key information when trying to improve retention, and technology can play a big role, said Ann Zaslow-Rethaber, president of International Search Consultants in Austin, Texas. Technology can effectively replace the suggestion box by sending out anonymous polls or surveys on platforms such as Survey Monkey, she said.
"Companies need to make sure they have an open conduit to employee's pulse points. In the current war for top talent, consistently querying your employees can be an effective way to stem attrition," Zaslow-Rethaber explained. "Ask what types of benefits they would find of most value and learn what types of issues can bear improvement before those issues are included in a resignation letter."
In addition to Survey Monkey (now known as Momentive), other feedback technology providers include CultureAmp, TINYpulse, WorkTango, Quantum Workplace and Speakup.
5. Foster Stronger Connections at Work
Solid relationships at work, including friendship, increases worker satisfaction, productivity and retention. The technology to help enhance workplace relationships are tools your company may already be using, such as LinkedIn and Slack. Encouraging employees to connect professionally through LinkedIn or Slack is a way they can learn more about each other. Technology like Selflessly can also help HR create volunteer activities that can encourage collaboration as well as friendships.
6. Recognize and Reward Employees
Everyone wants to feel appreciated. Orases, a custom software firm based in Maryland, created the Rockstar Appreciation App that it uses with its own employees. Orases President Nick Damoulakis said, "In Slack, we can nominate or appreciate someone at our company for something that they were helpful with or exemplified our values. At the end of the month, the Bot sends out an auto e-mail with everyone's name in it followed by all the great nominations and appreciations for those people."
Motivosity, Bucketlist and Achievers are a few of the many employee recognition and reward software programs that are creating new ways to recognize contributors.
7. Foster Better Feedback from Managers
The consensus is that an annual, semi-annual or even quarterly performance review is not enough for most employees to feel engaged at their companies. Fortunately, there is technology to help set up reminders so those feedback sessions happen more often. For example, Betterworks helps clients make the manager-employee performance review more efficient. "If employees feel that their boss cares and is invested, you can keep employees retained," said Jamie Aitken, a vice president at Betterworks in Toronto.
Technology providers such as Lattice, Intranet Connections, Microsoft Teams and Jostle encourage regular interaction between employees and managers. "Employees want feedback and coaching. They want to hear that they're doing a good job when they meet the mark, and they want to be coached up to meet expectations when they're not," said Michael Sonbert, founder and CEO of Rebel Culture in New York.
8. Make Flexible Work Solutions Workable
Flexibility is critical to improve employee retention, especially for workers who are parenting school-age children or caring for aging parents. Although more companies are returning to in-office work, those that offer remote and hybrid work have technology options to make it more efficient.
Nearly every employer has leveraged Zoom for remote meetings, but if some workers are in the office, Meeting Owl Pro can combine the two. Other technology helping remote teams to stay more engaged include OnBoard, Teamflow and Bluescape.
9. Offer Professional Development
Knowing there are ways to improve and advance at their current company boosts employee retention, research shows. Such professional development technology is provided by Ten Thousand Coffees, which helps companies organize Early in Career and Mentorship Programs, Fuel50, edX, BetterUp (for coaching) and Phenom.
Explained Jess Elmquist, CHRO at Phenom, "We use our own intelligent talent experience technology. It helps employees plan their individual career paths and HR align those career paths with business goals."
10. Foster Work/Life Balance
Organizations that encourage work/life balance are finding they can slow the Great Resignation, said Melina Palmer, author of What Your Employees Need and Can't Tell You (Mango, 2022). One way to keep employees from leaving is to help them "have such a positive experience at work, they never seriously consider leaving."
A benefit some employers extend are paid wellness days (or longer) in addition to vacation. At HiBob, the business closes for three days after the end of each quarter. "No e-mail, no fax, no work messages. [Employees] disconnect and charge their batteries. No [work] noise. They spend time with friends and family," Zehavi said.
Jan Yager, Ph.D., is a sociologist, coach and adjunct associate college professor in Stamford, Conn., whose 50-plus award-winning books, translated into 35 languages, include Productive Relationships (Hannacroix Creek Books, 2010), Who's That Sitting at My Desk? (Hannacroix Creek Books, 2004) and Help Yourself Now (Allworth, 2021). For more information, visit https://www.drjanyager.com.