Talent retention: What businesses can do to keep hold of their employees

It has become clear, especially in the last few months, that we are redefining how we live, play, and most importantly, work. Employees are rejecting the status quo and embracing hybrid working arrangements. A LinkedIn research found that more than one in two (57%) people who are currently looking for a job value flexibility, scoring higher than compensation.

However, are employers ready? Not quite. The same research also reflected how management is cutting back on aspects like employee wellbeing and hybrid working.

How can businesses keep hold of employees?

To calibrate a new normal, there is a need for organisations to rise to the occasion, navigate the changing landscape, and establish a new way to engage with their employees. In the wake of an acute talent and skills shortage in the country, it is more important than ever that organisations understand the importance of what truly makes their employees happy.

The Pursuit of (Workplace) Happiness

A recent competitiveness ranking reported that Australia’s workplace productivity rank dropped more than 20 spots, from 20 to 41. An unproductive workforce can end up costing a business a lot more. Globally, Gallup research estimates that disengaged employees could result in US$7.8 trillion in lost productivity or approximately 11 per cent of the global GDP.

To combat that, Australian organisations are in a race to reimagine what the workplace experience looks like for employees and how to drive engagement. One crucial aspect is understanding what truly matters to employees today. If we’ve learnt anything from the pandemic is that employees want flexibility and policies that allow for that.

Avanade implemented its Alternative Work Week program to ensure employees have flexible work arrangements to manage their personal responsibilities alongside work. Employees do not want to have to choose between personal commitments and being able to participate in the workforce. When provided with the right tools that enable flexibility, employees are more engaged and motivated since they have more control over how their time is managed.

Building Trust and Respect

Employees are now consciously seeking organisations that value their work and offer them the right incentives. If they’re unable to find this, they seek opportunities elsewhere. From an organisational perspective, this could result in a greater loss in revenue and stifle innovation. There is an imperative to reinvent the wheel – from rewarding great work and incentivising employees to encouraging productivity, and consequently earning their trust and respect.

Employees who feel respected are likely to feel more confident and secure in the workplace and thereby also tend to trust their peers and managers. Plus, respect is not confined to the four walls of the workplace, and it extends to their personal lives. To cultivate a culture of trust and respect, Avanade has introduced new initiative and benefits for its employees.

Research has shown that there is positive correlation between flexibility and workplace inclusion. They could be new parents or individuals undergoing fertility treatments, providing care to loved ones or experiencing something as personal as gender transition.

How employers support employees and to give them the space they need can make a difference. As the country faces challenges like an ageing population, employers need to offer provisions for the team to support their loved ones, which is why Avanade has offered its employees with leave for Carer’s Support, Fertility Treatment, and Gender Transition.

Do What Matters

It can be easy to equate employee satisfaction to happiness, when in fact, they can be other factors. While satisfaction is a key determinant of employee retention, understanding how happy they are can make the difference. Between 2021-2022, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated job mobility rates were at its highest in almost a decade.

Amidst the challenging business landscape, firms are finding it hard to retain employees and maintain happiness. While happiness can be intangible and mean something different for each employee, it can generally be equated to experiencing positive outcomes as compared to business success. This includes having a welcoming and collaborative work environment, opportunities to give back to communities and even just socialising with co-workers.

Businesses tend to neglect the happiness quotient in a quest for profits and business growth. Research has shown that happy employees are more likely to have higher productivity.

And while there is no silver bullet to cultivating workplace happiness, organisation can still enable flexibility and choice. This means making room for customisation and unlocking satisfaction at an individual level. For example, Avanade’s ‘My Cultural Day’ empowers employees to celebrate cultural and religious events and festivals by swapping an Australia-gazetted Public Holiday with an occasion that is not recognised as a holiday in Australia.

The imbalance created by work and personal commitments is pronounced across Australian firms and employees are growing more vocal about what matters to them. Motivated and happy employees is fundamental to building business resilience, and eventually, success. At the core of it all, it starts with building a cohesive, inclusive, and supportive workplace.

Rebel Berenyi is the HR Lead at Avanade Australia.