By: Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company
You might think your employees are happy, but a 2015 survey done by recruiting software provider Jobvite found that almost half of all employees — including the satisfied ones — are open to leaving.
“Today’s employee is antsy,” says Jobvite CEO Dan Finnigan. “The post-WWII phenomenon of people working at large companies for their lifetime was a blip in history. Millennials, for example, are expected to hold 15-20 jobs over the course of their careers. And for all age groups, moving up usually means moving on.”
A desire to learn new things, earn more money and prepare for the next downturn are reasons to seek a new employer, and now that the economy is producing jobs again, college-educated, highly skilled workers are in hot demand.
“From here on out, people intuitively know that no company, department or job will offer a career path — you need to build your own,” says Finnigan. “To those people a career path means changing employers.”
Instead of surrendering their best workers, Finnigan says companies should consider the needs of their employees. He suggests doing these 5 things to engage and retain the best talent:
1. Think Like a University
CEOs and HR managers should view their company as if employees are students moving through a system, says Finnigan. The change in mindset can provide long-term benefits.
“Universities know they need to recruit a new class each year because the senior class is graduating,” he says. “Some stay longer but inevitably they all graduate. The most important thing universities provide is education and it’s how they build their reputation. Companies need to adopt that same thinking and consider how they’re contributing to their employees’ professional growth.”
By embracing this attitude, Finnigan says companies will reap benefits if employees leave. Just like university alumni continue to support and recruit for their school, corporate alumni who felt a company was an important part of their career path will recommend the company to colleagues, building their reputation and strengthening their brand.
2. Offer Different Kinds of Career Growth
With a college mindset, it’s important that CEOs and entrepreneurs offer different kinds of learning opportunities to employees. In the Jobvite survey, 35% of people pick companies based on growth.
Finnigan says there are three kinds of opportunities a company can offer. First, identify ways employees can grow within their own occupation: “In digital marketing, for example, spend money to provide employees with new technologies,” says Finnigan. “When they’re trying out new channels, they’ll be learning from analysis.”
Another growth opportunity is through breadth. A smaller company, for example, can give its employees an opportunity to work on projects across departments that expand their overall knowledge. Finally, provide employees with a chance to lead. In a bigger company, this kind of growth is easier to provide, but in small companies leading others in a project is a form of management.
“CEOs need to think through the career paths they’re offering because it’s from that point of view, an employee will choose between jobs,” says Finnigan. “Employees will often stay where there is the potential to learn the most. If you can offer and communicate the importance of growth to existing employees, you can get the reputation of being a great place to work.”
3. Offer Competitive Wages
You can expect your competitors to offer higher salaries to woo your best employees out of your company, and 61% of employees say pay is the single most important reason in deciding to leave their current job, according to the Jobvite survey.
Finnigan urges employers to stay abreast of the local job market: “Make sure you’re not paying them below the 50th percentile for their job description,” he says. “If you want to attract and retain stronger talent, go higher.”
4. Locate Where Your Employees Want to Be
Forty-two percent of employees say location is important to their job happiness, which means companies should consider office space in the places where their target employees want to live. If you are looking to attract millennials, for example, Finnigan says it can help to locate in downtown areas.
“They want to live and work near friends,” he says. Baby boomers also pick jobs based on location, with the emphasis on finding a short commute.
5. Don’t Underestimate Work/Life Balance
Finally, offer employees an option to work from home; 38% of employees consider work/life balance when deciding to stay with a company.
Finnigan says working from home is an attractive consideration for employees, especially if they have jobs that involve an individual contribution instead of regular collaboration with others on a daily basis.
“In the era of wireless and laptops, people can work anywhere on any device,” he says. “And with more and more cars on the roads, not having to commute at all can help you retain your talent.”