Article main image
Mar 1, 2023

Last September, Forbes published an article that not only grabbed my attention but really ought to grab the attention of talent managers everywhere.

The title was the tip-off: 15 Effective Employee Retention Strategies in 2023.

OK, you can find a lot of these kind of articles all over the Internet; and they all have a similar formula – listing a number of “top tips” (anywhere from 3 to 50) for how to solve some pressing workplace people problem.

But two things made this article different:

Firstly, it was originally published in September 2022 — nearly four months before 2023.

It’s rare to see predictions for the New Year that far in advance. Most forecasts focused around the year ahead don’t normally get published until December or January. This is normally for the simple reason that a lot can happen in four months, stuff that can make a prediction in September look silly or short-sighted that far ahead.
Secondly, it had some forecasts that actually made sense.

Believe me when I say that this is not always the case. Most forecasts for the year to come simply just miss the boat.

They tend to lack the specifics that would actually make their predictions useful. It’s like reading the predictions of Nostradamus from the 16th Century and trying to show how they are able to forecast life in 2023.

 Three key insights for building better retention

In case you missed the article, here are three of the insights Forbes offered up that seemed to be particularly useful in the push for better employee retention:

 Recognize and reward your employees for their work: From Forbes:

“Employees who feel appropriately recognized and rewarded by workplaces are much easier to retain long term, but studies also show those employees will work harder and be more productive. Unfortunately, over 80% of American employees say they don’t feel recognized or rewarded. A report by the Brandon Hall Group found companies that prioritize recognizing their employees multiple times per month are 41% more likely to see increased employee retention and 34% more likely to see increased employee engagement.”

Create a culture that employees want to be part of: From Forbes:

“A 2019 Glassdoor study found that a company’s culture matters significantly not only to employees who are considering a job (77% said they would consider a company’s culture), but also to employees staying in their jobs. In fact, nearly two-thirds of employees cited a good company culture as one of the main reasons they elect not to leave.”

Foster growth and offer professional development: From Forbes:

“A great business recognizes how important training is during the onboarding process of an employee, but a business with strong employee retention also recognizes the value of continuing to invest in training and upskilling employees. Up-skilling your employees by investing time and resources and providing them access to additional education and training within their field not only makes them happier and more likely to stay with your company, but also makes your company stronger as a whole.”

Why is all this important now?

The shocking truth is that more than 70% of HR professionals think retention is now the biggest challenge.

We recently asked visitors to our LinkedIn page to weigh in on three critical workplace issues, and the responses gave some additional insight that supports the insights that Forbes focused on.

Issue No. 1:

What is the biggest challenge your organization is facing right now?

* A whopping 71% said talent retention was the most critical organizational challenge

* 13% said the top challenge was Identifying & building skills

* 16% listed a variety of other issues as critical challenges

Issue No. 2:

Do you see a path for career advancement at your organization? (Yes or No)

* Nearly 6 in 10 (57%) said they did NOT feel they had a path to advancement in their organization

* Another 43% said that, yes, they currently felt they had the ability to grow their career

Issue No. 3:

Does your organization provide a supportive and effective way for its employees to learn and develop? (Yes or No)

* More than half of respondents (52%) felt that yes, their organization WAS supportive in helping them learn and develop

* Less than half (48%) said no, they did NOT get support from their company in their ongoing development

Although surveys like this are directional in nature, the direction of responses clearly show that talent retention is a big challenge for the respondents, and that a lack of a clear path to advancement for nearly 60% might be the reason for it. 

Here’s why it is so critically important

Forbes made the same point, and described it like this:

“Employee retention is incredibly important to the operation of a successful business. The strategies we’ve outlined … are not an automatic fix but part of a larger shift toward supporting and caring for employees many companies are not doing enough for. The pandemic has left many workers recognizing the value of their time and energy, so making sure your company is proving you value your workers’ time and energy appropriately is incredibly important.”

One more thing:

Last year the Harvard Business Review wrote about the need to “Reimagine Employee Retention”.

One of the keys to that, it noted, was focusing on career conversations with employees on progression, not promotion.

It was a great insight into the nuts and bolts of the larger strategy needed for better retention, and the article explained the need for “progression, not promotion” like this:

Career conversations today are often rushed, low quality, or even skipped in favor of day-to-day responsibilities. However, career conversations are one of what Gartner refers to as the “moments that matter” if managers want to retain people. The purpose of a high-quality career conversation should be two-fold: to give employees the permission to be curious about where their career could take them and the practical support to make progress.

It’s the phrase “moments that matter” that jumps out, and it’s something that should be at the heart of smart and thoughtful employee retention strategies.

Forbes seems to think that retention is important, as does HBR, the readers who were surveyed on LinkedIn by Fuel50, and all sorts of other media and organizations everywhere.

So it makes for a clear and unmistakable message here in early 2023: That if your organization is not mega-focused on retaining your employees, your organization is going to have ever-growing staffing issues in the months and years to come.

In other words, 2023 is THE year that retention will become a big deal.

It’s time for smart, forward-thinking organizations to prioritize efforts that are going to help retain people – and a clear path to advancement is a great place to start.