Why the Great Retention should be the top talent focus in 2022

23 March 2022 Consultancy.com.au 4 min. read

Australians in all industries will be weighing their options this year and it behoves employers to implement strategies to keep them on the team, writes Matt Seadon, APAC General Manager at Achievers. 

Is your business one of the thousands of local enterprises that’s literally crying out for workers? From farms to factories, restaurants to retail outlets, after two years of closed borders and curtailed migration, the great staff shortage is continuing to bite, and hard.

That’s bad news for businesses with ‘Situations Vacant’. Organisations that can’t capture and retain the workforces they need to keep operating effectively don’t just jeopardise their long term viability. They also stand to miss out on the many growth opportunities the post-pandemic economy is likely to present. 

The Great Retention

Bracing for the Great Resignation

And while Australia is yet to experience in a major way the so-called Great Resignation, which has seen Americans quitting their jobs in droves – a record 4.3 million Americans handed in their notice in August 2021, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics – it may well be coming our way this year.

Certainly, workers in in-demand industries know they’re in the driver’s seat, after years of low wage growth and lacklustre employment conditions. Hence, salaries for digital specialists increased by more than 10 per cent in 2021, while commercial property professionals enjoyed a respectable 3 per cent rise, on average.

Meanwhile, senior specialists in banking, accounting, marketing and construction stand to see their annual salaries jump by as much as $80,000 a year, according to one report. 

Holding on to what you have

Hiring new employees is never a cheap exercise. Add in the onboarding costs and the hit to productivity that inevitably arises when there’s a change of personnel, and you’re looking at big bucks, should your team members decide to join the Great Resignation and move on to greener pastures, en masse. 

That’s why it makes sense to devote considerable resources to what we at Achievers have dubbed ‘the Great Retention’ – keeping the high calibre employees you already have. At a time when other organisations are clamouring for their services, it’s never been more important. 

The power of belonging

Keeping pace with the market on the salary front is a big piece of the puzzle but it’s not the only one. While it’s natural for workers to want to be paid what they’re worth on the open market, competitive salaries, perks and bonuses aren’t the only things that keep your team members turning up and toiling for the man.

Having a sense of belonging at work can have just as much bearing on whether or not employees will stick around long term as the size of their pay packets. 

Greater employee wellbeing and lower turnover rates are associated with organisations where staff experience this feeling of belonging and inclusion, according to a recent Achievers study.

Australian businesses have room to improve on this front. Only 23 per cent of workers experienced a strong sense of belonging at their organisation, according to the study, while just 15 per cent felt their unique backgrounds and identities were acknowledged and valued. 

Drawing your team closer

How can Australian organisations lift their game on this front? There are five pillars of belonging, according to the Achievers Workforce Institute Belonging Model. 

Achievers Workforce Institute Belonging Model

New employees need to be purposefully introduced and welcomed. They need to be known – understood, appreciated and motivated as individuals, not cogs in the system. They need to be included and accepted for who they are, and supported, nurtured and developed to become the best they can be. And they need to be connected in a meaningful way, with co-workers and colleagues within the organisation. 

Boosting motivation and morale can be as simple as upping your weekly quotient of appreciation; giving employees a simple thank you for a job well done or a social media shout-out when they’ve gone an extra mile or several. Do it sincerely, appropriately and regularly and you’re 41 per cent more likely to see an improvement in employee retention.

Recognise and retain top talent

A formal recognition and reward program can provide a framework for leaders to acknowledge their teams regularly, in meaningful, positive ways. In the absence of such an initiative, it’s easy for recognising and rewarding staff to fall by the wayside, despite best intentions.

At a time when employees are not short of options, a recognition program may give you an edge over your opposition when it comes to attracting and retaining top talents. That makes it an investment in business continuity, stability and growth that’s likely to pay for itself in spades.