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Want to Retain Employees? Focus on This One Thing

By Maurie Backman - Apr 19, 2018 at 11:22AM

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In today's workforce, employee loyalty can be hard to come by. Here's how to get your workers to stop jumping ship.

Job-hopping is so common nowadays that most companies expect it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average worker today will hold down 10 different jobs prior to the age of 40. And while moving around a lot can certainly benefit the employees who go this route, it's a trend that can just as easily hurt employers.

For most companies, there's a cost to bringing new hires on board. There's sinking time into the interview process, rolling out training, and facing a decline in productivity as new workers get up to speed. That's why it's often more beneficial for employers to retain talent rather than constantly looking to hire.

Group of young professional adults standing together while holding papers and smiling

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

So how can you, as a company, do a better job of convincing your workers to stay put? The answer might boil down to helping your employees achieve one elusive yet important goal: work-life balance.

How flexible are you willing to be?

A Flexjobs study released earlier this year revealed that only 30% of today's employees are satisfied with their work-life balance. Meanwhile, new data from MetLife tells us that 87% of workers who feel they have a good work-life balance are loyal to their employers and satisfied with their job situations.

How can you help workers achieve the balance they're looking for? Being more reasonable with deadlines and investing in resources are two smart courses of action, but if you really want to make an impact, you'll need to be prepared to be flexible. This could mean allowing employees to work remotely, offering different schedules, or a combination of both.

Nearly 75% of workers claim that having the option to do their jobs remotely is critical to achieving a good work-life balance, and 74% of employees feel that flexible scheduling helps build loyalty. And those numbers pretty much speak for themselves.

Of course, the risk of giving employees more leeway is having their output decrease and overall company productivity decline. But if you implement a flexible program in stages, you assess as you go, iron out kinks, and build a system that works best from a management and employee perspective alike.

Start by allowing proven high performers to telecommute or adjust their schedules a few days a week as a trial run -- say, over a three-month period. Be transparent about that test run to properly manage expectations. Then, once that initial period is over, you can consider offering that same flexibility to the rest of your staff, assuming you have no glaring reason not to.

The freelance lifestyle beckons

If you can't help but notice a massive uptick in freelance workers in recent years, it's because more and more employees are recognizing the importance of achieving a solid work-life balance. And freelancing is perhaps the most conducive arrangement with regard to this goal. In fact, 57% of today's employees say they're interested in working on a freelance basis, while 24% say they plan to leave their full-time jobs within the next five years to go freelance instead. Therefore, if you're looking to hang on to key employees who might already be plotting to jump ship, you'll need to be more flexible with them.

Being flexible also helps build employee morale. When workers feel trusted and respected, their performance tends to reflect that. So even if you don't have a problem with employee retention today, it pays to consider the merits of a flexible system that might prevent some key players from venturing out on their own in the coming years.

Do flexible work schedules come with a degree of risk? Yes. But the fact that so many companies implement them successfully means it's a tactic worth considering at the very least.

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