Before the conference, here’s your chance to take a deeper dive into the content that will be covered at REAL HR 2019.

Speaker: Raymond Lee | CEO, Careerminds
Session: Attracting & Retaining Top Talent: Becoming an Employer of Choice


Employer Branding: Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Right now, employers are facing a unique challenge thanks, in part, to the high employment rate. With little unemployment, how to do organizations attract and retain top tier talent?

As everyone knows, talent retention should always be top-of-mind for HR leaders not only because of the unemployment rate but because it is often times more costly – by orders of magnitude – to hire new workers and train them up to the level of the ones that have made an exit.

So, what’s the solution? Is there a way to make yourself the ‘employer of choice’? Of course there is. And it’s all about giving your employees the red carpet treatment, allowing them to not only flourish in their careers but at your organization, too.

Let’s take a look at what this entails by first starting with an examination of the problem:

Retention Is Becoming More and More Vital

Thanks to low unemployment rates, voluntary turnover is on the rise in the US. According to the Work Institute’s 2018 Retention Report:

“In the wake of consistent economic growth, employees have seized available opportunities resulting in a surge of voluntary turnover that’s challenging employers – and it is here to stay for the foreseeable future.”

They go on to say that a whopping 28.6 percent of workers will leave their jobs voluntarily this year. And, to make matters a whole lot worse, that figure is supposed to rise to 33 percent by 2020. At that rate, one out of three workers will voluntarily quit their jobs for different ones in 2020.

That’s a whole lot of workers! This means that, unlike in other economic climates, retention is the most important thing a company can focus on right now.

“Increases in voluntary turnover will continue to affect the ability of organizations to sustain profits and grow revenues,” the Work Institute states in their report. “The cost of turnover, voluntary or involuntary, is estimated at one-third of a worker’s salary.”

Now that we have a better understanding of the climate right now, what is it that is making all of these people quit their jobs?

Preventable and Unpreventable Reasons for Employees to Quit

To make this simple, you can lump these reasons into two categories: preventable quits and unpreventable quits.

Here are some preventable quits:

  • Career Development
  • Work-Life Balance
  • Manager Behavior
  • Well-Being
  • Compensation & Benefits
  • Job Characteristics
  • Work Environment

And, here are the less preventable quits:

  • Relocation
  • Involuntary (layoffs, for example)
  • Retirement

All of the reasons listed in the preventable group can be directly impacted by making changes to your employer brand, especially if you give your workers the red carpet treatment at every stage of the employee lifecycle.

As a refresher, employer branding is how working for your company is perceived by the outside world (this, obviously, applies to those working for you, too, though). A strong employer brand makes people want to work for you and makes those already working for you want to stick around in the long run.

A great employer brand can be achieved by recognizing what makes employees engaged, motivated, and – most importantly – happy.

These are all part of what’s called your talent value proposition (TVP), which simply is what value you extend to your workers and what value they extend to you while working there. Since this is a rather short post, we’ll focus on the top three things that employees should be paying attention to really kick off their employer branding initiative.

Career Development Is Vital

According to the new report, 21 percent of workers who leave their jobs do so because of career development reasons.

Here’s a better breakdown:

  • 33% Type of Work
  • 22% Lack of Growth & Development Opportunities
  • 19% Returning to School
  • 17% No Advancement or Promotional Opportunity
  • 8% Job Security
  • 2% General Career Reason

As you can see, 33 percent of those workers left because they wanted to do some other type of work. This doesn’t mean that they left because they don’t like a company or their manager (which we’ll get to in a second), but rather because they wanted to do something else. These types of quits are generally to take a lateral position or even break into an entry level position.

The second and fourth are all products of a lack of growth inside the company. If a person gives five years of their lives to an organization, they should be better offer than where they started. Upward mobility is of utmost importance because it furthers the employee’s goals for not only work but their lives, too.

The other three (returning to school, job security, and general) are all less preventable as the ones we mentioned above. Sure, you can control job security, however, in today’s market jobs are already pretty secure thanks to a strong economy.

So, in order to keep those that would leave jobs because of ‘type of work’ or a growth-related reason, you should pay close attention to what your employee wants. This is where your value proposition comes into play. You need to understand what goal the employee has and help them achieve it.

Employees should have a clear pathway for success that they can follow to move up, gain more responsibility, and make larger salaries because of it. No one wants to feel stagnant in life or work.

Work-Life Balance: It’s a Buzzword for a Reason

Work-life balance is a hot topic right now across the business world for a reason. In the new report, 13 percent of workers who quit do so because of work-life issues. Here’s the break down:

  • 68% Schedule
  • 22% Commute
  • 5% Schedule Flexibility
  • 5% Travel

The real takeaway here is ‘schedule.’ If you add flexibility, scheduling issues account for 73 percent of work-life balance problems.

Workers have spoken and they have said that they want to do their jobs but they want to do them in a way that allows them to live, too. So why not allow workers to work from home if they need to? Why not allow them to work mobily at a coffee shop if they need to visit their doctor in the mid afternoon across town? If they have a sick child, why not be flexible?

As long as their work is getting done and their goals are being met, workers should be allowed to work how they want to work. Not only does this help with work-life balance, but it makes people realize that you trust them enough to get their work done.

Manager Behavior: The Sleeper Issue

While career development and work-life balance are two subjects that come up quite a lot, manager behavior is a topic that is rarely thought of unless something major happens.

However, despite it being a relatively quiet topic, 11 percent of workers who quit cite manager behavior as the reason. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 35% Unprofessionalism
  • 18% Lack of Support
  • 17% Poor Employee Treatment
  • 12% General Behavior
  • 8% Poor Communication
  • 7% Lack of Manager Competence

Unlike all of the other topics that we mentioned here today, this one is fully within your control, especially because the number one reason is unprofessionalism. Managers, it goes without saying, should be professional, supportive, and great communicators. This skill set is the general makeup of every manager, ever.

But how are you supposed to know this? Well, for one, exit interviews help tremendously because that is a time when employees feel the most comfortable talking about their managers. You can also provide candid, anonymous surveys to employees, too. This allows them to speak freely without being fearful of retaliation.

Once you discover a problem, work with managers to help them become better at their roles through training, conferences, book readings, and other tools that easily obtained at your organization.

These All Impact Your Employer Brand

In order to make sure that you roll out the red carpet for your employees and increase your employer brand, you need to pay close attention to the inner workings of your business. This means understanding why people leave and why they stay.

If you do all three of these, you can eat up 45 percent of the common reasons why people make voluntary exits from your organization. And, in today’s world that’s super connected, these changes will actually make you an employer of choice with a strong talent value proposition that keeps employees retained and attracts new talent at the same time.


About Raymond Lee

Raymond Lee is the Founder and CEO of Careerminds, a technology-enabled outplacement, career development, and retirement coaching company launched in 2008. He will be a speaker at SHRM-Atlanta Symposium on August 20th in Atlanta GA.