3 ways to improve employee retention at the start of 2023

Another new year, another round of employee exits? It doesn’t need to be so. The ‘Great Resignation’ seen during the first half of 2022 is unlikely to be repeated in the early months of 2023 due to ongoing economic uncertainty and a greater desire for job security amongst employees. However, a new trend is revealing itself: quick quitting.

Data has revealed that employees are not wasting time moving on from jobs and employers they are dissatisfied with. Results of a global Boston Consulting Group survey released in December 2022 revealed that among deskless workers, 52% of those whose tenure is less than 12 months are either actively or passively job hunting. This trend has been branded as ‘quick quitting’ – likely a reference to the ‘quiet quitting’ phenomenon of 2022. 

In particular, younger workers appear to be heading out the door quicker than their older colleagues. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of 18-24 year old deskless workers say that they feel burned out from work and 55% are either actively looking for a new job or would consider switching if the right opportunity came along. By comparison, only 30% of deskless workers who are 55 or older say they are job hunting, and 38% of those aged 45-54 say the same.

Is employee loyalty dead?

This latest research is likely to be concerning news to industries that rely heavily on young, often casual workers – such as retail, hospitality, and events and stadia. It also presents a question to all employers: is employee loyalty dead? 

It’s important to note that this is not a new phenomenon. People under the age of 25 have always had greater job mobility than older workers, as they are generally keener to broaden their experience and find their niche, and may not have the financial responsibilities of their more mature counterparts.  

Indeed, with the exception of the Great Recession period (2007-2009), research from the US suggests that today’s young workers are not changing employers more often than young workers did in the 1980s, 1990s or early 2000s. In addition, HILDA research cited by McCrindle shows that in Australia, the average tenure of under 25s remains unchanged from four decades ago: 1 year and 8 months. However, back then, workers aged 45+ averaged almost 10 years per job. Today it is 6 years and 8 months.  

Loyalty is not dead, but recent global events like COVID-19 have sparked a rethink of the role that work plays in the lives of everyday workers. It’s a reminder that the employee-employer relationship runs both ways. If employers can’t meet at least some of the demands of employees, they’ll miss out. Read more about new employee expectations of work in our blog.

How to buck the trend and retain people for longer

At the start of 2023, employers will be attempting to do everything within their power to retain their existing employees, especially during their critical first days, weeks and months on the job.  

Download Humanforce’s comprehensive guide and handy checklist for everything that needs to be done during the onboarding of new deskless employees in Australia or New Zealand. 

There are other ‘essentials’ that employers should aim cross off their list in order to improve the employee experience and hold onto employees for longer. Here are three key tips to improve retention in your organisation.

Ensure pay is competitive – but don’t forget the ‘total rewards’ package you can offer

Pay and broader rewards packages have long been considered a “hygiene” factor that do not necessarily lead to greater job satisfaction, motivation, or retention. However, they can cause dissatisfaction or disengagement if they aren’t deemed “right” or “fair”. 

Commensurate and equitable pay is one way to make people feel more valued and appreciated, and that’s certainly the case for many underpaid frontline workers. Also keep in mind that increasing pay may be more cost effective than advertising a role, interviewing, hiring and training a replacement. It often costs less to keep staff than replace them, especially when the average cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one half to two times the employee’s annual salary. 

However, with remuneration budgets remaining tight, it can never hurt to remind employees of the “total rewards” package they might be receiving. While fixed pay and bonuses form one part of a broader benefits package, other components may include parental leave, study leave and study assistance, extra superannuation or pension payments, and other discounts or lifestyle benefits (car parking, discounted finance, product discounts, etc.). Communicate everything that you, as the employer, can offer – especially to new employees. If possible, empower all employees to customise their benefits package to suit their personal circumstances.

Create a ‘sticky’ workplace by facilitating internal talent moves

If employees can’t see a future in your organisation, why would they stay? What sort of reward is a dead-end? For most people, there’s an ongoing desire to get a better job so they can be paid more, promoted, or land their dream role. If those needs aren’t met with their current employer, they’ll leave as soon as a better opportunity arises elsewhere. 

Research from LinkedIn shows that employees who make an internal move – through either promotion or lateral change – are more likely to stay at their organisation longer than those who stay in the same role. The research revealed:

  • After two years, an employee who has made an internal move has a 76% chance of staying at their company. In contrast, an employee who has not made an internal move has a 50% chance of staying.

  • After three years, an employee who has made an internal move has a 65% chance of staying, while an employee who has made no internal moves has a 38% chance of staying.

The results of course vary widely by industry, but on the whole, those industries reliant on deskless workers were amongst those that benefitted the most from internal moves. These included construction, manufacturing, accommodation (hospitality) and retail. 

The benefits of internal movements flow to both employees and employers. For employers there are huge benefits in terms of longer tenure, higher engagement and an increased ability to fill skills gaps in different areas of the business.  

For employees, career advancement doesn’t just mean more knowledge and new skills. It can also mean taking on more responsibility and opening pathways to better pay. Retail employers, for example, might identify various pathways to help move employees from the shop floor to management positions, supporting them with appropriate learning and development at each stage of their pathway. It’s never too early to start a conversation with employees about their career objectives.

  1. Offer greater flexibility

There’s no question that deskless workers want greater flexibility. A 2021 survey by Gartner revealed that nearly half of employees who are not knowledge workers want their organisation to provide them with greater control over when, where and how much they work. Right now, less than a third of this group reports having flexibility in any area of their work. 

While the nature of the work undertaken by these workers means they must be ‘on-the-ground’ and cannot work from home, there are other ways to provide flexibility. 

Flexible work isn’t just about the location at which work is undertaken. It’s also about providing more autonomy and choice about the hours worked – and that’s something that can be offered to deskless workers.  

Flexible work arrangements in all workplaces need to ensure that the needs of employees are balanced with the needs of the organisation. This is especially the case in shift-based workplaces where there might be legal and compliance-related reasons for having the right number of people with the right qualifications rostered at the right time and place. Leaders need to balance staffing requirements to ensure operations run as needed, without the risk and expense of over- or under-staffing, while also ensuring employees get a balance of consistency and flexibility. That flexibility may take any of the following forms:

  • Flex-work time: Work schedules are staggered to create compressed working weeks or flexible working hours

  • Flex-time off: A manager may choose to extend leave days, extend time-off, or reduce daily work hours

  • Flex-work locations: Depending on organisational needs and size, deskless workers have the liberty of choosing where they’re comfortable working – e.g. a retail store closer to home

  • The ability for employees to bid on preferred shifts and swap shifts with colleagues

By listening to the ‘voice of employees’, gathering feedback and ensuring you have access to appropriate data and metrics to spot trends, the risk of higher than average employee turnover is both predictable and preventable.  

For further insights on the issues that will shape people management in 2023, click here to download Humanforce’s 2023 HR Trends eBook.

How Humanforce can help

Humanforce is a leading provider of shift-based workforce management solutions that simplify onboarding, scheduling, time and attendance, pay, employee engagement, and communication. Customers in more than 23 countries use Humanforce to optimise costs, realise compliance confidence, empower their team, and drive growth. Humanforce was founded in Sydney in 2002, and today has offices across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK. 

For more information on how Humanforce can help your organisation to offer early access to earned wages, or to discover how our software can automate and simplify your workforce management processes, contact us or schedule a demo.