3 Ways to Improve Employee Retention in the Age of Passive Job Seekers

employee retention
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Let’s be honest: this is not a good time for employee retention. In fact, a report from the Labor Department found that 3.3 million people willingly left their job in May of this year. That’s the highest percentage of employees to quit since April 2001.

For companies that are already having a hard time filling open positions, this is terrible news. Now you need to double down on both talent acquisition and employee retention. Otherwise, given all the great employment opportunities that are currently out there, even passive job seekers will start to leave your organization.

To keep your team members happy, you need to understand what they’re currently missing from their job. By making these changes, employees will be less likely to say yes when another job offer comes their way.

Here are three ways to keep passive job seekers from leaving:

1. Rethinking career paths

Career paths used to be very cut-and-dry. Most employees joined a company in an entry-level position and then paid their dues to move up the corporate ladder. But now, employees make lateral moves or have a wide variety of experiences that don’t align with traditional job descriptions. When employers can’t support or find a place for their team’s development, employees begin to look elsewhere.

For many employees, this means finding a second job that fulfills the needs their employer isn’t addressing. In fact, Jobvite’s 2018 Job Seeker Nation study found 31 percent of employees have a side hustle or are a freelancer. Of these, 22 percent have the second job to pursue another interest or passion. This means many of your employees are independently working toward the next step in their career. They’ve already got one foot out the door.

Better retain these employees by finding ways to meld their other professional interests with their current job. Have a conversation to see what employees love about their side hustle. Do they enjoy having more direct contact with clients? Are they excited by the chance to try new trends? Does it allow them to use a separate set of skills than their current role?

Then work together to see if there’s a way for them to incorporate these perks into their work with your company. For example, if a marketing employee is interested in design, let them work with the design team one day a week. Finding the right plan will take creative thinking, but it’s better for employees to grow within your company than outside of it.

2. Give jobs new meanings

It’s not uncommon for people to get bored with their jobs. They come in day after day and repeat the same tasks. Over time, it’s easy to forget how their individual responsibilities matter. Feeling like just another cog in the wheel, they begin to look for a new, more exciting opportunities.

As an employer, you need to remind employees that they are an integral part of the team. One of the best ways to do this is with constant recognition. Whenever the team meets a goal, be sure to show appreciation. Don’t just send out a generic thank-you email; get specific.

Talk with team managers beforehand and get a list of what each employee did to ensure success. Then meet with employees one-on-one or in small groups to acknowledge each individual’s contribution. Be sure to tie their actions to the pillars of the organization, like the mission and values. This will remind employees that what they do matters.

3. Collect employee feedback

There are always signs when an employee is unhappy and thinking about quitting. The question is whether you as an employer are on the lookout for those signals. By noticing small issues early on, you can fix the situation before it makes employees start to think about other options.

The best way to keep your finger on the pulse of how employees are feeling is by conducting feedback surveys. When crafting these questionnaires, it’s important to always address overarching employee engagement metrics. Ask how employees feel about their managers. See if they are happy with the benefits package. Find out if they feel valued in the organization. These questions will help you track big picture trends in the company.

Also be sure to include open-ended responses where employees can share their suggestions and opinions. What employees choose to share will help you see opportunities to make improvements throughout the organization.

Employee retention should always be a top priority for your organization. But right now, if you’re not making extra efforts in the workplace, passive job seekers will quickly start leaving. By showing you value each employee and by listening to their needs, they’ll be less likely to consider other employment options.

Want to learn about retaining employees? Check out this blog article about employee loyalty!

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution that gives job seekers complete control over their job search. It's available for individual users, university and military career services centers, libraries, and corporations seeking to offer outplacement assistance to former employees. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.