National unemployment is hovering around 3.6%. In the southwest region, it can be even lower, with Arizona and New Mexico at 3.5% and Utah at a somewhat unfathomable 2.4%. Typically, experts in the economy and in human resources consider “full employment” to actually be at about 5% unemployment. This is because there has to be room in that number for people to change jobs, and there are certain people for whom steady employment is just not feasible. What this means for employers is simple – It is next to impossible to find employees to fill positions without enticing people who already have jobs.
If you have not considered the fact that your current employees are being “sold” on moving to your competitor, you are fooling yourself. Forget your good employees, even average employees have options out there, and if a competitor knows they’re looking, they will pounce. Finding employees is a lot of work, so it’s wise to take the time to do what you can to retain the employees you have. How do you make sure that your employees have all the knowledge they need in their back pocket to be able to weigh an offer somewhere else, and still choose to stay with you?
One step to take is to make sure you are having regular discussions with your employees about their “Total Compensation”. Work with your payroll and HR professionals to put together a report on ALL the pay and benefits that your employees receive. This should include the obvious stuff – pay, paid time off, health insurance, 401K – but also the more intangible benefits: flexibility in schedule or work site, dress codes, company culture, the ability to progress in their career. If they know all the benefits of their current job with you and what they’d lose by leaving, it will be easier for them to turn down an offer for another couple bucks an hour.
Next, make sure you have clear and communicated career progression plans in place. This can be helpful for even the smallest businesses. If someone is working as a receptionist and aspires to do more in the future, they need to know that those opportunities exist in your company so that they don’t have to go looking for them somewhere else. Have those discussions with your existing employees, and then work to help them progress.
Finally, and most simple, talk to your employees. Get to know who they are. Find out what challenges they are having in their job and work to overcome those challenges together. People are more willing to go the extra mile or have the hard conversation with someone if they feel they are valued as people. The more your employees feel like you care about who they are and what they care about, the more likely they are to want to stay. They will also be disposed to give you the courtesy of more advanced notice and willingness to train a replacement if they do ultimately decide to leave.