Employee Engagement

5 Things you need to know about employee retention in 2020

employee retention

Employee retention seems to be on everyone’s lips these days, and with good reason - losing a star employee is a lot like having a really bad breakup. And we don’t mean a ‘ag no, that sucks, better reactivate my Tinder account’ kind of breakup.

We mean the kind where you already bought property together and vacationed with the parents and only have one garlic press because you gave the other one away. The kind of breakup that keeps Kleenex and Toblerone in business, and sells copies of the Alanis Morisette back-catalogue like nobody’s business. The no-don’t-look-at-me-ugly-cry breakup. 

You see, star employees are the glue that binds. They come into your company and revive it from the inside out with their verve, tenacity and white-hot skill. So when they leave, things tend to fall apart in a quite spectacular fashion. This is why it’s very important to keep them around.

So what is a forward-thinking South African company to do in 2020 to keep their top players on the field? The following employee retention guidelines are a good place to start: 


1. Talented employees need room for growth

When talented employees feel sufficiently stimulated they tend to leave the organisation that made them feel that way. This is why companies throughout South Africa are battling with high turnover rates despite the fact that the unemployment rate is currently sitting at a very scary 29%. What this tells us is that qualified job seekers would rather face the uncertainty of the unknown than stick around in a job that doesn’t make the most of their abilities. 

The solution to this problem is to ensure that your employees have tangible room for growth in their positions and to give them the wiggle-room necessary to spread their wings. Don’t coop up the peacocks when they want to fly! Let them strut their stuff - when high-calibre workers know there are rungs left to climb they are far more likely to stick around to do so. 


2. You need to keep a constant finger on the pulse of your organisation

Is the job of the human resources department to manage employee relationships. Right? Well, yes and no. Yes, they have a huge hand in it, but also no - it’s not just their job.

The whole management team should be working together to facilitate employee engagement and keep tabs on employee morale. This requires an ongoing conversation with your workforce to ensure that small problems do not become big problems that cause a toxic work environment.

Ongoing check-ins with your employees allow you to recalibrate on the go and keep things on an even keel, resulting in a robust work culture that keeps people around. 

You can read more here 👉Why pulse surveys are all the rage right now 


3. Place people in positions in which they can succeed

If you want to improve retention and reduce turnover rates in the long-term, the one thing you should keep in mind is that your employees want to succeed. No-one starts out at a job dreaming about being mediocre.

It all starts with placing the right people in the right positions. Winani Ndlovu, research manager at employer branding specialist Universum, a company that does an annual survey of 22 000+ professionals to determine the most attractive employers in South Africa, believes that company leaders should demonstrate a clear vision and purpose right from the start.

“What companies should be doing better is to articulate up-front what the employee relationship is going to look like. So, when talent joins, they come in for the right reasons: they know what the business stands for, they know what their role looks like, and they have the right expectations from the word go,” said Ms Ndlovu.


4. Retention is about more than salary and job security

According to the same Universum survey, the reasons for employee turnover are not always as clear cut as being unhappy about a salary bracket or craving more job security. Work-life balance, work environment and many other factors play a role.

“The key reasons young professionals want to move are mismatched expectations in areas like career development, the ability to do meaningful and creative work, how innovative an employer is, growth prospects and ethics,” says Ms Ndlovu.


5. Multi-generational workforces need strong leadership

Multi-generational employee pools call for nimble management. You want the Baby Boomer stalwarts who remain with the company to stick around to mentor and share their hard-won skills, you want your Gen X’ers and Millennials to bring the energy and forward-thinking innovation to the table, and you want them all to get along while they do so.

That’s a whole long list of wants that requires a strong focus on treating employees as individuals if you want to prevent needless talent churn. The key is to keep empathy at the core of communication and leave those lines of communication wide open. 

You can read more here 👉How to boost employee engagement with generation-specific feedback

Now you know! Once more for the folks at the back? Here are the handy crib notes about the things you need to know about employee retention in 2020:  


  1. Provide room for growth.
  2. Check in with your personnel regularly. 
  3. Place the right people in the right positions. 
  4. Provide your workforce with more than job security and salary. 
  5. Manage your multi-generational team with empathy. 

In the meantime, if you want to take some tangible steps to making employee retention a priority at your place of work, we would like to invite you to take a look at our eBook that tackles the steps you need to build a great recognition program. Simply click the button below to get started 👇

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