Published: Jun 13, 2019

As of April 2019, unemployment is at a decade low. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is currently 3.6% of the population. This is a decrease from the rates in February and March — at 3.8% — and in January — at 4.0%. Even though this is great news for the U.S. economy, it isn't exactly beneficial for recruiters.

We are currently in what's known as a candidate's market. This gives more power to job candidates and less to employers, as lower unemployment numbers mean fewer candidates going for a given job. Instead of finding qualified candidates the old-fashioned way — from prospects applying directly for jobs — recruiters are on the hunt for high-quality workers who are already employed. They might leverage their company's strong culture or attract prospects with a competitive salary to influence them to join their forces.

This trend shows that employee retention is more important than ever. With a low unemployment rate — and smaller applicant pool — and increased recruiting technologies to help HR professionals find strong candidates, it's crucial to build and maintain a positive workplace culture to keep your strongest employees on your side. There are plenty of ways executives and managers can improve employee retention in today's candidate-based job market. Let's explore some of these.

Team raising hands in victory together - employee retention trumps all concept

Track KPIs to improve employee engagement

Some companies think pizza parties, ping pong tables, and beer fridges are the key to a positive workplace culture. Don't get us wrong - who doesn't enjoy an intense Friday ping pong competition with coworkers? However, before zeroing in on these surface-level rewards, it's important to take a look at your culture on a broader level. Businesses with cultures that encourage retention engage workers throughout the employee life cycle. Managers pay close attention to certain key performance indicators, with special emphasis placed on quarterly performance and career goals. This attention to detail isn't meant to track an employee's metrics, per say. Its main purpose is to stay in tune with moments that warrant acknowledgement and reward.

Managers can use the workforce management data they see every day to measure their employees' productivity and progress, as well as the ins and outs of workers' specific projects. Equipped with this insight, they can contribute more specific feedback when participating in one-on-ones with staff. A unified HCM system also goes beyond time and schedules, encouraging managers to provide regular and timely assessments concerning the quality of employees' work in order to keep staff actively engaged and gives HR professionals access to a wealth of additional recruiting, talent management, performance, and succession data to use alongside the workforce management metrics mentioned above. This means you can keep the beer fridge, but make sure your employees are getting the individual attention they also need to move forward on key development paths. 

Let team members in with complete transparency

One factor that frustrates a workforce more than anything else is a lack of transparency. Without access to their own achievements, workers may have trouble developing long-term goals for themselves. If they aren't sure how their direct work has benefited the company, they might feel unfulfilled, as they won't see the immediate purpose of their accomplishments. There's nothing worse for a business's culture than the lingering feeling of "what am I even doing here?" among its employees.

A strong HCM system allows for increased transparency across the organization. Not only does this type of platform encourage employees to oversee their own progress on goals, pay rates, schedules, vacation time, benefits, and many other key details, it lets them view team and company metrics. Access to a comprehensive amount of information gives employees a sense of purpose, making them feel more valued in their work setting. As an added bonus, this transparency provides them with the context needed to set realistic individual and team-based goals.

Hand in hand with transparency comes accessibility. Today's on-the-go workforce may need to acquire data wherever they happen to be to help achieve work-life balance. For that reason, it's important that employers provide their workers with a platform they can access from a variety of devices, from their office desktops and personal laptops to tablets and smartphones. Unified HCM systems provide comprehensive sets of employee self-service tools accessible from all types of interfaces, making it easier than ever for employees to view what’s important to them anytime they need to.

Foster engagement from day one

Businesses should advocate for employee retention from the moment a worker steps into the building for their first day. The onboarding process is a crucial step in creating strong, capable employees. In addition, it sets the tone for the worker's experience with the company. If the onboarding process lacks structure, the new staff member may feel overwhelmed during the first few weeks of employment.

A human capital management system can help HR professionals execute on a variety of critical employee retention strategies. Whether it’s streamlining recruitment activity to find the right people in the current tight labor market, crafting a seamless and engaging onboarding process, or enhancing employee engagement long term with things like benefits, self-service, ongoing performance goals, and clear succession plans, with the right HR technology your business can focus on giving employees the experience they need to thrive with success and longevity -- ultimately fueling your company's success along the way.