Talent retention

Recent analysis by LinkedIn reveals the biggest reasons behind job switches in the region
Emphasising career advancement can help retain current employees and attract new ones, says Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn Middle East and North Africa.
Emphasising career advancement can help retain current employees and attract new ones, says Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn Middle East and North Africa.

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While every industry has unique drivers motivating its workforce, LinkedIn research in the MENA has found that the number one reason people leave their jobs is due to lack of opportunities for advancement (45%). The other biggest reasons people jumped included being unhappy with leadership (41%), being unhappy with the work environment (36%), and a desire for more challenging work (36%).

An in-depth analysis by LinkedIn into the highest talent turnover rates in MENA shows that in 2017, the technology sector, particularly the software sector saw the most number of professionals leaving their companies, pegging the figure at 12.3%. This was followed by ‘Professionals Services’ at 11.1% and ‘Telecommunications’ at 9.65%.

Globally, according to the research, tech companies (software, not hardware) had the most turnover over in 2017 with a 13.2% rate. Retail—a historically high-churn sector—followed closely behind at 13.0%, while media/entertainment (11.4%), professional services (11.4%), and government/education/nonprofit (11.2%) round out the top five. Over the last few years, these sectors have consistently seen the highest turnover rates.

“The trouble with retaining tech talent is high-demand and rising compensation within the industry. As employers and offers get more competitive, top talent is more eager to jump on new opportunities. Emphasising career advancement can help retain current employees and attract new ones,” said Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn Middle East and North Africa.

According to LinkedIn, to mitigate turnover problems, improve retention, and attract more talent, companies need to arm themselves with insights.

“Once you have the data to anticipate turnover, you can act to retain key employees and recruit new ones way ahead of time. It’s the difference between constantly reacting and proactively planning”.

The global analysis found some excellent examples of new ways to drive employee retention. At LinkedIn, for instance, it was found that something as simple as a few conversations could have a major impact on retention rates. By encouraging managers to have more career-focused conversations with employees, attrition rates for those engineers plummeted to 5.5%.

According to reflections by VP of HR Erin Earle, on what she learned from the two-year retention effort, four tips emerged.

Ensure ownership from the business.

Leverage internal expertise to deliver the right training.

Partner closely with data analytics to inform decisions at every step.

Stay hyper-focused.

Similarly, when leaders at Nielsen analysed their retention data, they saw that employees who made lateral career moves within the company tended to stay much longer. In fact, they found that moving employees laterally was nearly as effective as giving them a promotion.

Among other insights that emerged from Nielsen’s analysis, an interesting one was that the first year matters most; if employees don’t even reach it to their first performance review, their likelihood of leaving rose exponentially. They observed that gender and ethnicity didn’t actually play much of a role in tenure.

In yet another instance, Hershey is building an impressive model that can predict employee retention with 87% accuracy. For example, they found that remote workers and those who have had multiple managers in a short period were much less likely to stay. The company uses these insights both to help retain valuable at-risk employees and to recruit new talent ahead of time to stay fully staffed for their busy seasons.

Outside of increasing compensation and improving benefits, LinkedIn offers organisations some useful tips to keep employees around for longer. It stresses on the need to set clear expectations during the hiring process.  Often expectations are not addressed during or after the hiring process. Employees want to understand what they can expect from their manager and what their manager expects from them. Not knowing daily expectations leads to frustration and job dissatisfaction.

Another important aspect is to make sure the job description is up to date and portrays the role realistically. This is often neglected by many employers. Too often job descriptions have not been updated and as a result, the actual job is not what was described during the interview process. Moreover, it’s essential to regularly communicate with employees to find if they have any other talents, which might be useful to the company.

It’s also commonly observed that many individuals quit their job not because of the company but because of the direct manager. This usually happens when the personality, core values or style of a specific manager does not align with the employee. LinkedIn suggests that allowing the employee to be evaluated by others than their direct employer can open up communication to identify and resolve the mismatch. It is also equally important to provide leadership development to improve the management capabilities of supervisors.

LinkedIn further highlights the importance of consistent training. Many employees feel stagnant without an opportunity to advance their knowledge and skills. Providing regular training and also involving employees in presenting training provides them with the opportunity to increase their knowledge.

In general, individuals want to learn new things and advance whether it is an upward move or a lateral move with additional responsibilities. Challenging employees to take on additional responsibilities and learn new things is critical if they are to be retained.

Flexibility of work hours and work life balance are also very important in employee retention and job satisfaction. The ability to work virtual or have flexible hours is often more desirable than increased compensation, according to LinkedIn research. If extra hours are worked, the effort needs to be recognized.

With all that being said, it’s difficult to have one solution that works for every organisation. Even if a company is dedicated to employee engagement, at times retention is an issue. It implies the need to review the information shared during exit interviews and make changes so you can retain your top talent.

People analytics is definitely something that should feature on the agenda of employers who wish to have the best workforce and retain them.

As LinkedIn suggests, employees could be driven by different motivators than the employers, which is why it’s critical to see the company through their eyes. This outside/in approach can be very helpful in taking the necessary steps to apply techniques that will create a great working environment which will improve retention.

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