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Employee Retention May Not Require Your Biggest Financial Investment, But It Might be the Most Effective Investment
By Sara Mackey, Marketing Communications Specialist

As employers, nearly everyone these days is more impacted by employee attrition, or even under the potential threat of attrition, as baby boomers are retiring in record numbers and younger generations are leaving their jobs for greener pastures, to join the so-called gig economy and make their own hours, or to help educate their kids during COVID or for a variety of other reasons. In your HR work, you are likely already doing everything you can to encourage employee retention. There may be a few ways your local technical college can provide support for additional services to your employees you may or may not be considering, that might help make employees feel appreciated, valued and less likely to leave. Obviously, employers cannot take on all employees’ psychological and emotional needs, especially amid all the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. But there are some considerations that might be helpful to sustain employees and may benefit both the employee and the organization.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” theory of motivation lays out how different physiological, psychological and factors help drive and support employee motivation. The lowest level of the “pyramid” includes the most fundamental needs of employees, pertaining to safety. These could include a well-lit parking lot (or parking garage / space, bus stop, etc.), clean and working bathrooms, the availability of clean drinking water, well-maintained interior and exterior spaces and having a physically accessible workplace. Is there security to protect your employees from threats and attempted physical violence? Is health care an option? And is it partially covered by the employer? If these more basic needs aren’t met, employers may not be able to maintain employees, even at the most entry-level positions.

The next level of employee needs Maslow identifies as very important to creating a pleasant workplace is social. We all want positive work relations, free of toxic relationships. We want to feel welcome to come to work and have a sense of belonging and trust. Without those, the work may continue, but the atmosphere will corrode and become unpleasant. If that happens, most employees will consider leaving unless they are getting an unusual amount of pay and prestige (the next level of Maslow’s hierarchy), but even that is usually not enough to keep most people productive, much less happy and engaged.

Esteem is a level of need many employees seek as a basis for content and success. Appreciation and respect are critically important to retaining people in the long-term and achieving consistent productivity. In addition to that, people want pay and benefits that are at least comparable to similar workplace environments. However, the comparable status during this time of “great resignation” may not be enough to keep employees happy; they may be looking for even better working conditions, where they can achieve the highest of Maslow’s needs: self-actualization, meaning they have opportunities for personal and professional growth, they feel challenged and are recognized for their success in meeting and overcoming challenges. They may be able to perceive advancement opportunities and look for some room for creativity. The climate today suggests that without a level of care and support for employees, many will leave for a place that provides a higher level of comfort and pride.

If employers are late to notice employee discontentedness, there may still be time to correct the issues. Sometimes, the employer can easily identify what the issues are driving employees out, but sometimes it’s not obvious. It is often best to bring in an objective party to look at these items and propose restorative measures to the workplace. HR staff can help acknowledge the need for changes, and Wisconsin’s technical colleges are your partners to help identify and resolve the issues you’re facing. Our colleges offer consultation to help employers see the areas of trouble. Consider calling your local technical college if you are seeing increasing turnover. The customized business solutions at Wisconsin’s technical college are an affordable and effective way to resolve concerns or voids in employee overall wellness. Visit https://www.wtcsystem.edu/workforce-solutions/ to connect with the workforce solutions teams at Wisconsin’s technical colleges.   


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