Many HR professionals are excited about the emerging trends that will enable HR to work hand in hand with departments across their organizations to bring about sorely needed boosts in workforce culture and engagement for improved retention. Much of the business world is still navigating the impact of inflation, economic growth and turns, labor shortages, changing workforce demographics, and health and emotional stressors coming from every direction, all of which contributed to the Great Resignation of 2021 that rolled right through 2022. With quit rates staying steady, it’s no surprise that most HR trends are related to retention.
Increased Emphasis on Retention Strategies
Organizations have realized just how important it is—now more than ever—to retain hard-to-find team members. The top reasons why employers lost employees last year include workers’ dissatisfaction with their bosses, compensation, and work-life balance, as well as a “lack of recognition/appreciation” and “few growth/advancement opportunities.” The right retention strategies can help employees mitigate these factors and can help position an organization as the top choice for both current and prospective employees.
Revamp onboarding. New hires are more likely to stay at an organization longer when they go through a good onboarding process that introduces them to the company culture, builds community and belonging for them, and makes them feel good about their choice to join the organization. A well-planned onboarding process also decreases the time it takes them to get up to speed and become productive in their new roles.
Engage early and often. Gathering feedback from new hires during their first 90 days gives them enough time to become familiar with the company and their new role but still leaves plenty of time to fix anything that might be wrong. Options include having someone other than the new hire’s manager conduct one-on-one interviews with them and using an online tool to roll out short, easy-to-complete pulse surveys to provide data that management can act on immediately without waiting for an annual review or more formal engagement survey.
Keep pay competitive. This strategy should not be limited to new hires but applied across the entire organization—after all, it’s less expensive to keep a good employee than to hire a new one. For companies that increased starting pay last year, now may be an excellent time to ensure that pay scales are equitable and competitive for current employees, too. (This goal can be achieved through programs such as benchmarking key roles and evaluating pay bands, for example.) If no changes are needed, management and HR could consider sharing a total compensation statement that allows employees to see and appreciate a complete picture of the total pay and benefits they receive.
Evaluate benefits offerings. With one recent survey identifying “fair pay and benefits” among the main factors influencing employees’ “intent to stay,” organizations should consider a benefit benchmarking study to see how they stack up against their competition. Asking employees which benefits are most important to them could yield additional useful information. (For example, a company might learn that it could save money and retain employees by offering a benefit that’s more attractive to Millennials and Generation Z employees and dropping an outdated, expensive benefit that isn’t appreciated by a younger workforce.)
Give managers training and resources to be successful. Great managers inspire their employees and bring the best out of them. Being a great manager isn’t an inherent skill, however, but one that must be learned. Organizations should provide training for managers that can help them relate to and guide their teams by learning how to give feedback, coach for development and goal planning, engage in hybrid or remote environments, and develop their business communication or soft skills.
Promote overall balance. People talk about “work-life balance,” but that term is too limiting, because it’s really a question of overall life balance. When organizations enable life balance and support growth and development holistically (flexibility, wellness, growth, engagement, etc.), they create thriving employee communities in which business outcomes are abundant.
“Our CEO is new and unlikely to go anywhere for a long time. So why would we need a succession plan?”
This refrain is common in the business world but fails to take into account the fact that succession plans aren’t just for the C-suite. What could happen if a company’s only IT person—the person who reigns over its network systems and security—suddenly left? Or what about the unexpected departure of the salesperson who brings in most of an organization’s revenue? Companies need to consider the impact that key people and roles at all levels can have on the health of their business and operations. Succession planning can help ensure that valuable knowledge and experiences don’t leave an organization when employees do.
Savvy organizations that are paying attention to this HR trend will seize the opportunity to get “rising stars” ready for critical roles that retirees may vacate soon and to prepare for unexpected turnover. Planned succession benefits both the existing employees prepared to share their knowledge and those valued employees seeking growth and advancement opportunities (which are critical for retention). Effective strategies for getting employees ready for the next level include implementing mentorships for relationship building and knowledge sharing, using assessments for growth coaching, hosting informal “lunch and learn” sessions for training, and providing leadership training that includes business and soft skills.
Recruitment Amid Workforce Shortages
Despite some cutbacks (notably in the tech industry), many sectors continue to scale up. Although the frantic rush of 2022 to get hires in the door has subsided a bit, employers are adding jobs at a rate still well above average trend growth, and staffing shortages and the fight for talent will likely continue through much of 2023.
In this environment, organizations need to make sure that their recruitment efforts don’t go to waste. They can do this in part by mitigating “shift shock,” the feeling a new hire has when they find that “that the position or company is very different from what [they] were led to believe” and an experience that is a major cause of turnover among new employees.
By crafting accurate job descriptions that state not just skills needed but identified and proven job success factors as well as the company’s key traits and values, an organization can reduce the possibility of mismatched hires. Training interviewers and hiring managers to use the job description appropriately throughout the hiring process can also lead to better hires.
Holistic Approaches to DEIB
Current HR trends include an increased emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) strategies. Improvements to an organization’s DEIB efforts can have a considerable impact on company culture and employee retention. More and more companies are working to make DEIB a core element of their organizations by implementing a variety of practices:
- Linking DEIB goals to leader performance measures to ensure accountability and importance. (For example, executive compensation incentive plans can be connected to DEIB successes.)
- Implementing transparent pay practices. Some organizations are doing this proactively, but many states already mandate pay transparency in hiring practices (and more are expected to do so in the near future). Pay transparency seems scary to some at first, but it can promote fair pay, establish clarity about promotional goals or merit increases, and even lead to more trust.
- Promoting inclusivity in benefit offerings. Demonstrating a commitment to DEIB through policy updates or added benefits can encourage and support a desired company culture. Many new benefit options include policies of particular interest to nontraditional families, enhanced parental leaves, and flexible holiday and PTO policies.
Using Employee Feedback to Address HR Trends
One organization’s needs will differ from those of another. Some will opt to highlight retention issues, for example, whereas many will focus instead on DEIB efforts. Measuring employee feedback can help leaders identify their candidates’ and employees’ needs and interests. Keeping an eye on—and responding to—the HR trends of today will help organizations be better prepared for whatever comes their way tomorrow.
 iHire. 2022. “Talent Retention Report 2022.” iHire website, www.ihire.com/employerlp/ihire-talent-retention-report-2022.
 Antonio Pangallo et al. 2022. “2023 Employee Experience Trends.” Qualtrics website, success.qualtrics.com/rs/542-FMF-412/images/Employee-Experience-Trends-2023-Global-US.pdf.
 Devin Tomb. 2022. “72% of Muse Survey Respondents Say They’ve Experienced “Shift Shock.” The Muse, August 30, www.themuse.com/advice/shift-shock-muse-survey-2022.