The Great Resignation has gotten HR leaders thinking about their recruitment and retention strategies. With 91% of HR leaders worried about employee turnover in the near future (according to Gartner), HR teams are left wondering: How do we make our recruitment and retention strategy successful? And should we even be focusing on employee retention at all?
This article explores the two primary recruitment and retention strategies, their pros and cons, how internal vs. external hiring ties in, and how to determine which method is best for your company.
The Main Recruitment and Retention Strategies
Employee attrition—the reduction in staff that occurs when employees leave a company but are not replaced—is a critical issue for the modern HR leader. And the problem isn't going away.
Two leading recruitment and retention strategies attempt to reduce employee attrition.
- Retain as many employees as possible for as long as possible (think Target, Lockheed Martin, etc.)
- Disregard retention altogether and focus instead on having an incredible recruitment strategy to replace employees that leave (think Amazon, retail, fast food, etc.)
The Pros and Cons of Each Approach
Having a solid workforce retention strategy:
- Gives companies a chance to build a stronger company culture and encourages company leaders to prioritize their employees and their wellbeing and happiness
- Reduces turnover costs
- May experience more innovation
Companies that have a successful retention strategy focus on these best practices inspired by SHRM:
- Recruitment. Have an incredible, nailed-down interview process, and have clear strategies and plans for recruitment.
- Training and development. Give employees the tools they need to succeed in their role—and train managers to be an excellent resource for employees.
- Compensation and rewards. No matter your approach, employees expect mental health programs to help them cope with life's stressors.
- Supervision and management. Fair treatment and superb management are keys to retention as well.
- Employee engagement. Employees that feel connected to the organization are more likely to stay. A mental health program is a great way to bump up the community factor in your organization.
Focusing on recruitment over retention strategies:
- Helps companies hire more people faster
- Potentially increases the likelihood employees will give new ideas or innovations
- Potentially increases the short-term motivation of the workforce
- Increases turnover costs
- Makes companies less attractive to top talent
- Reduces productivity and can hurt company culture
Amazon has a turnover rate of 150% per year. That means, on average, they have to replace their entire workforce every 8 months!
Amazon has embraced the idea that employees will only remain interested for so long. They have decided to knock employee retention very low on the priority list—and make recruitment a top priority. They have the systems and place (not to mention the cash) to do so—making this a challenging strategy to implement for the average company.
Related: How to Increase Employee Retention
Internal vs External Hiring Strategies
Regardless of your preferred retention strategy, HR leaders should also consider their recruitment strategy.
Internal vs. external hiring is a great debate. Most companies can benefit by using both approaches.
Here is the rationale for these recruitment strategies.
Internal Hiring Pros and Cons
Internal hiring involves promoting people from within or having employees make lateral moves within the organization.
- You don't need to search for new talent (which lowers expenses)
- Reduces time to hire an employee
- Shortens onboarding timeline
- Costs less than hiring externally
- Increases employee engagement and retention by giving employees the ability to be promoted or even change departments within the organization
- Potential need to fill the holes in the organization
- Possible jealousy and resentment of coworkers that did not get the promotion
- Limits your hiring options
- May reduce the stream of new ideas into the organization
If you're considering internal hiring, it is vital to make training a top priority and have a clear transition process. Have a straightforward interview process, plan ahead of time how you will let internal employees know if they have not been accepted for the position, and make sure to train employees on their new roles and responsibilities.
External Hiring Pros and Cons
Hiring externally entails looking for new talent outside your organization.
- Bring in new ideas and ways of thinking
- Access to a more competitive talent pool
- Lowers internal politics and potential internal conflict
- Hard to find great people
- Sourcing and hiring it time consuming
- Longer onboarding timeline
- Increased likelihood of turnover
Related: Top 4 Most Important Benefits for Millennials and Gen Z
Which Recruitment and Retention Strategies Are Best for Your Team?
It all depends on company goals.
Measuring these employee engagement stats may help you determine your company's direction.
No matter which recruitment and retention strategy your team chooses, a focus on training and development will serve your company well. Here are some tips on recruitment that will help you as your implement your workforce retention strategies (it is all about training).
- Train people properly the first time (the first 90 days are crucial)
- Train people as they move up to new positions or move horizontally in the organization
- Train managers and employees on how to support their own mental health and support others
- Train employees on how to use mental health programs and take advantage of all company benefits
For more on recruitment and retention strategies, check out these articles:
- How to Increase Employee Retention
- How to Use Your Mental Health Program to Increase Retention
- 3 Ways Corporate Massage Lowers Employee Turnover
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