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Solving the Problem of Retention through HR Technology
Sanjay Sathe
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
The number of employers who believe that employee retention is a problem has doubled in the last 6 years, putting concern about retention on the majority of employers' minds. And because the economy has picked up again and the job market has become favorable to the job seeker, job-hopping and turnover will only continue to increase.

Employers are rightfully concerned: replacing employees can cost about 50-60 percent of that employee's salary, and lost productivity, onboarding time, and the potential for a wrong fit with a need to rehire can contribute to further costs. This can be a terrific blow to the bottom line, especially in industries or areas where top talent is particularly valuable and hard to find. So, taking measures to engage and retain employees is not only a good idea, it's an imperative. How can employers best promote a culture of retention? While no one can force an employee to stay, HR leaders can help foster a culture of retention through the strategic use of HR technology.

Technology for Onboarding
There has been an increasing emphasis on the 'candidate experience' in recruiting over the past several years, but I would argue that we can't stop at just optimizing the technology we use for entering a potential candidate into our systems:

HR needs to focus dually on the candidate experience and the employee experience, the latter of which starts when the employee signs the hiring agreement and shows up on the first day of work.

About one third of people who began their jobs less than six months ago are already searching for a new job. Why should such a large number of people-people who were most likely enthusiastic about being hired-begin planning their exit so soon after they signed the paperwork?

There's a chance that the company culture or job description did not live up to initial expectations, but it is also safe to assume that many of these early exits can be attributed to a sub-par onboarding process.

Two thirds of employers deliver less than 40 percent of their onboarding process through technology. This is not just employee orientation, but also the ongoing process of introducing the employee to the company culture, setting goals, and beginning to foster employee development. Technology can help standardize and improve the efficiency of this process. This is a great asset because organizations with standardized onboarding processes increase their new hires- productivity by 54 percent and encourage retention by about 50 percent.

Technology 'good technology' can help improve onboarding by consolidating the process and allowing all of the owners, from recruiters to HR to direct managers, to stay in contact with one another and the employee and be held accountable for positive results.

Technology for Engagement
There's a reason that 'employee engagement' is a hot-button topic in the HR space today: according to Gallup, companies with engaged employees outperform those with disengaged employees by 202 percent. Beyond the direct impact that engagement can have on productivity, sales, and revenue, it also affects turnover. Engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their jobs than disengaged employees, which is a staggering statistic when you consider how much turnover costs companies each year (and depending on the size of your business, turnover that high can cost tens of thousands to millions of dollars). Therefore, it is especially worrisome that 86 percent of organizations say that they are struggling with employee engagement.

Technology, when strategically purchased and properly introduced and implemented, can do a tremendous service to the organization in terms of increasing engagement. There are hundreds of companies now in existence because of this need-technology that fosters the creation and sustention of recognition programs, allows employees to better engage with one another through internal social media, makes learning management and career development accessible and measurable, and so much more.

While the path to 'engagement' will look different for each individual company, one thing holds true across the board: The easier it is for employees to find and use the tools you provide them for engaging with your company, the easier it will be to encourage those employees to remain happily in their roles.

Technology for Outplacement and Redeployment
One vastly overlooked area of opportunity for retention in HR is the layoff. Even in our improving economy, layoffs continue to occur-due to a number of factors, such as cyclical economic dips in industries like oil and gas and a rise in mergers and acquisitions in industries like health care.
Layoffs sometimes lead to decreased productivity and retention among non-impacted employees, as the morale drops and those employees begin to worry about their own careers, as well as the future of their former colleagues.

A good outplacement program can help an organization show its retained employees that it has all of its employees- best interests at heart. As the CEO of a company that has created an outplacement solution that utilizes a proprietary job-matching technology and virtual platform for service delivery-as well as a former employee who has gone through a non-technology-based outplacement program myself-I know firsthand how important having a thoughtfully-constructed technology layer to boost the efficiency of service delivery in an outplacement program can be to helping employees transition fast.

When retained employees see that their former colleagues are not only being taken care of in name, but actually being taken care of-and that the company has a structure and safety net in place for remaining employees, it can go a long way toward boosting morale and reinvigorating the company.

Even more useful for retention is redeployment, or 'in-placement,' which again can be aided by outplacement technology. Because many large organizations may not be holding layoffs across the board and may, in fact, be hiring in other departments or divisions of the company, redeployment can help those companies save money in recruiting, onboarding, and potential turnover by putting former employees back to work within the company before they ever leave.

Redeployment technology leverages outplacement technology to prepare an employee to apply and interview for an internal position, as opposed to one outside of the company. It can be offered even before the employee commences an external search or offered alongside regular outplacement services.

At RiseSmart, my company, we use technology to streamline our services; improve the job leads sent by our Job Concierges to participants; offer customized redeployment solutions to put employees back to work at their own companies; and reach our participants virtually, anytime and anywhere; while also increasing the transparency, accountability, and accuracy of our processes and reporting to the organizations that engage our services.

I believe that technology has the potential to change the way we encourage retention at organizations of all sizes, but it takes a willingness to embrace and implement new and perhaps unfamiliar ideas about the practice of HR. What new technologies have you already put in place? Which are you willing and excited to explore?

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