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How employee engagement can help reduce turnover and drive retention

Group of employees standing talking around a boardroom table

Employee retention is so much more than just a metric. It’s a testament to people’s feeling of commitment, engagement, and enjoyment when it comes to their work. As a result, high levels of employee retention can signal a strong business and company culture. 

For many employers, turnover remains a considerable challenge. In 2022, 35% of hiring decisions-makers reported higher turnover rates1a 9% increase from 2021 — and in a recent Robert Half survey of the workforce, half of those who responded expressed their intention to look for new employment opportunities in the year ahead.

Here’s a more detailed look at what’s driving this changeover in the workforce, and what companies can do to keep their talent happy.

Employee turnover costs companies in more ways than one.

When employees leave, it’s a loss on multiple levels. First, it suggests another organization had the resources and resolve to make them a better offer, which may not bode well for future recruitment efforts.

Second, the loss of an employee leaves a hole in the team that their co-workers might have to fill before a replacement can be found, which detracts from their own job satisfaction and impacts their work/life balance.

And third, as turnover takes a toll on the morale of the team members left behind, they may also start to evaluate other employment options available to them.

But the most immediately noticeable and measurable costs are monetary. According to one survey, lost productivity, subsequent recruitment initiatives, and other inefficiencies and expenditures related to turnover total an average of $41,000 per year, though this can range significantly based on the size and specific circumstances of the business. For example, larger companies are more likely to see costs in excess of $50,000 annually, with some reporting figures of $100,000 or more.

To counter the adverse effects of employee loss, there are actionable steps organizations can take to help increase their rates of employee retention.

Keeping your talent means keeping your talent happy.

A survey of human resources professionals shows that 86% believe providing better mental health support for employees can improve retention. At the same time, 88% and 76% see it as an effective way to bolster productivity and organizational return on investment, respectively.

And they’re right. Stress and anxiety have been on the rise in recent years due to circumstances beyond people’s control, such as the pandemic, geopolitical instability, and the rising cost of living.

Employers are taking note, too. Research conducted in 2020 showed that 95% of organizations surveyed were committed to maintaining or increasing their employee health and wellbeing initiatives over the next five years, while 4 out of 10 employers considered digital health benefits to be an important part of their retention strategies.

Such benefits provide two important incentives for employees to stay with their organization.  They empower employees to connect with medical professionals to help address their mental health concerns, while the on-demand flexibility of digital health services contributes to a better work-life balance, which continues to be a top priority for the workforce.

Without a concerted effort on the part of employers to retain their workforce, people may start to look elsewhere. A recent worker survey showed that job dissatisfaction increased substantially over the course of 2022 — 31% of respondents said they were looking or planning to look for a new role in the second half of the year. This corroborates research from PwC Global, which shows that one in five employees rate themselves as likely or very likely to switch employers in 2023.

A healthier lifestyle takes centre stage for the workforce.

Just how important is work-life balance for employees? One study shows that 58% consider it more important than financial compensation. Another 35% would prefer mental health benefits to higher pay or salary. And 28% place the highest value on ancillary services related to wellness, such as yoga and mediation.

Salary remains critical, of course, especially with inflation and the increasing cost of living. Data from Robert Half shows that 78% of workers cited salary as the dominant reason for accepting one job offer over another. Yet for almost half of respondents, benefits were also a top factor determining their decision.

All of this research demonstrates that when it comes to retention, companies would do well to focus on holistic support for employee health and wellbeing.

Benefits matter almost as much as salary.

Employees are serious about taking care of their health. Studies show they’re excited to embrace innovative digital solutions such as virtual care which make benefits accessible and personalized. When employees know that they’re cared for, they’re more likely to be happy and secure in their jobs, and have more reasons to stay.

These are the types of solutions provided by TELUS Health Virtual Care. The comprehensive digital health solution may enable team members to access their primary care and mental health needs virtually, 24/7.

Meanwhile, innovative platforms such as TELUS Health EAP allow one-click access to additional services to support multiple aspects of life — from child and elder care support, to nutritional coaching, to legal and financial advice — and TELUS Health Wellbeing lets employees take an app-based approach to help optimize and track their health.

These types of services and solutions help create a positive company culture where employees can stay and thrive in their positions.

Learn more about how TELUS Health can support employee engagement and drive retention in your organization here.