The 3 stages of employee retention
Editor’s note: This is a recurring column on veterinary staffing, recruitment, and workplace topics. See Stacy’s other columns about when the employee retention process actually begins and how onboarding is the first step in retention.
In today’s competitive market for talent, retaining your best employees is at least as important as hiring great new employees. In fact, the argument could be made that it’s even more important, considering that we’re still in the midst of the Great Resignation and there is hardly any stigma attached to job-hopping employees.
Since that’s the case, your practice should be prepared to put as much time, energy, and effort into retaining your employees as you do in hiring job candidates. The first step is recognizing that retaining your employees has three distinct stages—Early, middle, and late.
The unofficial start to your employee retention journey with your new hire is the interviewing and hiring process, because you won’t have the chance to retain a new employee unless they become an employee in the first place. This early stage of retention starts as soon as the candidate accepts your organization’s offer of employment.
The onboarding process that begins at this early stage is about more than getting the new employee “up to speed” on their duties and responsibilities. It’s also about reassuring them that they’ve made the correct decision in accepting your offer of employment by joining your organization.
Keep in mind that your early-stage retention efforts could overlap with their current employer’s late-stage efforts. This is because the job candidate you just hired is giving notice, and their employer is attempting to retain them with late-stage strategies, which I’ll address in just a minute.
This stage is quite possibly the most important of all for two main reasons: First, this is often the most neglected period in an employee’s tenure at an organization. They receive a lot of attention at the beginning of their employment and then again at the end, but once they’ve been successfully onboarded and you don’t think they’re a flight risk, they might not receive as much attention.
The second reason is because it’s difficult to pinpoint how long the middle stage will last. It varies from situation to situation and person to person. This is like trying to predict exactly when an employee is going to quit. Usually, you don’t know that an employee is thinking about quitting until they actually do.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many things you can do at this stage, especially if the employee has already accepted another offer and given their notice. The most obvious strategy during late-stage retention is making a counteroffer. Because we’re in a candidates’ market and talent is in short supply, counteroffers are becoming more common. Employers are using them as a de facto retention strategy in ways they haven’t before.
This is where your early-stage retention efforts can overlap another’s late-stage efforts. While you are trying to successfully onboard your new hire, the candidate’s current employer is attempting to keep them with a counteroffer at the same time. Another late-stage retention strategy is a longer resignation bonus—which isn’t really a retention strategy, per se, because the employee is ultimately going to leave. However, depending upon the caliber of the employee and the position they’re leaving, you may want to reward them for a longer resignation period.
The big takeaway is, without the proper investment of time, energy, and resources, your practice could be hampering your retention efforts by not engaging your employees more fully and keeping them satisfied enough that they want to stay throughout all stages of their time at your organization.
Stacy Pursell is a Certified Employment Retention Specialist and Certified Personnel Consultant with more than 25 years of executive search and recruiting experience in the animal health industry and veterinary profession. Reach out to Stacy at thevetrecruiter.com.
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