Ignoring your employee surveys? Don't expect people to stick around

Chief people officer at Finder talks about how to use employee feedback to stem the talent shortage

Ignoring your employee surveys? Don't expect people to stick around

With the “great reshuffle” well and truly underway, engagement is more important than ever before. To stop a mass exodus, one chief people officer believes it’s time to start looking at people as “individuals” and not a collective. 

In a recent HRD exclusive, Shanyn Payne, chief people officer at global fintech giant Finder, explains that employers that want to hold on to their top talent need to set aside the one-size-fits-all approach to employee experience – because it simply doesn’t work.

“My really strong belief is seeing employees as humans, and really taking the time to consider these individuals — rather than trying to force in a one-size-fits-all approach,” she says. “We’re complex human beings with complex needs. And yet, as organizations, we often try to put in this policy to try and control people and make our lives easier.”

At Finder, and her other businesses, Payne says they’ve been looking at setting guidelines rather than policies. By helping managers have open conversations with their direct teams, it empowers people to make the right decisions.

“It can be really messy, but again, it's the human way of doing it,” she tells HRD. “Where you're actually considering each person’s needs and balancing that with the organization’s as well, the number one thing to do is look at those policies and question whether you're coming from that human lens.”

Stop ignoring employee engagement data

And while employers often tout the importance of open dialogue and employee engagement surveys, if they’re not acted upon, then they can do more harm than good. A recent report from Officevibe found that 25% of managers think employee surveys are “useless”, labelling them a “tick-box” exercise, while the average response rate for underperforming surveys sits at a mere 30%.

Why? Well because employees don’t always trust managers to follow through on their survey data.

“I would always say, ‘Don't bother running a survey unless you're going to put in actions after them,’” says Payne. “Because then it will just reduce your participation next time. People will [think] you’re over-promising, under-delivering, and end up not feeling heard.

“It’s absolutely imperative that you feed back to employees the results of those surveys with any associated actions afterwards. Even if it's only one or two actions — you don't need to address every single thing, you might just choose the top two things. However, that’s most important thing that organizations can do if they’re going to all the trouble of gathering that feedback in the first place.”

Money is important – but it’s not the main driver

Secondary to not listening to feedback, one of the main reasons for the ongoing talent shift is simple – money. With the ongoing economic uncertainty coupled with rising inflation and a cost of living crisis, employees are understandably craving more dollar for the time. And while data from Robert Half found that half of employers plan to offer some sort of pay rise this year, for many organizations, layoffs and stagnant salaries are the reality. 

However, as Payne notes, money will rarely be the sole reason a person leaves a company – more often than not it’s merged with a lack of appreciation.

“They will leave for money if there is a much better offer out there,” she says. “But again, if they feel valued, it’s shown to actually be the second or third factor - not the number one driver. As long as you've got that hygiene factor there. In tech, working with software engineers and product managers, certainly not working on exciting projects or not feeling listened to or adding value can drive attrition.

“It still holds that a bad leader is a very common reason why people leave. I also think what we're seeing happen a bit more now is if an employee doesn't feel like they're working for a business that aligns with their own values and sense of purpose. People are really searching for meaning in their work right now.”

Retention strategies that work

But once you have the talent, how on earth do you keep it? All too often, retentions strategies are set up as a curative measure – something that’s done quickly after a sudden mass exodus. Instead, employers need to think of this as a preventative initiative in 2023 – don’t wait for the employee to hand their notice in before you start showing some appreciation.

“We know remuneration is a hygiene factor,” says Payne, referring to the theory developed by psychologist Frederick Herzberg. “I think it's important to have a really strong remuneration framework in place. Make sure that you're benchmarking people's salaries, that you’re paying people fair market rates. People want to be paid fairly, and if they perceive unfairness, either to other similar roles, externally or even roles internally, we know that that drives attrition.”

From there, Payne suggests investing in a career development plan – something that’s become an essential tool in beating turnover in the past few months. According to data from Gallup, 57% of employees want to update their current skill set – with 48% of workers willing change jobs in order to do it.

But you don’t have the break the bank in your L&D programs – in fact, they can be fairly simple and inexpensive.

“Career development doesn't need to be fancy or expensive,” says Payne. “It doesn't need to be that you're sending someone on a really expensive course or that you're paying for their postgraduate degree. Things like mentoring programs have been shown, time and time again, to be one of the most effective ways to develop your employees.

“Through some time and effort, it can actually cost nothing to implement within an organization. It’s all about managers having regular conversations with employees about their career and about their development.”

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