Matt Herman is the CEO of Enhance Health .
Recruiting and retaining great employees is an ongoing challenge for employers that has only been amplified by the pandemic.
Nearly 47 million Americans voluntarily left their jobs in 2022, and the Great Resignation isn't over. Analysis from Gartner found that employee annual voluntary turnover is likely to increase by 20%, starting in 2022 and continuing in the years to come. Employee retention is a top priority for many employers—but what can you do specifically to hire and keep valuable employees?
I believe you must create a work environment that emphasizes learning, development and culture. "Having opportunities to learn and grow" is the most important factor in what defines an exceptional work environment, according to research in LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report . Employees who give their culture a high rating are 25% more likely to be happy at work. And employees who feel their companies aren't using their skills well are 10 times more likely to be looking for a new job.
My company is in an exciting period of employee growth. In the last seven months, we've hired around 70% of our employees. Here are the three key strategies we are deploying to curb turnover and keep our team happy and engaged.
1. Widen your hiring pool, and offer extensive employee training.
It's a common mistake to recruit only candidates who have years of experience in your industry. This approach narrows your hiring pool and can lead you to overlook smart, motivated candidates who simply need more knowledge and training. Broaden your search parameters, and stay open to hiring people from a range of experiences and backgrounds.
In the insurance industry, many agencies only want licensed agents to join their teams. But I've found that recruiting and training newcomers to the field is a much more successful strategy. In our company, we open the aperture and intentionally recruit employees who have no insurance or sales experience.
We put candidates through a rigorous HR process to make sure they are a good fit for our company, then they complete an intensive 60-hour pre-licensing course and a week-long employee training. At the end of this initial education period, new hires are well-versed in topics such as sales best practices, health insurance basics, the Affordable Care Act and the rules and regulations of being a licensed agent. Our employees have about a 92% pass rate on the state licensing exam—and they don't have any of the bad habits they might have learned working in other agencies.
2. Provide ongoing professional development and "whole-self" education.
Employee education shouldn't end after a new hire's orientation, nor should it be limited to their current job responsibilities. Offer ongoing training for employees to hone their professional skills and advance their careers. And remember that your team members are more than just their jobs. Look for opportunities to provide more holistic education, such as resources that help them manage their finances or cope with stress.
For example, we offer an employee training session at least once a month, where we cover topics related to customer relations, including listening, tonality and objections and rebuttals. We also use an AI software that listens and guides customer calls, helping agents learn, practice and repeat messages that set them up for success. We also host optional weekend classes designed to help employees improve other areas of their lives—such as how to fix bad credit or how to become a first-time homebuyer—and show that we care about them as individuals.
I believe employee education should have clear benefits for both the individual and the company. If our employees are motivated to pay attention and learn as much as they can, they are more likely to improve their sales, their income and their overall happiness. The better they do, the more satisfied and engaged they are, and the better our overall retention is. It's a win-win for everyone.
3. Build your HR department before you think you need one.
Culture is essential to creating a positive work environment, and HR is the place where good culture starts. Don't fall for the misconception that you don't need HR just yet, or you'll worry about it when you get to a certain level of growth. Build your HR department early on. Your organization needs a dedicated team of HR professionals to keep employees safe, respected and satisfied.
Healthy relationships contribute to healthy culture. I've seen firsthand that putting the right people in HR sets the tone for the entire organization. They are responsible for recruiting, onboarding and training employees, as well as addressing problems and facilitating good communication. Establishing an effective HR department is a necessity, not an afterthought.
Finding and retaining top talent doesn't happen overnight. It requires intentional planning and continuous effort, but the payoff is more than worth the investment.
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