Getting Ahead of Attrition Through Career Equity and Recognition

BY Keren Dinkin | February 08, 2024

In the age of hybrid work and digital transformation, companies face the challenge of meeting rising employee expectations despite strained profits. Aside from wages, how might companies ensure that their employees’ needs are being met?

At From Day One’s recent Atlanta conference, Jeff Cates, CEO of Achievers and Kumari Williams, VP of belonging and diversity at Workday, discussed exactly this. 

According to research from Achievers, the number of people who are job searching in 2024 is going up by 10%. For most people, the number one consideration is wage, which makes sense given today’s cost of living and expenses.

How do we solve the wage problem when most organizations are actually looking to reduce wage increases this year? Research shows that on average, in the U.S., employers are looking at wage increases of about 3.9% in 2024 compared to 4.4% last year.

Emotional salary supports retention. Two-thirds of individuals reported that if they felt supported and connected at an organization, they would take that over a 30% increase in wage.

This cultural environment fosters a strong sense of belonging, increasing the likelihood of individuals pursuing long-term careers within their organization. Belonging creates the difference between ‘I work at an organization’ versus ‘I’m connected; I have a career at this organization.’

Creating a sense of belonging is ultimately what helps create the stickiness that can help offset the lure of wages. For Williams, belonging is an output of inclusivity—and building inclusive spaces and inclusive leaders are the cornerstone workplace belonging.

“It’s even a KPI for our organization. And so at the highest level in the organization, we are focused on increasing belonging, not just maintaining it,” she said.

Williams, left, and Cates, right, led a thought leadership spotlight titled “Getting Ahead of Attrition Through Career Equity and Recognition, Using HR Tech” (photo by Dustin Chambers for From Day One)

So, how do you create an environment where people feel connected and fulfilled? At Achievers, equity and transparency are vital in creating employee-friendly talent practices. “Individuals that report a feeling of career equity are two times more likely to not job hunt,” Cates said.

One key area where they dialed in on transparency was performance ratings, where workmates were free to share performance ratings as well as their ratings from a potential standpoint and how they could do better, he says.

It’s time to shift the idea of recognition from a reward to a sustainable practice that nudges people forward. It’s not just about using money (but you can, in small doses), but about using recognition to drive behavior, Cates says. It’s also important to use data to draw relevant insights regarding employee performance and how recognition can further propel that.

“It’s really when we think about recognition that’s not tied to the monetary that we can drive behavior—and if we are going to use monetary rewards, then it should be used in very small doses,” said Cates.

When you think about all the things you can do that drive behavior, such as recognition, gamification, and things that create a sense of accomplishment, it’s important to note that even micro-nudging or micro-rewarding can add up to help build positive habits. By helping to create habits and drive behavior, you can really drive scalable impact on how people feel. By accomplishing smaller tasks and micro-rewarding, you help people achieve a sense of fulfillment and action.

It also comes down to leadership accountability. “Oftentimes, we’re focused on the message at the top of our organizations and making sure that our executives are aware of what we're trying to drive,” said Williams, “and it just doesn't permeate the layers in the middle.”

For Williams, being intentional about how you drive accountability among leaders in the middle of the organization is essential so that they can carry the work forward. Most of your employees’ experience is shaped by your middle managers, not the executives, she says.

Staying competitive in the job market and reducing attrition is challenging, especially now that employees are increasingly focused on finding better wages. However, the one thing that employees do value more than higher wages is company culture, particularly a sense of belonging where they see a path forward career-wise, where they’re being recognized, and feel that they are seen and heard.

Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Achievers, for sponsoring this thought leadership spotlight.

Keren's love for words saw her transition from a corporate employee into a freelance writer during the pandemic. When she is not at her desk whipping up compelling narratives and sipping on endless cups of coffee, you can find her curled up with a book, playing with her dog, or pottering about in the garden.


RELATED STORIES

Sharing Their Truths: Working Parents Reveal the Benefits That Matter Most

Each year, HR leaders ask themselves: What benefits do my employees want? And what will provide me the most ROI? But many are left without answers.In a recent survey of 2,000 working parents conducted by Ovia Health, 62% said that their employers are not family friendly enough.The need for family friendly benefits is clear. Additionally, 94% said family benefits are a top priority and 73% said they would consider making a lateral move to another organization that offered better benefits and a family-friendly culture.In a From Day One webinar, Corrinne Hobbs, general manager and vice president, employer market organization at Ovia Health, discussed the results of the survey. Hobbs offered insight on current benefits offerings, where more support is needed, and what matters most to employees. Family Benefits That Match Today’s Culture“Women’s health benefits are one of the fastest growing segments within healthcare,” Hobbs said.  This is due to changing circumstances during and post-pandemic as more and more workers experienced shifting work-life balance due to hybrid schedules. It’s also due to the increasing range of types of families that need to be accounted for as lifestyles become more diverse. In this current marketplace, “employees have more control and more power than they have had in the past,” said moderator Siobhan O’Connor, chief content officer at Atria Institute. Therefore, it’s even more critical that employers make sure these specific needs are being served.While most companies do offer some family benefits, Hobbs says, there is often a disconnect between perceived needs and actual needs of employees. “There’s a strong push for employees to have better fertility benefits in their workplace. And 38% of respondents said that they’re looking for their employer to provide alternate family planning support,” Hobbs said. This is especially true with more and more single by choice or LGBTQIA+ parents in the workforce, and an overall trend of people waiting until later in life to have children. Unfortunately, many workplaces do not offer benefits to cover the costs of these services, which can be exorbitant.Siobhan O'Connor of Atria Institute interviewed Corrinne Hobbs of Ovia Health during the webinar on family-friendly benefits (photo by From Day One)Incorporating these benefits helps build an overall inclusive corporate culture and can be a way to help retain senior level female employees. Additionally, 83% of respondents said that perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms affect their ability to work, but only 1% receive benefits to help with those symptoms, says Hobbs. In order to “make sure that whatever you’re providing is equitable and inclusive all around,” a diverse range of age and gender must also be factors incorporated into a comprehensive benefits plan.Providing Better Family BenefitsWith family benefits top of mind for employees, Hobbs says there is a clear way forward for organizations looking to provide better care. The most important, according to respondents, is family leave. Hobbs advises: “Make sure that it’s paid, that it’s for at least four months, that it’s inclusive to both parents and that you don’t have to dip into your sick leave or your PTO before taking leave. That is a stress factor for many.” And employers must account for alternate pathways to parenthood, such as adoption, which might entail different costs or timeframes, she says.Hobbs says employers should not only plan for parental leave, but also for parental return. One way to do this is by setting up a return-to-work program to make it easier for parents to re-enter the workforce, noting that it’s a smarter investment than having to endure the cost of hiring someone new. Gradual part-time schedules can ease the burden on stressed parents, as can accommodating PTO policies, flex time, and hybrid or work from home options.Additionally, managers need to be prepped on how to work with returning parents. “A manager training program to ensure a family friendly workplace and ensure that people are able to bring their full selves to work without fear of repercussions is critical,” Hobbs said. ERG support groups can also provide a sense of community support within the workplace.Incorporating Digital Healthcare and AdvocacyOvia Health uses predictive analytics to power millions of members’ care and engagement with their health. Such apps can help provide crucial education about health symptoms, Hobbs says. For example, 85% of respondents said they don’t know much about menopause and how it may affect their performance. Ovia can help fill that gap through online resources, and also provide peer support groups. “We have a community wall where people with uteruses can talk about symptoms together and really feel a sense of community and commonality with others who are going through some of the [same] things,” Hobbs said. Finally, Ovia can also match employees with proper treatment.Using health assessments and surveys, Ovia gets to know its users and can provide highly personalized information to current, expecting, or potential parents. Health alerts will pop up based on users’ reported symptoms, and the app even provides proactive healthcare outreach to guide users through any bumps on their fertility journey.“Digital solutions offer round the clock access, education, and opportunities to really delve deeper into topics,” Hobbs said. “And they also come with advocacy, helping you navigate and understand these complex situations.” The app accounts for a wide variety of families and lifestyles, helping employers provide better care to a diverse workforce. “We have 50+ personalized clinical pathways and programs to support women and families, and then we personalize the experience for each member based on the dynamic health assessments and digital symptom report,” Hobbs said, describing the data-driven service as “person-centered care.”Hobbs says that while women have increasingly reached the upper echelons of the corporate world in recent years, women’s participation in the labor market is currently at a 33-year low. Having a family-friendly workplace can help ensure talented women stay on. “It costs upwards of $75,000 to replace an employee,” Hobbs said. By offering a diverse suite of benefits companies can retain top talent, encourage a more diverse workforce, and save money in the process.Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, Ovia Health, for sponsoring this webinar. Katie Chambers is a freelance writer and award-winning communications executive with a lifelong commitment to supporting artists and advocating for inclusion. Her work has been seen in HuffPost and several printed essay collections, among others, and she has appeared on Cheddar News, iWomanTV, and CBS New York.

Katie Chambers | April 10, 2024

How to Measure Employee Engagement and Spot Disengagement

When we think about engagement, we think about all of the different ways that we track engagement consciously and subconsciously. In some ways, we track engagement by just realizing things, like who’s on camera during meetings online, who has a green dot next to their name, and who has a yellow dot next to their name. These are all of the different ways to subconsciously track engagement, but there are biases in each observation because context is key. Just because a person is off camera doesn’t mean they’re less engaged. They might be in a crowded spot or have a background that’s distracting, so they’ve elected to be off-camera. Or maybe their WiFi just isn’t as strong as it needs to be on that particular day.Regardless of the industry or nature of business, maintaining a high level of team productivity is crucial, and disengagement can be a significant obstacle. Learning to recognize the signs of employee disengagement early is key to preventing its negative impact. In a recent From Day One webinar led by ActivTrak colleagues, Gabriella Mauch, VP of Productivity Lab, and Javier Aldrete, SVP of product, the speakers discussed how boosting self-awareness and manager coaching can help address disengagement before employees check out.Gabriela Mauch, pictured, led the webinar alongside colleague Javier Aldrete (company photo)We’re making all these subconscious assumptions about engagement because we know that engagement leads to great results, says Mauch. But disengagement, on the flip side, leads to harmful attrition. As such, it’s important that we find better ways to track engagement so that we can drive to a healthy work environment. Mauch shares that only 23% of employees are fully engaged in their work, leaving over 75% of employees at risk of disengagement. This can cost organizations a significant amount of money, both from an attrition standpoint, a knowledge management standpoint, and the productivity they’re not necessarily getting out of their business. The benefit of addressing employee disengagement is the ability to get a better return on workforce investments. Organizations can see up to 40% improvement in employee churn and burnout rates, plus an opportunity to gain 15% to 25% in productivity when disengagement is addressed effectively, says Mauch. “So often, disengagement and quiet quitting is a function of that individual not being properly aligned to their work, not being properly coached by their manager, or not being properly guided by their leadership team,” said Mauch. It’s  important to learn how to use insights to better inform leaders, managers, and individuals to be more thoughtful about productivity and more engaged in the work being done. As such, it’s important to have measurable indicators into our work environment. This means understanding when we have individuals performing with low focus, low working hours, and perhaps very passive participation. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the individual doesn't want to be working. Instead, there’s an opportunity to coach and guide the employee to work the right way, on the right things, at the right time. Mauch encourages employers to be thoughtful about employee behavior as a helpful indicator of engagement. This means observing things like people coming into the office, badging in, and leaving two hours later merely to show their faces. This could be because while they are expected to be in office, they might actually be more productive at home. The final thing to note is whether or not employees are making the impact you expect them to be making. Here are some questions to ask: Are they putting in the productivity that you would expect? Are you getting the output that you expect to earn, and are you ultimately getting the revenue that you would expect? By collecting insights on an ongoing basis, you can gain a level of understanding of engagement on an ongoing basis. Additionally, leaders need to identify the factors that are contributing to employee disengagement and quiet quitting in their particular context, as well as invest in measures to improve them.Editor's note: From Day One thanks our partner, ActivTrak, for sponsoring this webinar. Keren's love for words saw her transition from a corporate employee into a freelance writer during the pandemic. When she is not at her desk whipping up compelling narratives and sipping on endless cups of coffee, you can find her curled up with a book, playing with her dog, or pottering about in the garden.

Keren Dinkin | April 09, 2024

The Gender Penalty: Addressing Workplace Inequity

Studies show that despite recent movements for equal pay, no significant gender pay gap has been made in the last two decades. Women are still earning less than men, with some variance as high as 22%.But the discrimination extends far beyond just the pay gap: from childbirth to menopause, women are also discriminated against for their life choices and in some cases, life stages, with  42% of working women reporting facing gender discrimination at their workplace.In a From Day One webinar, Lydia Dishman, senior editor of growth and engagement at Fast Company, moderated a discussion among women in roles of leadership on how to achieve equality in the workplace.Studies show that women are 41% more likely to experience toxic workplace culture than men, underlining the need for a culture revamp in companies.According to recent research, one in three working parents stated they lacked access to a reliable workplace lactation location. The disparity shows that offering solutions is far more than checking off boxes, Teresa Hopke, CEO of Talking Talent said.“Having a pumping room is a checkbox. So even if we check the box and we get the right rooms and accommodations for people, that’s not going to move the needle in the way that we need to in terms of the systemic change that needs to take place,” Hopke said.For change, both workers and leaders need to be actively working to create the shift that they need, Hopke says.Speakers from Talking Talent and KPMG joined moderated Lydia Dishman in a discussion about the role of gender in the workplace (photo by From Day One)“There is some hard work that organizations need to do to create the right culture with the right mindsets, behaviors, conditions, and structures that will support women as they advance through their careers,” Hopke said. “There is also work that women need to do to articulate their needs and not suffer in silence when the load gets too hard.”When asked about allyship, seventy-seven percent of white employees consider themselves allies to women of color. However, far fewer replied to actively participating in allyship, with only 39 percent stating they confront discrimination when they see it, and 21 percent stating they advocate for new opportunities for women of color.“If you are not taking any of those ally actions regularly, you’re not moving things forward in a positive way,” Marcee Harris Schwartz, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at KPMG, said. “We have to think about how we activate allyship whether that’s taking someone under your wing who comes from a different background or experiences so that it has an impact.”When asked about biases at work, 83% of employees stated that the biases they experienced were subtle and indirect. In one work case, Renu Sachdeva, head of client solutions at Talking Talent, found this to be true.“We asked leaders to pick people to actively sponsor who belonged to these identity groups. And when the results came back in, we found a majority of them had selected white women, the next most selected group was men of color, and the least selected group was women of color,” Sachdeva said.The findings weren’t surprising, Sachdeva says. Research has found that white people demonstrate a clear bias for other white people, affecting workplace processes from hiring to promotion. Challenging biases is key to moving allyship in the right direction, Sachdeva said.“If you’re talking about the majority, corporate America is usually white men in most organizations, so the highest level of comfort tends to be with white women because there’s a relational aspect to it,” Sachdeva said. “But with intentionality, we need to consciously choose to connect with [different] people to mentor, sponsor or be an ally to because that’s usually the group that gets the most overlooked and left behind.”Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, Talking Talent, for sponsoring this webinar.Wanly Chen is a writer and poet based in New York City.

Wanly Chen | April 08, 2024