Of all the challenges that HR (Human Resources) departments face, employee retention is one of the biggest. The actual cost of losing a good employee is difficult to calculate because it also means losing knowledge and experience.

Recruiting, interviewing, and training are costly, both in terms of time and financial resources. Losing one valuable employee can also create a chain reaction of negative events that can lead to more losses.

Group morale suffers as other employees have to take on extra duties, resulting in overwork that can lead to costly errors.

Three of the most common reasons that employees quit are workplace safety issues, a lack of professional development, and compensation issues.


Workplace Safety Issues

Many workplace safety issues that cause employees to quit, or worse, file lawsuits, can be prevented by ensuring that employees have the right training and tools for the job.

Tools manufactured using high quality materials are less likely to break or malfunction. All tools should be inspected regularly for wear and the results of those inspections entered into a maintenance log.

The maintenance log should contain dates for each tool to receive regular maintenance.

If an inspection reveals that a tool is in need of repair it should immediately be removed from operations until such repairs have been made and documented.

Failure to perform regular inspections can result in serious injuries or even death. In one such case, a crane toppled over, killing the operator.

A wrongful death lawsuit was filed, charging inadequate inspection of the crane, and a jury awarded surviving family members $5.5 million.

Any safety concerns expressed by employees should be immediately addressed to avoid injuries as well as formal complaints to government regulatory agencies.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Houston company Eustis Cable Enterprises for firing an employee who complained about his lack of training and certification to operate a forklift and improperly secured propane tanks.


Professional Development

Human beings naturally want to make meaningful contributions to their families and communities. They want to feel that they are achieving their full potential.

Unfortunately, many employees don't feel that their skills and abilities are being developed and utilized to the fullest.

In a recent survey by Global Market Institute Inc. 5,000 full and part time international workers were asked what their bosses could do differently to increase job satisfaction.

39% responded with the phrase “use my skills and abilities” and over 25% responded with “encourage my development”.

To more fully engage employees, work should provide opportunities for learning and practicing new skills.

There are some things that even companies without sufficient resources to provide tuition reimbursement for further education can do. One great strategy is creating and implementing a company mentoring system.

Job shadowing is a good way to cross-train employees so that they are able to perform several job functions instead of just one. Job rotation involving temporary assignments to other departments is another.

Cross-training employees not only provides them with the opportunity to develop and utilize a greater number of skills, which makes their jobs more interesting, but benefits the company as well.

Productivity is less affected when someone goes on vacation or calls in sick if several people can perform their duties while they're away.


Related: How To Grow Your List of Business Prospects


Compensation Issues

According to an article in Forbes, companies that create a culture of recognition have turnover rates as much as 31% lower than those who don't.

Studies also show that recognition and appreciation from co-workers is even more important to employees than recognition from a boss or manager.

That may be because our peers see us in action more often, and our actions are more likely to affect them directly.

Public appreciation for a job well done is such a cost-effective employee retention strategy that many companies are creating and implementing recognition programs.

Some use leaderboards that can be seen by everyone and points that can be given out by anyone. Creating a direct visual link between effort and recognition can be powerful motivation for positive action.

While appreciation is one good form of compensation, employers are coming up with more creative compensation strategies.

With the rising cost of education, one of those strategies is offering student loan debt repayment for recent graduates. The better you know your employees, the more creative, and cost effective, your strategies can be.

Allowing trusted employees to work from home occasionally can create employee loyalty, especially for employees with young children. Flexible work hours to accommodate family obligations are also appreciated.

Maintaining workplace safety is non-negotiable. It's the foundation upon which every successful business is built.

However, knowing what your employees values most – and utilizing that knowledge to negotiate personalized, cost-effective compensation packages – is the best way to keep those that join your team playing their best for years to come.

What are your experiences with these common HR problems?


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