Employee Turnover: Push vs Pull Factors

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In today’s dynamic and competitive business landscape where a stable and motivated workforce is the goal, staff turnover has become a thorn in HR’s side. The ebb and flow of talent within a company can be attributed to a myriad of reasons which can be broadly categorised as push and pull factors. Understanding these is essential for HR professionals seeking to enhance employee retention and foster a thriving work environment.

Push Factors: The internal nudges

Push factors are those internal elements within a company that create a sense of dissatisfaction or restlessness among employees. These are the proverbial nudges that push them towards considering opportunities elsewhere and eventually jumping ship. The rate of voluntary turnover can provide a real insight into how healthy the organisational culture is. By understanding what the push factors are that prompt employees to quit, HR can use these as action points to help improve the organisational culture, reduce turnover, and influence employees to remain – and thrive – in their roles. Here are some of the primary factors that could prompt an exodus from your business.

Inadequate compensation

Of course, employees expect fair compensation for their efforts but when salaries and benefits fail to align with industry standards or employee expectations, it follows that individuals are more likely to explore external options that offer better remuneration.

Stagnant growth prospects

A lack of clear career development pathways can lead to frustration and stagnation among employees. When workers perceive limited opportunities for advancement, they are more susceptible to the lure of organisations promising professional growth. According to a 2021 Gallup survey, 66 per cent of workers ages 18-24 said that learning new skills was the third-most important perk when considering new jobs.

Poor leadership

Effective leadership is the bedrock of a healthy work environment. Push factors are amplified in the presence of toxic or ineffective leadership, leading employees to seek workplaces where their talents are nurtured, and their voices heard. What’s more, studies show that the average cost to replace a highly skilled employee is 213% of their annual salary.

Worries over work-life balance

Modern employees value work-life balance as a crucial aspect of their job satisfaction and failing to recognise this may well materialise as a push factor as employees seek environments that better accommodate their personal lives. Employers that minimise the importance of this are likely to see their people look for organisations that prioritise wellbeing.

Pull factors: The external allure

Pull factors are those external enticements that lure employees away from their current positions. These factors often arise from opportunities outside the organisation and much like the push factors, these can include attractive employee benefits packages, a firm focus on work-life balance, and enhanced job satisfaction to name a few.

Competitive compensation

Organisations that offer above-average compensation packages and attractive benefits can easily draw talent from other companies. Competitive salaries are a powerful pull factor that can sway employees to make the switch. Time and again research shows that having a robust employee benefits strategy in place can attract a higher grade of candidate, and in the current climate of high inflation, cost of living increases and economic instability, this has become even more important. Randstad’s Workmonitor HR Trends Report 2022 found that more than half (53%) of those surveyed want a salary increase on top of any usual pay increases they might receive. Employers who respond to these demands are likely to see improved retention rates.

Better work-life balance

In an era where the line between work and personal life is increasingly blurred, companies that prioritise work-life balance hold a distinct advantage. Employees are drawn to organisations that value their wellbeing beyond just their professional contributions. The CIPD Wellbeing at Work 2022 report suggests that employee wellbeing has been gradually rising the corporate agenda in response to the increased need to prevent employee burnout and protect workers’ mental health and general wellbeing. Having a strategy in place is now a must-have factor for employees. This can include creating a flexible working policy, increasing the number of hybrid working opportunities in the organisation, creating a four-day week, allowing remote working, or even considering things like half days on Friday, summer hours and extended lunches.

Similarly, putting an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in place which can provide in-the-moment support for a range of issues, from financial advice and parenting to mental health interventions, counselling and even therapy can provide a cushion for employees who might already be dealing with personal issues.

Job satisfaction

A fulfilling and engaging work environment is a potent pull factor. When employees feel their contributions are making a meaningful impact and their skills are being utilised effectively, they are less likely to look elsewhere. HR should conduct pulse surveys to measure the general mood of the workforce and see if there are areas that can be improved. Asking employees for their input is an effective way to show that they matter and that the company is committed to enhancing the culture and employee experience.

How can HR mitigate turnover?

To address both push and pull factors, HR must adopt comprehensive strategies that prioritise employee wellbeing, growth, and satisfaction. Measuring turnover by analysing HR administration data on resignations, reference requests, dismissals, retirements, redundancies, and so on can give optics on some of the reasons employees may be heading for pastures new. Here are some of the ways that HR can mitigate turnover.

Enhance company culture

From a broad perspective, cultivating a positive and inclusive company culture can counteract push factors by promoting employee engagement and loyalty. A supportive culture fosters a sense of belonging and purpose, reducing the urge to explore external options. When people are happy to turn up to work, they will be more productive and invest in the organisation. Things like employee recognition programmes that underpin the company purpose, mission, and values, can be the litmus test for how happy and engaged your people are and give them a platform to express what they like – and what can be improved in the organisation.

Offer career development programmes

Establishing robust career development programmes allows employees to envision a clear growth trajectory and demonstrates that the company is invested in their professional advancement, minimising the pull of external opportunities. The same can also be said for providing skills development and putting mentoring schemes in place to help experienced workers share their knowledge and expertise with younger employees. This also provides a sense of belonging, and as people invest more deeply in the organisation, they are less likely to quit, in fact, Randstad found that employees who participated in mentoring programs were 49% less likely to leave their organisation.

Conducting stay interviews

HR is all too familiar with the exit interview, but the stay interview is an incredibly effective tool for identifying and addressing push factors. Regular conversations with employees provide insights into their concerns, allowing HR teams to take proactive measures to enhance job satisfaction. Not only will it provide valuable data to shape current practices, but it can throw up ideas for new ways of engaging employees and remind them that they are valued and are incremental to the success of the organisation.

Strengthening employee engagement efforts

Engaged employees are more likely to resist external temptations. Regular feedback mechanisms, recognition programmes, and open communication channels contribute to higher job satisfaction and employee retention. In fact, according to stats from Hubspot, 68% of employees want more feedback and those companies that do feature regular feedback sessions see 14.9% lower employee turnover rates than those who don’t.

Clearly, employee turnover is a multifaceted challenge that requires a deep understanding of both push and pull factors. By addressing internal dissatisfactions and capitalising on external opportunities, organisations can create a talent management strategy that will reduce voluntary turnover and create an environment that not only attracts fresh talent but also retains the skilled people already in the workforce. Implementing strategies that prioritise employee wellbeing, growth, and satisfaction is the cornerstone of reducing turnover and building a resilient, motivated workforce.