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How to retain staff without burning your business’s bottom line

By Emma Musgrave | |5 minute read

The average Australian employee stays at their job for less than three years. Here are four measures you can implement to help retain staff.

According to new research from Gallagher, job longevity continues to be a key issue for businesses across the country.

The average Aussie will stay less than three years in their current job, forcing employers and HR leaders to take a more holistic approach to staff retention efforts. There’s a lot of room for improvement, with the research finding only one-third of businesses listen to feedback on how to bring about change, which would lead to greater retention. The others are either listening but not affecting change or not listening at all.


Commenting on the research, Steven Furman, chief executive of Aussie tech business Paytime, said a huge pain point for senior business leaders is the loss of good staff, due to the costs involved in finding replacements.

“The average Australian employee is staying in their job for less than three years, so forward-thinking companies need to adopt new strategies to attract and retain quality staff,” he said.

“The expectation that staff will stick around just for higher pay, a hybrid work/home balance, and a few discounts and rewards thrown in is no longer working — companies need a retention plan to keep good people and nurture those coming through the ranks.

“More employers need to acknowledge that the workforce of today is a mobile generation and they not only want flexibility of working from home, but flexibility around their pay too.”

According to Mr Furman, there are four things business leaders can implement to improve staff retention rates that won’t necessarily hurt the bottom line.

1. Improve financial wellbeing

The personal financial stress of employees has a direct effect on a business with a decrease in productivity, increased absenteeism, mistakes made on the job and increased attrition rates,” Mr Furman said. “Financial insecurity leads to disengaged workers, and with cost of living being the number one pain point for Australians at the moment, there’s not a worker out there that couldn’t benefit from having better access to their money.”

Mr Furman flagged that earned wage access (EWA) software allows workers to withdraw a portion of their earned pay as they need it at no additional cost or burden to the company. A PWC survey found EWA boosts employee retention by approximately 36 per cent, he added.

2. Expand benefits

“A competitive salary is usually just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to staff retention,” Mr Furman said, noting the main benefits staff want in 2023 are flexible work hours, mental health programs, remote work options, flexibility with their pay, extra paid parental leave and wellness programs.

“Review what your benefits package is and how it compares to your competitors. Re-look at what was implemented during COVID and those solutions that are not being used by staff or add little value, look to remove them.”

3. Look into rewards and recognition

“Sometimes, people just really need to be told they’re doing a good job,” Mr Furman said.

“Recognising an employee in front of their colleagues can go a long way in motivating and retaining employees.

“Look at how you could improve your rewards and recognition programs with offers that tangibly help employees. Gift vouchers [and] instant cash payments are a low-cost boost to employee morale that goes a long way to improving staff wellbeing and loyalty; simply offering free lunches for everyone in the office doesn’t recognise the stand-out performers.”

4. Focus on employee growth and development

“Show your staff you value them by investing in them and encouraging them to grow with staff development programs. Look at introducing more leadership training courses and classes as part of your staff retention strategy,” Mr Furman said.

He flagged that 30 per cent of Aussie companies (surveyed by Robert Half) said they plan to provide a training allowance to help employees upskill. Meanwhile, 27 per cent were looking to offer international secondment opportunities to staff.

“By upskilling your employees, you’re encouraging them to advance their careers within the company instead of leaving to go elsewhere,” Mr Furman concluded.


Employee engagement

Employee engagement is the level of commitment people have to the company, how enthusiastic they are about their work, and how much free time they devote to it.

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