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Reducing Voluntary Turnover 61 8.1 Workforce Challenges. Programs related to "Reducing Voluntary Turnover" are typically designed to address challenges associated with maintaining a satisfied workforce. These challenges should be carefully considered before selecting the program that would best fit the needs of your agency. For example, these are common challenges agencies face: Short-term Turnover. Participants indicated that between 6 and 18 months after beginning a new job, some employees realize that they do not enjoy their new work environment and voluntarily opt to leave the company. The primary reasons for this type of turnover include an inability to find the work meaningful; an inability to fit into the organizational culture; a conflict or dislike of a supervisor; a lack of flexibility, autonomy, or leadership opportunities; and/or the necessity of outdoor manual labor. During this critical timeframe, organizations struggle to keep these employees onboard; thus, specific workforce initiatives need to be targeted at employees within this timeframe. Differences in Job Expectations. Organizations have found that generations differ in terms of what they want from their employer; employees aged 50 and over often prioritize being respected and feeling valued, employees in their 40s often want more time at home and greater work-life balance, and employees in their 30s typically desire different types of development opportunities. With regard to development opportunities, employees from younger generations are interested in learning as much as they can in a short period of time. These younger employees are often interested in expanding their skill set in order to make themselves more desirable in the job market. Organizations are challenged with providing the necessary amount of training to keep employees engaged while balancing the amount of time employees spend in training with their contributions to the bottom line. Organizations are also challenged with training supervisors in how to harness their employees' desire to learn. Additionally, younger workers often differ in their expectations when it comes to promotions. Today's younger workers are looking to quickly climb the corporate ladder and if promotions do not occur in 2 to 3 years, these workers may begin to look for opportunities outside the organization. This differs from previous generations who were not as concerned with promotions as they were with job stability. In addition to dealing with these differences in expectations, employers also have to work with managers who do not believe in treating all employees according to their needs. Better Location. Large private sector competitors (e.g., Boeing, Google, John Deere, Wal-Mart) often build facilities in rural and remote areas, which decrease the amount of potential applicants for job openings in the smaller, more resource-constrained public sector agencies in those same areas. These big companies will hire the majority of the individuals in the local towns and sometimes `grow' towns based on their employment demand. Public sector organizations struggle to retain employees when one of these large facilities is constructed, especially if more generous compensation and benefits or greater opportunities to work with people they know are offered. Deficiency in Top Management Support. Participants suggested that their organizations are challenged with gaining corporate support for new retention initiatives. Human resource (HR) representatives reported that they sometimes struggle to convince higher-level leadership that investing in initiatives found to reduce turnover can also contribute positively to the bottom line. 8.2 Industry Strategies. Researchers and program managers identify the following programmatic strategies when describing industry efforts in "Reducing Voluntary Turnover" (see Exhibit 8-2). While these strategies represent the general direction of HR departments across the nation, it is
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62 Strategies to Attract and Retain a Capable Transportation Workforce important that the specific needs of your agency are used to guide the development and implementation of a program in your agency. Exhibit 8-2 Industry Strategies: Reducing Voluntary Turnover Strategy Strategy Description Remove Obstacles to Research indicates that removing barriers and workplace distractions are Employee Growth essential components of employee retention. For example, many transit organizations single out improved training itself as key to workforce recruitment and--especially--retention (TRB, 2003). Reward Citizenship Employees are interested in working for companies that encourage meaningful Behaviors relationships with the community and value employee camaraderie. Thus, it is important that organizations recognize individuals who contribute to the organization, to their coworkers, and to the surrounding community through participating in charitable acts, commonly referred to as organizational citizenship behaviors (i.e., contextual performance). An increasing number of DOTs are promoting environmental stewardship activities in particular. NYSDOT has been particularly effective at increasing staff pride and ownership with such activities, in the context of regular maintenance work and additional partnership activities sometimes outside of work hours. Keep Former During times of economic downturn, organizations are providing training Employees Close courses to laid-off employees on how to search, apply, and interview when seeking a job, as well as career counseling, outplacement assistance, resume - writing, access to office equipment, financial counseling, access to job fair information and information on internet job placement sites. This conveys to the employee that the organization is concerned about their career beyond their contribution to the bottom line. Organizations that provide such training and then experience lay-offs have seen many of those who were laid-off reapply when openings became available. This assistance will also keep employees local, which may help the organization more quickly rehire them in the future. Organizations are also developing websites where former employees can go to receive updates on the organization's recent accomplishments, the current employees, and even job opportunities. Developing an "alumni portal" conveys to current and former employees that the organization is interested in their well-being even after they have moved on to another organization. Organizations with alumni portals have also seen former employees return based on the constant contact. Rehiring former employees is beneficial to the organization because those rehires do not require as much training. During times of economic downturn, organizations are even reaching out to their competitors when they can no longer support their employees. They are pointing their employees in the direction of these job opportunities to ensure that the individuals stay employed. Organizations that practice this tactic typically see their employees return when new job opportunities become available.