How HR and Finance Can Increase Employee Retention

The field of human resources is changing. In our HR Redefined series, we give innovators a medium to share personal reflections, professional advice, and best practice guidance.

The following is inspired by a presentation given at Namely’s Client Summit by Lisa Chui, VP of HR & Finance at Ubiquity Retirement and Savings.

Workplace culture and engagement initiatives have become increasingly important to employee retention. Lisa Chui, former VP of HR & Finance at Ubiquity Retirement and Savings, offers a unique perspective. She knows firsthand how important it is for HR and Finance to build an effective partnership. At HR Redefined, Lisa shared four tips for leveraging this relationship to strengthen employee retention.

1. Revisit Your Org Chart

As companies go through periods of growth, it’s important to step back and reassess your org chart. If you have a very top-heavy or siloed structure, employees may not feel a strong sense of community or collaboration. Bringing about a cultural transformation shouldn’t be a C-suite conversation, but should engage the whole company in addressing the problem and proposing solutions.

“We asked our team ‘Who is the most important person at our company?’ And it wasn’t the CEO it was the customer,” said Chui. “With this realization, we rebranded all of our teams as ‘success’ teams, combining HR and Finance as 'Company Success'.”

Finance knows all too well that payroll is one of the company’s largest expenses, but a fresh org structure can provide opportunities to re-engage employees and help them work toward a shared mission. HR’s job is to support these employees through an ideal working environment and initiatives that help them achieve success.

2. Prioritize Employee Engagement

To find a solution to existing problems, it helps to go directly to the source. Start with an employee engagement survey. Get your employee NPS score by asking employees to rate their satisfaction with the company on a scale of 1-10. As you introduce new initiatives, you can refer back to this baseline and track your progress. In addition to this score, ask for qualitative feedback on changes employees want to see. Great feedback doesn’t always happen right away. According to Chui, “not a lot of employees provided constructive feedback at first, [so] we had to build that culture of trust.”

When employees do share their candid thoughts, listen. If they see real changes based on their feedback, they will continue to share more.

How do you get Finance on board with new initiatives? You have to first demonstrate the impact. Start with non-cash incentives, and enlist a diverse mix of employees to help guide programming. Low-cost cultural initiatives, for example, work especially well when planned by employees themselves. Try a team breakfast, get creative with holiday treats, or start a fitness challenge.

3. Scale Your Benefits Offering

After introducing new low-cost initiatives based on employee feedback, Chui saw a quantifiable increase in engagement and a drastic rise in Ubiquity’s eNPS. That was a powerful proof point and supported the decision to set aside further budget on engagement initiatives.

Paid employee engagement programs can be as simple as increasing paid time off or as robust as a milestone reward plan. At Ubiquity, Chui’s team introduced a four week sabbatical program for employees who reach the 5 year mark. “It’s great for employees, but also for the company because it forces cross-collaboration and cross-training for employees who cover each other during periods of extended time off.”

Employees will want to stay with your company long-term to reap these benefits—a big boost to retention and a way to avoid the hiring costs associated with backfills.

4. Quantify the Impact on Retention

All of these initiatives can make a dramatic impact on retention. Lower turnover leads to increased profitability. As you align your benefits and culture, not only can you retain employees longer, you can also count on a higher quality referrals from employees who have long been committed to your company.

This is something that everyone at your company can get on board with, so learn to speak the language of finance. Know the ROI of your initiatives and be aware of important metrics like labor to revenue and cost to hire. Cultural change has to start somewhere, and it often takes time and funding—making Finance an important ally throughout the process.

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