Still Struggling with your Employee Retention Strategy? It’s Time to Get in the Game

Industry stats on employee turnover and the actual cost to businesses are scary. According to Deloitte Analyst Josh Bersin, some industries, including retail, customer service, and hospitality, are now seeing turnover rates between 30-40%. What is even more frightening, Bersin cites, is that the true price of the loss of an employee can be as high as 1.5-2X their annual salary.

What condition is your condition in?
The bottom line is losing employees is expensive. Retaining good employees is good business. Although there are many conditions that affect a company’s ability to effectively deal with the challenge of employee retention strategies, it all really boils down to keeping employees engaged and tapping into their emotional intelligence. How do you do that? It starts with a deep understanding of your workers, including generational differences and what motivates them.

Talking about a new generation
It’s no wonder that it’s tricky trying to identify what it takes to engage employees today. For the first time in recent history, many businesses are managing a five-generational workforce. Each generation has its unique values, attributes, and work ethic, making it difficult to keep everyone motivated and engaged. Let’s explore some of the differences.

The oldest generation, the Traditionalists, refers to those born on or before 1945. Although many Traditionalists have retired, there are still some who continue to contribute to the workforce. Some characteristics of this group include adherence to rules, loyalty, respect for authority and a sense of responsibility. They are usually task-oriented, work linearly and have a strong work ethic. What this group tends to look for in a job includes respect and recognition, stability and, although the least technology savvy, they are driven to do what needs to be done.

Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, value equal opportunity, are team-oriented and want to make a difference. They also often challenge authority, are very competitive and live to work. They are optimists, great multi-taskers and value personal growth. What this group tends to look for in a job includes the ability to shine, a good fit with a company’s vision, a team approach and clear expectations.

Generation Xers are those born between 1965 and 1980. They value balance, diversity, and independence. They tend to be anti-establishment, focus on results and, unlike Boomers, this group works to live. Xers prefer to work smarter, not longer, and are output-oriented. What this group tends to look for in a job includes dynamic, young leaders, cutting edge technology and being evaluated based on merit rather than seniority.

The next group, Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, value achievement, extreme fun, personal attention, and high morals. They are ambitious, but lack focus. They are innovators and are both individualistic and group-oriented. In the workplace, they seek a work/life balance, including flex-time, and flexibility when it comes to where the work is done. Millennials are goal-oriented and want career development and training. What this group looks for in a job includes always being challenged, having ethical leaders and being evaluated on output.

The newest generation in the workforce is Gen Z, those born between 1997 and 2010. Gen Z values innovation, creativity and working for a cause. They grew up during the Great Recession and know that social security might not be available to them. Consequently, they are willing to work hard, but they want to be compensated accordingly in both salary and benefits. They are tech-intuitive and expect the latest and greatest technologies and resources to be available to them at work. They value extensive feedback and are also looking for face-to-face communication and a relationship with their supervisors.

The first key to unlocking the retention requirements of your workforce is to understand and address the generational differences. The second key is to recognize the importance of each worker’s emotional intelligence and understand what drives their behavior.

Putting Emotion and Motivation in Motion
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a person’s ability to understand and manage emotions in oneself and others. This can be critically important for call centers and other customer-service oriented businesses where resolving problems, communicating with others and making quick decisions is essential. Higher EQ scores are also linked to job performance and overall job satisfaction.

A primary component of emotional intelligence is motivation. According to Abraham Maslow, there are five stages of motivation and the first four stages (deficit needs) generally need to be satisfied before it is likely to satisfy the fifth stage (growth needs).

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


The work environment must strive to satisfy all five levels. Physiological needs are addressed by providing a stable environment and a competitive salary. Security needs are met through fair work practices. Belongingness is satisfied with opportunities for teamwork. You can appeal to Esteem needs by showing employees respect and recognition. Self-actualization achievement in the workplace comes from providing autonomy, challenging work and training for performance and growth. But, to truly satisfy all the needs of your workforce and ensure a strong EQ, a focus on both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is required.

Extrinsic motivation is external, intrinsic arises from inside each worker. They each have a different effect on human behavior and action. Some examples of extrinsic motivation in the workplace include participating in a contest to win a prize or exhibiting certain behaviors and meeting objectives to receive a bonus. Examples of intrinsic motivation include making progress toward achievement of personal growth goals and acknowledgment for work that is performed competently.

Getting Your Game On
Once you understand the generational differences that motivate your workforce, it is time to focus on your employee retention strategy. Gamification is a powerful solution that should be included. Why? Because it can effectively address employee differences and tap into their emotional intelligence, and by doing so can dramatically raise the level of employee engagement.

When employees are engaged, they are more satisfied with their workplace, are more productive and sell more. They are also more likely to stay with their current company. In fact, according to a 2016 Gallup Study, engaged employees result in up to a 9% lower turnover rate.

What is Gamification?
Gamification is the application of game mechanics across the generational spectrum to engage employees, motivate certain behaviors and align their activities with company goals.

Game Mechanics refers to the rules and rewards used to gamify an activity. The key is to make the “game” fun and compelling. Gamification does this by awarding points, posing challenges and providing leaderboards to indicate achievement and develop a healthy spirit of competition.

How Gamification Impacts Employee Retention Strategy
Gamification rewards desired employee behaviors – such as active listening, empathy, keeping your cool with agitated customers and resolving issues quickly. It also appeals to employee needs, regardless of their generational differences. By doing so, gamification keeps employees more engaged, which in turn can have a major impact on improving retention.

For example, Sekure Merchant Solutions, a leading provider of merchant processing solutions, leveraged Noble Gamification to first and foremost reduce agent turnover in its call center. The system was comprised of one TV Leaderboard application that broadcast competitions, results, and achievements across 16 televisions throughout the call center. In addition, Noble Gamification created 4 distinct user interfaces that aligned features to each level of Sekure’s organizational hierarchy. At its core, the gamification solution clearly displayed goals for each agent, team, and supervisor through unique KPI scorecards. As a result of this effort, Sekure decreased agent turnover by a staggering net effect of 62%.

Gamification drives engagement by considering and addressing generational differences, the five levels of need and both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Dramatically improving engagement has a positive impact on employee retention. Gamification also reduces absenteeism and improves revenue recovery and generation, quality, compliance and customer satisfaction.

Are you using gamification? If not, what have you found to be effective ways to improve employee retention strategy?


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