by Mark Marone  |  September 24, 2020

Competition for talent remains high and there’s no easy fix:

  • Employee turnover was at an all-time high before Covid-19, yet mobility still reins large
  • Employee experience programs focused on amenities and gimmicks aren’t the answer

Turnover Rate Hits Record High

Retention is a problem that’s just gotten worse. As the pressures from furloughs, layoffs and changing job roles have proliferated as a result of the pandemic, keeping your best people in a remote world of work is more of a concern than ever. These days, jobs find candidates, talent work from anywhere, and with services that use sophisticated AI algorithms to reach out to potential applicants who aren’t even looking—the chances are they are targeting your best employees. Huge numbers are choosing to leave: employee turnover in the U.S. stood at 19.3 percent in early 2020, an all-time high.

Our recent survey data confirms it: 26 percent of those we asked are looking for a new job currently or plan to look for one in the coming year. Another 33 percent expect to do so within a 2-5 year timeframe. Only 40 percent—less than half—say they hope to stay with their organizations for a long time. While many people during the pandemic are just happy to have a job and may not be actively seeking other work, as the world had opened up to dispersed job opportunities, employers will be coming for your best talent. It’s no wonder HR executives are stressed out.

So, Why Not Focus on Enhancing Your Business’ Total Rewards Program?

A business school professor at Ohio State recommends revisiting total rewards as a way to reduce turnover, saying that one company he knows of provides free tattoos for employees. Other firms offer “pawternity” leave when an employee gets a new puppy.

Perks like these are like junk food: immediately satisfying, but not what you should be building your long-term diet around if you want to be healthy.

Employee Amenities Are Not the Answer to Attrition

Of course, employees take benefits packages—and the employee experience more generally—into account when deciding where to work. But these won’t keep employees in a job that doesn’t engage them.

We recently tested 36 factors that affect employee engagement and their work experience. We found that experience factors—like wellness benefits, workplace technologies, workspaces, and workplace amenities—fall in the bottom third of all factors tested for fully-engaged employees, and they rank even lower for employees as a whole.

The relative importance of experience factors versus interpersonal factors in driving engagement is 37 percent versus 63 percent for fully-engaged employees.


Minimize Attrition by Maximizing Employee Engagement

We’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Engaged employees offer organizations a wealth of benefits—including significant reduction in turnover.

But there’s no shortcut to engaging employees. The organization’s C-suite, along with every leader at every level need to be aligned, pulling together to create and sustain the interpersonal relationships that result in a fully-engaged workforce.

Novel employee experience initiatives are no substitute.

Check out our website to see the many ways we might help. Dale Carnegie was a master at building interpersonal relationships, at winning friends and influencing people … and you can be, too.

Written By

Mark Marone

Mark Marone, PhD. is the director of research and thought leadership for Dale Carnegie and Associates where he is responsible for ongoing research into current issues facing leaders, employees and organizations world-wide. He publishes frequently on various topics including leadership, the employee/customer experience and sales. Mark can be reached at

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