Last quarter, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 3.9 percent. This is the first time we’ve seen a number below 4 percent in nearly two decades – since before the economic boom that crested just before the 2001 recession. This is great news for the U.S. economy – and the global economy. But what does it mean for your workforce?

An unemployment rate this low has immediate and profound impacts on talent acquisition, management and development. Bringing in new talent is now more difficult than ever – and more expensive than ever; in a tight labor market, the cost of talent acquisition soars. Strong candidates are in demand, driving up salaries. Organizations can also expect to feel disruption internally when top performers feel the itch to move to a new, potentially better-paying role. Many studies find that the cost of losing an employee can be upward of two times his or her annual salary.

So, what do we do? How can organizations seize the opportunity of a growing economy but not be burned by the war for talent? Business leaders must focus on talent retention by providing purpose and opportunity for growth. Below are four tips that will help you build an employee experience founded on learning and source new talent when you need it.

1. Know What Motivates Your People.

Today’s workforce is a dynamic population spanning five generations with unique interests and motivations. This melting pot has spurred much change across organizations, but it also has united many workers’ expectations. Today, a career is more than a stable job. In fact, 70 percent of people – in all generations – say it is important to them that their actions help make a positive difference in the world. Employees want to build their own future and feel empowered by what they do, so show them how they’re a critical part of the big picture; then, challenge them to perform their best, learn new things and make a real impact.

2. Fuel Your Employee Experience With Learning.

The CEO of AT&T recently told the New York Times that people who do not dedicate themselves to several hours of learning each week will quickly become obsolete in their jobs. While it might seem outlandish, the rate of digital change and its impact on business demonstrate the reality of his claim. Your people don’t want to be left for the history books; as they watch the organization grow, they want to get better as individuals, too.

The best retention strategy is one that focuses on the individual’s daily experiences (which will cumulate into your culture) and provides employees ample opportunity to thrive at work and beyond. Business leaders should seek to understand each employee’s purpose, passion, skills and competencies in order to provide them a pathway for professional and personal growth and tools for development. By doing so, you’ll cultivate an evergreen source of talent and a loyal workforce.

3. Be Prepared to Let Stars Leave.

Leaders who develop internal champions are hesitant to let employees go, not wanting to lose their skills and knowledge to another department or company. That’s understandable, but it’s important to think of the bigger picture.

Employees thrive in a culture where they are encouraged to grow, given the tools to develop and rewarded for their performance. There may come a natural end to that cycle in their current position, and they may want to move upward or horizontally – and that role may not exist in your department or even your company. That’s OK, if you have developed a stewardship culture where leaders developing leaders is a cornerstone. What’s most important is the overall team culture you’ve cultivated and the positive impact that employee has had on others – particularly his or her less experienced peers. Hone in on the employee experience and organizational attitude toward developing others, and you’ll have more star hitters than you can pitch to.

4. Find Staffing Help in a Pinch.

You won’t hear many complaints about an upward trending economy, but growth does not come without growing pains. With expanding innovation and investment, you’ll eventually want to bring in additional staff. “In the United States,” according to Deloitte’s 2018 “Global Human Capital Trends” report, “more than 40 percent of workers are now employed in ‘alternative work arrangements’ such as contingent, part-time, or gig work. This percentage is steadily rising – increasing by 36 percent in just the past five years – and now includes workers of all ages and skill levels.”

In this type of labor market, it’s critical to align your talent acquisition and business strategies. HR leaders can mitigate high costs in the moment and the burden of turnover in the future by obtaining expert help to plan the optimal workforce approach and execute against it. Whether it’s for skill or experience, or you simply need more of what you already have, a staffing group can help you cultivate a network of top-tier talent that is accessible at a moment’s notice for immediate, temporary or long-term needs.

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