Wondering what ranked ahead of employee engagement?

Employee turnover/retention is the biggest issue HR professionals currently face, according to a recent survey from social recognition solutions provider Globoforce and the Society for Human Resource Management.

Employee engagement, which can often help prevent workers from leaving, ranked as HR leaders’ second top concern.

Understanding the factors that may increase disengagement — and, as a result, turnover — are a crucial part of preventing your organization from losing valued employees. Several elements can influence employee turnover rates:

Some programs fall short. Organizations may be actively trying to retain workers — but still struggling to maintain employee engagement. Just 22 percent of companies that offer years of service programs, for example, ranked the efforts as excellent. Thirty-five percent of HR leaders would like to change YOS programs to make them more encouraging.

Certain sectors are hit harder. Research indicates that some industries traditionally experience more significant employee turnover than others. The employee turnover rates for the health care industry, for example, and banking and finance were higher (17.5 and 17.4, respectively) than the average for all industries (15. 7 percent) in 2014, according to Compensation Force.

Turnover targets can be hard to measure. Many analysts are hesitant to identify the best employee turnover rate; certainly, it will vary by organization — but zero isn’t necessarily a winning number. As Gallup points out, tracking performance for roles that can provide clear metrics, such as sales, can help you determine which workers may not be the strongest fit for your organization. Likewise, you’ll be able to spot valuable workers you want to hold on to. However, some positions’ performance levels are difficult to quantify.

HR leaders likely rated retention and turnover as their chief concern partially because of the potential financial and productivity losses that can accompany an employee’s exit.

After reviewing case studies written between 1992 and 2007, the Center for American Progress found that employee turnover costs companies roughly a fifth of each former employee’s salary.

Employee turnover can cost a company much more, if more workers leave — potentially, a hefty expense that the nonpartisan policy institute says could be prevented by offering more workplace flexibility and time off.

Conducting exit interviews can help you understand why employee turnover is occurring; but they won’t help you proactively prevent losing good employees. Monster instead suggests holding stay interviews, which let workers tell you what they appreciate and dislike about their job, at least once a year. Offer them twice for new hires during the time period you’ve noticed they tend to leave.

Instituting a values-based recognition program is another potential solution. Ninety percent of SHRM/Globoforce survey respondents said it had positively affected employee engagement at their organization. Sixty-eight percent found a values-based recognition system helped with employee retention.

If your organization is struggling with employee engagement issues, increasing your value proposition may help — strategies like these can be extremely effective.

To help deflect employee turnover-related costs, you also have another option: Establish a source for viable external talent that can fill future roles. Find out how to create and maintain a talent pipeline — and how to get help, if your team doesn’t currently have the manpower to set up or sustain an ongoing talent recruitment effort.