Turnover has always been an issue. But this new wave isn’t like any we’ve ever faced. So how can HR prevent turnover now?
It’s complicated because employees don’t leave just because they find a similar, but seemingly better, job with a bigger paycheck.
That’s something HR can fix.
Now, in the wake of the pandemic and its unsettling effects on life and work, employees leave for completely different roles. Or they leave the workforce entirely. They often choose “life” over work when they can’t balance the two.
And that’s not something you can just fix with better compensation and benefits.
Nearly half of employees who’ve left jobs recently have little or no interest in going back to the kinds of jobs they’ve traditionally held, according to a McKinsey survey.
But you can prevent turnover, working with leadership to create a workplace culture no one wants to leave.
“There’s a great sense of opportunity,” says Taylor Smith, CEO and Co-founder of Blueboard. “What’s changed is the focal point. Companies need to think about what employees want now. Not just about what companies need.”
To keep employees happy – and ultimately prevent the turnover that leads to many other issues such as lower morale, productivity and engagement – HR and other leaders want to take steps now.
Here are four expert-driven, research-proven ways to prevent turnover in the post-COVID workplace:
You won’t likely keep employees if you don’t understand them and their expectations. Unfortunately, many organizations and their leaders don’t understand what their employees want and need to stay engaged (and employed).
In a separate McKinsey study, executives said the top reasons their people quit were: compensation, work/life balance, and poor physical and emotional health. But, here’s what employees cited as their top reasons for quitting. They didn’t feel:
- valued by their organization (54%)
- valued by their managers (52%), and
- a sense of belonging at work (51%).
That’s the clear disconnect that leads to turnover.
To prevent turnover, HR will want to increase opportunities and channels to capture the voice of employees. Consider:
- regular roundtable sessions, and mix up the the participants
- “Ask Me Anything” meetings with executives (employee questions will reveal their changing wants and needs), and
- skip-level reviews, when employees can share insight and concerns with someone beyond their boss.
Make ‘sticky moves’
When you have a better understanding of what employees want, you’re more equipped to make some “sticky moves,” say the McKinsey researchers.
Every workplace and its employees are different, so your sticky moves will depend on the feedback you get. If you don’t get much feedback – or you need trend insight – here are the top three sticky moves based on employee feedback in the McKinsey study:
- Professional development. Employees will stay at companies where they can get career coaching, appropriate training and development and opportunities to pursue better roles and compensation
- Flexibility. This isn’t just about wanting – or even demanding – work schedules that wrap around their lives. Employees want more flexibility with how they manage their work. For instance, some companies let people assemble their own teams for projects rather than work in the same old silos. Others let job candidates and employees interested in changing positions test out those roles before committing, and
- Meaningful work. Half of employee still say they’d leave their job for another that gives them a greater sense of meaning. One way many organizations build meaning into work is with testimonials: Customers talk with employees about how the product or service they help create has had a positive impact on their lives.
Employees stay where they’re happy. They walk away quickly from places that make them miserable.
Proof: Almost two-thirds of employees who quit say a toxic work environment was part – if not all – of the reason they left, a FlexJobs survey found.
Even if you and other leaders don’t think you have a workplace that’s on the toxic scale, your employees might feel differently.
For instance, leadership might think if employees aren’t in constant conflict, don’t complain and show up every day, they have harmony in the workplace. Meanwhile, employees feel slighted because they don’t get meaningful feedback from and dialogue with their oblivious leaders. Then employees fill the holes with assumptions and gossip, fueling underlying toxicity.
The best way to squash toxicity: transparency.
Employees almost always understand their workplace – from assignments to company financials – won’t always be ideal. They’d rather hear hard truths about everything than be in the dark about anything.
So it’s not only important to communicate with transparency. You want to create a communication plan so employees know when and how they’ll be updated on information that affects them (which is almost everything). Include time, tools and opportunities for them to give feedback and get reactions to it.
Connect people at work and they’ll stay in the workplace. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are growing in popularity across companies of all sizes and industries, and regardless of whether employees work full-time on-site, remotely or in hybrid situations.
ERGs can help employees build professional – and more importantly personal – connections. That’s where they meet people with similar interests, characteristics, life experiences and/or passions. Then the ERGs often become a force for good and grounds for healthier workplaces.
- The ERG plan’s mission is to ensure employees’ voices, perspectives and impact are seen and valued
- Employees from entry-level positions to the C-suite can and choose to participate
- The CEO rotates through each ERG to get a feel for employees’ needs and expectations, and get feedback on how to improve the company culture, and
- Employees help find and fuel the groups. Some of the most popular are:
- AE@PTC empowers and provides members with the tools and resources to further their careers while showcasing different cultural aspects of the Asian culture to all employees
- BE@PTC promotes individual and collective growth through various resources for Black employees
- HOLA is for Latino and Hispanic employees to embrace and promote professional growth, raise diversity awareness and augment its business impact and contribution
- PRISM creates an inclusive culture of acceptance and understanding for employees of all sexual orientations and gender identities, and
- Virtual@PTC enhances company performance and culture by augmenting the virtual work experience for all employees.