If you knew which employees were thinking about quitting, you might be able to curb turnover.
And then you’d be “The Great Retainer” in midst of the The Great Resignation.
Now’s the time to get better at identifying employees at risk of leaving.
“The world of work has been in a constant state of motion,” said Don Weinstein, corporate vice president of global product and technology at ADP. “The needs of the global workforce are evolving.”
Certainly, the pandemic changed workplaces and prompted the evolving needs. It also changed employees’ perspectives and priorities – and many found working arrangements that used to be a good fit weren’t anymore.
HR needs to know who feels that way. Fortunately, new research has helped identify the employees most at risk of quitting.
We gathered the expert insight into how you can retain more employees.
According to Mercer’s 2021 Inside Employees’ Minds report, about 30% of employees are considering leaving their jobs.
The bulk of them are front-line employees. That’s not terribly surprising. Those positions tend to be volatile, pandemic or not.
But lower-level and low-wage employees are quitting at significantly higher rates now. And the people in those roles are mainly women and minorities.
Specifically, the Asian and Black populations are more likely to quit. And anyone making less than $60,000 a year is at higher risk, the Mercer study found.
“In many organizations, frontline and lower-level employees have been underinvested in and not considered a priority. But the pandemic has shown that this same group of workers not only kept business afloat, but were critical in keeping our nation running,” said Melissa Swift, Mercer US Transformation Leader. “Employers now need to think differently about frontline and lower-level workers and deliver a compelling value proposition that addresses their needs.”
Another at-risk group: Women in middle management. They are three times more likely to quit next year, according to research from Qualtrics.
“The data shows us that female leaders are the most likely to leave,” said Tara Belliard, Principal Consultant, Employee Experience at Qualtrics. “Work with them to understand what kind of support they need, rather than piling on more pressure.”
Why they’re quitting
So why are these populations quitting at higher levels? The majority say it’s the money: Pay and benefits aren’t sufficient.
Another large group say it’s the stress: They’re overworked and overwhelmed, especially since many of them on the front line worked in-person and straight through the pandemic.
More specifically, most lower-wage employees say they want to quit because they can’t cover monthly expenses. And that takes a toll on their mental health. Other employees – those earning more than $60k – cite mental, physical and overall well-being as the reasons for departure.
With that in mind, here are five ways to stay ahead of turnover:
Make the front line a high priority
No one intends to take any employee for granted. But front-line employees often feel like they are taken for granted.
One way to prove they’re valuable employees – and encourage their loyalty – is to improve their economic stability.
Look into ways to increase their pay first, because as Mercer researchers put it “perks and other benefits won’t matter if these employees can’t address basic needs.”
Beyond the hourly wage, try to provide them with affordable healthcare and tools and resources to help them achieve financial wellness. That might include retirement savings programs or financial and budgeting training.
Many organizations have improved their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts, but some employees still don’t feel safe and accepted: Mercer found minorities quit at higher rates.
Part of the problem: Organizations attract a diverse workforce, but they don’t ensure DEI efforts can thrive.
In fact, more than 40% of employees don’t think their company is genuinely committed to DEI, the Qualtrics study found.
So prove it by talking to and surveying employees to find out where their experiences fall short – or are downright unpleasant. Then take steps to correct those issues.
Another tactic: Train and equip managers to become allies and advocates for their diverse teams. Give them the voice and authority to stand up against workplace inequities and micro-aggressions so everyone feels safe.
We won’t harp too much on hybrid or remote work schedules. We all know that’s what employees prefer now. But research shows most of the people quitting these days aren’t in roles that allow for remote or hybrid schedules.
So HR might want to focus on different forms of flexibility to retain employees. For instance, can you cross-train some employees so they can share jobs, leaving more room for flexible scheduling?
Another option: Can employees pick their hours to accommodate their childcare demands?
Or try this tip from a company we know: They brought childcare and academic assistance on-site when schools closed. They continued with onsite before- and after-school care, along with homework and transportation help so employees could manage it all better.
Many employees who think about quitting are burned out. They’re tired from working too much at jobs that don’t excite them, regardless of their level.
“People have been digging deep over these past two years working at home,” said Antonio Pangallo, Ph.D., Principal I/O Psychologist of Employee Experience at Qualtrics. “For many people, the things we have taken for granted such as good health and job stability are now under threat.”
You can offer well-being benefits from yoga and mindfulness apps to mental telehealth and time off. But the researchers at Qualtrics found much of the problem lies in culture.
Any workplace that rewards excessive hours and goals, and criminalizes self-care, will lose employees. To avoid that, they suggest executives:
- Lead by example. Work reasonable hours. Take personal time. Treat mental health the same as physical health.
- Talk about it. Encourage all employees to do all of those things. And if they can’t find a balance, normalize conversations about mental well-being by initiating them.
- Encourage a culture of well-being. Create a structure so employees understand the boundaries around how, where, and when work gets done, leaving enough time for days off to focus on well-being.
Amp up belonging
People stay where they feel they belong, regardless of demographics. That’s why it’s critical to foster a deeper sense of belonging for everyone in the organization. Do it within teams, across functions and up and down the chains of command.
“Employees must feel welcomed, known, included, supported, and connected,” said Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Workforce Scientist at the Achievers Workforce Institute. “To break down existing silos, employers should focus on welcoming new employees and integrating them beyond their close teams.
“Create a structured onboarding process that homes in on employee connections,” Baumgartner said. “A few tips for accomplishing this include hosting an informal staff meeting to meet various employees, creating a team ‘cheat sheet’ so new hires have insight on all teammates, and designating windows of time for employees to chat with others to build relationships across an entire organization.”