Can you retain employees when so many want to jump ship these days?
It’s a question nearly all HR leaders need to ask themselves and other executives now.
In fact, you might need to hold on to your hat when you hear why it’s critical. More than 90% of employees are considering changing jobs! Nearly as many are willing to switch industries – not just employers – to get new jobs, researchers at Monster.com found.
But why do they want to leave? A third say they’re just burned out. Another third say they don’t see enough growth opportunities in their roles and/or company.
Employees seem to need a lot – reset, reassurance or re-engagement – so you retain them. So being proactive now will likely pay off later.
“Clearly demonstrating support of employees during this time of constant change and stress is the key to employee retention,” says Jan Bruce, CEO and co-founder, meQuilibrium. “Ongoing communication to foster an atmosphere of candidness, transparency and mutual support helps employees develop shared trust with the organization, their colleagues and management.”
You also need several tangible and intangible ways to effectively fight turnover and retain your best employees.
Here are five expert-driven and research-proven tactics to hold on to employees during the Great Resignation.
Get back to ‘mission critical’
Most working people did just what they had to do the last year to get through. They worked, took care of themselves and others and plodded forward.
Employees aimed to survive, not necessarily thrive in the past year. They did what was needed to get by. And that’s why they might need a nudge to feel grounded in their work again.
“Helping the employee understand how they individually contribute to the mission and purpose is critical,” says Bruce. “This is proven to improve their connection to and engagement in their work.”
Executives can lead the charge in employee retention. Regularly share the company vision and its origins and give examples of how it’s executed. More importantly, front-line managers want to thank and reward employees for their work. And then explain how it positively impacts colleagues, the company, community and/or customers.
Promote, pay employees fairly
People stay where they’re appreciated. And even if employers don’t want to hear this: Nothing shows you appreciate time and talent more than money and power. Nearly half of employees say money makes them want a promotion, and a quarter say it’s the respect, a LiveCareer survey found.
Unfortunately, employers haven’t raised pay or handed out promotions proportionately lately. While employees worked from home, 34% of men with children at home said they were promoted. Meanwhile, just 9% of women in the same situation were, a Qualtrics and Boardlist study recently found.
Pay raises usually come with those promotions – and 40% of employees in the LiveCareer survey said they’ve left jobs because they didn’t get a pay raise.
Now, as employees move back on-site, those promotions and pay raises widen the pay and leadership gap. Those who feel left behind are more likely to leave you behind when they look for new, better-paying or properly recognized roles.
So, it might be time to review and align compensation, roles and responsibilities. Then adjust employees as needed, recognizing their full contributions.
Give managers resources to support
As cliché as it sounds, employees still leave managers, not companies. So the more positive impact front-line managers can have on direct reports, the less likely employees will leave.
“meQuilibrium’s data has shown that employees who felt unsupported by their employers experienced 10 times the increase in job stress than those who felt supported,” says Bruce. “Supporting your managers is critical to supporting your employees. Managers are pivotal to employee job satisfaction, and job satisfaction is highly correlated to retention.”
Resources include time, flexibility and money to support employees.
- Time: What can you pull from front-line managers’ plates so they have more time to communicate one-on-one and in groups with employees? Paperwork and meetings can probably top that list.
- Flexibility: Where can you give front-line managers more control with scheduling employees and themselves so they can better balance work and life?
- Money: How can you make it easier for front-line managers to immediately reward employees for good and great work?
Help teams become, feel closer
In the same vein as employees staying loyal to good managers, they often stick with teammates they like.
Employees with friends at work are seven times more engaged, productive and happy than those who don’t have a network, Gallup researchers found.
So leaders who can help employees foster better relationships will retain employees.
Some ways, according to the Paychex Team Morale survey:
- Allow talk about current events. You don’t want them to pretend the world isn’t happening around them.
- Encourage constructive venting on work frustrations. Ask for feedback so they understand it’s OK if everything isn’t OK, and
- Give employees time to reconnect. If they haven’t seen each other for a long time, let them take moments to catch up. Create opportunities – such as picnics or built-in social time before meetings – to rebuild relationships.
“It’s important for leaders to keep an open mind and address these feelings. Respecting employee concerns and frustrations are integral for maintaining healthy company culture,” says HR Coach Marsha Akpodiete at Paychex.
Reconsider vacation, perks
After a year of isolation to different degrees, employees think about time off and vacation differently than they did before the pandemic.
So nowadays, employees are attracted to – or stick with – a better vacation incentive. How can you mix it up? Paychex found some of the more unique offerings:
- At FullContact, employees get $7,500 a year to travel and they’re required to cut themselves off from work while they’re gone.
- Employees at Motley Fool get unlimited vacation time and could potentially win in the Fool’s Errand Program when leaders pull one employee’s name from a hat every month. The winner gets “a decent chunk of money” toward a two-week vacation, which he or she must take before the next monthly meeting.
- At Bonanza, employees work through Freedom February when the ecommerce company moves its office to a tropical location and gives employees five bonus days off to enjoy the vacation.
Even if you can’t offer more generous or flexible vacation and paid time off options, make sure employees feel comfortable using their time. A Skynova study found nearly half of employees have anxiety about asking for time off – the time that’s due to them!