In spring 2021, a new trend grabbed the economy by the throat and hasn’t let go yet. That trend is known as the Great Resignation, which describes the phenomenon of employees en masse deciding to quit their jobs.
While economists debate on whether or not the COVID-19 pandemic has directly led to the Great Resignation, there’s no doubt that the pandemic set the stage to make the Great Resignation possible, and perhaps, inevitable.
According to this survey from Pew Research, here are the top factors that caused Americans to quit their jobs:
- Low pay
- No opportunities for advancement
- Poor workplace culture
- Child care issues
- Lack of work flexibility
- Mediocre benefits
- Location dependence
- Not enough work
- Vaccine mandate
We can use the above data to build a rock-solid employee retention strategy. Here’s what you need to know to retain your employees during this unprecedented labor churn.
Pay Your Employees What They’re Worth
Studies show that the best way to increase one’s pay is to job hop. This is especially true for younger workers who have just entered the workforce. By moving jobs every two years, most employees will get a pay increase that’s higher than their standard salary raise. While this is great for the employee, it’s not so good for the employer, because it means that you will have to invest in recruiting and training a new employee approximately every two years.
The money that you spend in recruiting and training a new employee would be better used in re-investing in your current workforce.
Consider how much your employees can make if they move on to one of your competitors. If you can swing it, consider paying a competitive salary that allows you to keep your best talent.
Create Professional Development Opportunities
While your ultimate goal may be to keep your employees from leaving, that doesn’t mean that you also have to keep them in the same box. People grow, and as a part of their evolution, some will want to take on new responsibilities and challenges.
Keep in mind that personal development doesn’t always mean switching a position. It can also mean sharpening a skill set so that the employee moves from junior to senior in the same position. This employee can then become a better resource in training future employees as your company grows.
Offer internal training opportunities to all employees who want it. This can prevent job stagnation and make your employees feel like they’re able to build up their skill set. This includes cross-department training. Training can also be in the form of external classes and programs.
Improve Your Culture
What is the culture of your workplace? Culture matters. Seek to cultivate a culture of respect, recognition, and collaboration. This is the type of environment that will allow your employees to thrive because they’ll feel appreciated and valued. Here are a few ideas you can put into action:
Recognize a job well done. If your employees meet a goal, recognize it and be appreciative. Beyond words, also seek to show your thanks through meaningful rewards, such as time off or gift cards. Create an employee recognition program that highlights your top players.
Collect feedback. Ask your employees to anonymously share feedback on all aspects of your company, from training to job opportunities to pay. You can discover employee sentiment from regularly collecting feedback.
But don’t stop there. Also, put into action what you’ve learned from the feedback. This will prove to your employees that you’re listening to what they’re sharing. Doing so will also encourage even more feedback in the future.
Invest in Greater Flexibility
Employees have lives outside of work. Many employees have children, and children can’t be neatly compartmentalized to off-hours and the weekend. When the pandemic hit, and schools closed, many parents were put in a bind. How could they work while also dealing with the new demands of homeschooling their kids? And while schools have re-opened, some parents have chosen to continue homeschooling for various reasons, such as safety.
Because child care concerns are one of the top four reasons why employees are quitting in droves, it’s crucial to consider your own work arrangements. Is the job flexible for parents who must make this difficult choice? Can you offer parents a choice to work remotely, on a hybrid basis, or to work non-traditional hours?
Offering a flexible work arrangement can increase both employee retention and employee productivity. It’s a two-for-one benefit. First, employees who have the ability to work when they choose are more likely to stick around because it’s not always easy to find that same arrangement elsewhere. Second, when employees are allowed to work when they’re most productive, they tend to be more efficient. Forcing employees to work an arbitrary eight hours a day doesn’t guarantee results. However, shifting to a goal- and results-focused schedule will encourage your employees to do their jobs well and on time, regardless of how much they work.
Provide Better Benefits
Benefits are another opportunity to increase employee retention. Compensation is part of the package but not the whole package. Employees also want other perks. Here’s a look at the most desirable benefits that employees are after:
A flexible work schedule – We’ve already covered this above. Employees want the option to choose their own schedule. Give your employees more autonomy over their daily lives, primarily if they work remotely. Focus on results instead of hours logged.
Health insurance – Employees want medical coverage for themselves and their families. It’s always a good practice to find the best health insurance, instead of opting for the cheapest one. And give employees the ability to choose from various plans. Other insurance can include dental, vision, life, and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D).
Paid time off – A substantial vacation package is always welcome, whether that’s for a standard vacation, volunteer time, illness, or family hardship.
These benefits can be offered to all of your employees, not just the new hires. By re-examining your employee benefits package at least yearly, and comparing it to that of your competitors, you will see glaring opportunities for expansion.
Allow Your Employees to Work Remotely
The housing crisis has caused many people to reconsider where they live. Some are moving in with family, others are opting to move to areas that have a lower cost of living.
If a job is tied to a brick and mortar location, and the employee wants to move to a different city or state (or even country), they’ll be forced to quit unless you give them the ability to work remotely. If the job can be done remotely, strongly consider making this an option for those who need it.
In 2022 and beyond, employees prefer the option to work remotely, even if they choose to come to work several times a week.
Take Steps to Prevent Burnout
Burnout is a real condition that happens when your employees are overburdened with work but feel like there’s nothing they can do to change or control it. Burnout can happen for various reasons, like:
- Poisonous work culture (Employees feel marginalized and invalidated by management, experiences disparities in who is promoted and celebrated)
- Unclear expectations (Employees don’t understand how to do their jobs)
- Too much work (Often as a result of doing two or more people’s jobs at once, due to employee churn)
- Lack of work-life balance (Employees are expected to work late or on weekends to meet unrealistic deadlines)
You can prevent burnout by encouraging a better work-life balance. Set realistic deadlines so you don’t force your employees to work long hours.
Preventing employee churn starts by implementing the above retention strategies. While some churn is to be expected, these strategies will help you eliminate excessive churn.
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