In what psychologist Dr Anthony Klotz called “The Great Resignation”, workers began quitting their jobs at a record-setting pace following the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns. Some predict this trend will continue for the foreseeable future, aggravating an already tight labor market.
As a result, employers are doing what they can to lure people away from their current jobs by offering higher wages and signing bonuses. Other workers who came to prefer working remotely last year are moving to permanent work-from-home positions.
Whatever the reasons, it’s an employees’ job market and your retention strategy has never been more important. How will you keep valuable team members engaged? Here are a few ideas.
1. Perform a Culture Audit.
During the pandemic, corporate culture took a back seat to more pressing concerns. As the economy heats up again, it’s important for organizations to renew their focus on building a corporate culture employees feel great about. What is your organization doing to fuel excitement about the future and build unity, even if some team members are still working remotely? How long has it been since you’ve updated your corporate vision and communicated that to employees? Although your company’s culture is a top-down endeavor, managers and department heads can do a lot to build employee loyalty, unity and satisfaction through leadership and team-building initiatives.
- Idea: End work early one day to hold an informal discussion (preferably offsite, with refreshments) of your team’s vision and goals for the next year. Ask for your team’s feedback about obstacles they are facing, and brainstorm ways to overcome them. Encourage honest feedback and ask for ideas about how the company and your department can improve performance by supporting employees’ needs.
2. Identify and Help Stressed-Out Employees.
People have been through a lot in the last year and a half. They have lost loved ones, maintained full-time jobs while caring for children or elderly parents at home, and were isolated from friends and family. Front-line managers or your HR department can help identify employees who may be at risk and need extra support. Employees are more likely to stay with a company or team they feel cares about them.
- Idea: Have a confidential conversation with anyone on your team who is suddenly behaving differently, such as coming in late, or showing other signs of stress. Ask for their feedback on what’s going well, what challenges they are facing and how you can work together for success.
3. Consider an Associate Care Director.
Managers often have no idea a report is unhappy until they give their notice. An associate care coordinator can help prevent unnecessary turnover by focusing on employee satisfaction. This individual’s role is two-fold: to gain intelligence about employee morale and to improve morale through reward programs, appreciation events and team activities (Note: an associate care coordinator can be a part of your human resources department, but they should not be the same person who handles complaints, conflicts and other personnel matters).
- Idea: Sign your team up for a volunteer activity. Community projects are a great way to improve morale and work relationships.
4. Review Your Compensation.
It is wise to make sure your salaries and benefits are competitive in the current environment. While companies often think they cannot afford to offer higher salaries, the cost of losing experienced team members to competitors can be even greater. If your salaries are already as competitive as you can make them, look at low- and no-cost perks that can make your people feel valued.
- Idea: Employees want to work for organizations they respect. How can management communicate your organization’s support for the environment, the community, diversity and ethical business practices?
People work for money, but their motivation and happiness are influenced by many factors. Sometimes it is the little things that keep a team together. As managers, we need to do our best to hang on to our most valuable asset – our people.