The Great Resignation is hitting employers hard. More than 4 million people quit their jobs in December 2021. In fact, about 4 million people quit their jobs each month, August through November 2021. An Adobe survey indicates that the Great Resignation will continue, at least among Generation Z (workers between 18 and 24). More than half of Gen Z workers said they plan to leave their jobs by August 2022. Companies who want to avoid or slow the Great Resignation will develop retention strategies that their employees will love.
What is Employee Retention?
Employee retention is the organization's ability to prevent employee turnover. High turnover can become a revolving door. When one employee in a department leaves, the workload for other employees increases. As employees feel overworked, their job satisfaction declines, and they also begin to look for new jobs.
Check out our ultimate guide on employee retention to learn more.
How Do We Increase Employee Retention?
Employees have needs for safety, affiliation, achievement, and self-esteem. They will leave their jobs if these needs aren't met. Major reasons employees leave are inappropriate work-life balance, lack of engagement with the organization's mission, inability to advance and grow in their careers, poor relationships, and unfair or inadequate compensation packages.
Building employee retention strategies to combat these turnover factors can help minimize a 'great resignation' at your organization.
Work-Life Balance Employee Retention Strategies
During the pandemic, factors shifted and caused an unhealthy work-life balance. About half of the workers responding to the Adobe survey said that the trend toward remote work is causing them to work more hours than they did before the pandemic. Even when companies don't require remote work, parents often must do so because of quarantine issues at their children's school or child care facility.
Helping employees return to a healthy work-life balance can improve retention. Here are four employee retention ideas based on rebalancing work and personal life.
1. Provide technology that promotes easy collaboration and automates routine tasks. Half of those surveyed said they'd leave their jobs if a new job provided them tools to help do their job better.
2. Realize that the real requirement is getting the job done, not working a specific number of hours. Develop fair policies that offer flexibility when employees need it.
3. Establish policies to reinforce a healthy work-life balance. For example, provide time off after completing significant projects, identify overworked people and provide them with paid time off, or develop programs that help employees improve their ability to sleep and regroup.
4. Actively support wellness programs for employees. For example, consider adding a gym membership or massage benefit. Also, consider providing access to meditation platforms and mental health benefits.
Employee Engagement Retention Strategies
Employees value meaningful work and want to feel that their skills and talents contribute to a worthwhile mission. They also want to think that the leadership team values their contributions.
5. Help employees connect the dots between what they do and your company's values and mission. Also, help employees see how your company's products or services improve customers' lives.
Remember the old anecdote about a traveler inquiring about the work of three stonecutters. The traveler asked each person what they were doing. The first grumbled and said, "cutting stones" The second one, a little more happily, said that he was a stonecutter whose goal was to earn enough money to go home. The third worker, however, said that he was a mason who was building a cathedral. The third worker understands how his skills fit into a great project to help humankind. An employee with this understanding is much less likely to leave their job.
6. Implement policies that encourage creativity. For example, Google allows employees to spend 20 percent of their time on projects that interest them. Other policies might reward employees who make and help implement creative suggestions. Consider establishing teams to work together on product or workplace innovations. Find ways to create a fun work environment.
Career Development Retention Strategies
Employees value an opportunity to grow and develop in their careers. Employees also tend to be loyal to companies that invest in them. Employees want companies to make a much more significant investment than simply posting job openings. They want to build skills for current and future jobs and clearly understand available career paths. They also want to connect with in-house project opportunities that build skills and individuals who can help build their careers.
7. Create promotion pathways. Employees want to see a clear advancement pathway and understand what they need to do to keep moving upward. One of the reasons employees seek a new job is for a promotion; if they can see promotional opportunities at their current employer, they are more likely to remain. Once a company creates promotional pathways, employees can connect with experts and branch out from their team. Employees also can undertake stretch assignments to build new skills.
8. Invest in ongoing learning and development. A 2020 LinkedIn report says that 94 percent of employees will stay with their company longer if the company provides professional development opportunities. These opportunities could include internal training programs and attendance at external conferences and webinars. They also could also include mentorship programs and the development of an internal culture of talent mobility.
9. Provide more positive feedback. Feedback helps employees improve their performance, but sometimes managers tend to criticize more than praise. A Harvard Business Review article says that the ideal praise to criticism ratio is 5.6 positive to 1 critical. Employees who receive positive feedback are motivated to continue to do good work.
Strategies to Improve Relationships
Relationships are important to employees, and respect, trust, and good communication are keys to employee retention. Here are some ways to improve relationships in your organization.
10. Focus on frontline managers. A 2019 survey found that 57 percent of employees quit because of their managers. An additional 32 percent had considered leaving because of their boss. Fortunately, proper management training can dramatically improve managers' communications and leadership skills. Companies also can improve managerial effectiveness by evaluating management skills and offering training and mentorship at all levels, especially for new managers.
11. Require and encourage transparent communication. Managers should get to know their workers and encourage workers to get to know each other as well. Managers could be encouraged to have a short conversation with each employee every week, whether remotely or in person. Leaders should also encourage employees to speak their minds and provide feedback on their performance.
It's critical to break down the silos and barriers that exist between divisions and colleagues. Technology can be be an asset here as well. A robust people directory can empower people to find the help and expertise they need to learn skills and systems in real time.
12. Encourage team check-ins. Teams can keep the lines of communication open by having a daily check-in time. Check-in can be virtual or in-person. An effective check-in time is short but allows each employee to talk about progress on their projects and ask for help. It is also an opportunity for employees to share particular work-life challenges they may be facing if they are inclined to do so.
Strategies to Compensate Employees Fairly
In today's competitive environment, compensation plays a critical role in employee retention. Even employees who feel appreciated may look outside their workplace if they feel that their compensation is not keeping up with inflation or the market. Here are some strategies to ensure your compensation package is up-to-date.
13. Revise your compensation strategy to financially reward top performers. Top performers will be in demand at other companies, yet they are the employees you most want to keep. Consider tying raises or bonuses into achieving certain goals. When revising your strategy, communicate it clearly. When employees perceive compensation as unfair, they lose trust in management and disengage. Job dissatisfaction and resignations follow.
14. Revamp your benefits package. A recent Forbes article says that 74 percent of workers believe employers should re-evaluate their pre-pandemic benefits packages, and 43 percent believe that benefits are more critical than salary. Lower employee health care costs, more flexible family leave policies, and access to mental health benefits can make the difference between an employee staying with the company or leaving.
- Today's labor market favors employees. Companies need to rethink their employee policies and strategies to retain their top talent.
- Employees are more satisfied in their jobs when the leadership values a healthy work-life balance, clearly defines how their role fits with the company's mission, values their career growth, communicates well, and compensates them fairly.
Structural's internal Opportunity Marketplace allows employees to grow in their careers, build relationships, and work together on creative tasks that interest them. See how Structural's platform can help you meet employee engagement and retention goals.