A New World, A New Workforce
Employee retention has become a term that sparks panic for many business owners, as they struggle to bring their employee numbers back up to pre-pandemic levels. But the so-called Great Resignation isn’t the baffling puzzle many news outlets make it out to be. In fact, the solution is quite simple: workers are whole human beings with more to their lives than what they bring to their jobs— and the key to post-pandemic employee retention is acknowledging that fact with tangible changes that improve their quality of life.
Post-Pandemic Employee Retention: Simpler Than You Think
High turnover doesn’t just cost your company financially; it damages your company culture and the engagement of other employees. So how do you get people to stick with you? Here are the four main strategies we’ve found to help meet your workers’ needs and keep them with you for the long haul.
1. Boost Your Employment Package
While it’s true that many workers will take a pay cut in order to do work they find meaningful, it’s also true that most people won’t stay in a job where they’re continually underpaid even if they love what they do. A competitive salary is important, but it has to be partnered with other benefits. Good health care, generous PTO and sick leave policies, an allowance for home office equipment, and child care stipends are all factors that go into a competitive employment package. Performing (or hiring someone to perform) an analysis of the packages offered by similar businesses in your area can help you make sure your offers are competitive across the board, not just in the salary department.
A robust remote working policy will also be a crucial part of any post-pandemic offer package. Studies overwhelmingly show that the ability to work from home has helped many employees finally achieve the elusive work-life balance— and most aren’t willing to go back to how it was before. Over 65% of people who worked from home during quarantine want to continue to do so at least part-time, and 40% say they would leave a job that didn’t offer remote working options.
2. Make Life At Work Less Stressful
Workers want a job that fits into the life they lead, not the other way around— and since the pandemic began, workplace safety is one of the most stressful topics for workers. Too many workplaces have lost employees due to pressuring them to come back to the office before they feel safe, or not putting in place robust enough policies to ensure they’re protected from the virus. Adopting strict policies around masking, vaccinations, and social distancing— and sticking to them— is one clear and easy way to reduce employee stress in the workplace.
Obviously there are other factors that go into employees’ stress levels. Understaffing has a high impact (and can begin a vicious cycle with post-pandemic employee retention if you’re not careful) and can lead to burnout and turnover. Flexibility around child care, illness, remote work, and other needs can greatly reduce employees’ stress regarding their job— and of course, providing paid sick time to all workers, even the hourly ones, is a surefire way to increase retention.
3. Don’t Just Say You Value Your Employees; Show It
Workers know when they’re undervalued, and that feeling is an immediate death knell to loyalty and retention. Offering competitive compensation as discussed in #1 is the biggest factor in making your employees know they’re valued, but it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. Employee appreciation will probably take a different form than it did in the pre-pandemic world (sending around takeout delivery gift cards instead of hosting an in-office lunch, for example), but adhering to outdated notions of what employee appreciation looks like can actually be worse than doing nothing, as it makes you seem out of touch with the reality of your workers’ daily lives.
To that end, recognizing the impact of the pandemic on everyone is the most important first step. All your employees, from the C-suite to the newest admin, have endured a lot in the past two years. Almost everyone is burned out, and many are still grieving personal losses. Recognizing your top performers (publicly and privately) and offering support to those who are struggling will make everyone feel seen and valued, improve morale, and keep loyalty high.
4. Ask Your Employees What They Want— Then Give It To Them
Ultimately, the needs of workers will vary between industries and organizations, and the only real way to know what your particular team needs is to ask them. Studies show employers often believe that their employees have the same needs and value the same things they do— but data often tells a different story, even before the pandemic changed what workers consider necessary in order to stay with a particular job.
Much of employees’ workplace stress is caused by issues within specific systems that as the business owner, you can ameliorate through improved communication, increased access to resources, and flexibility. Conducting “stay interviews” to find out who might be at risk for leaving (rather than waiting for them to quit and doing an exit interview) can also help you see patterns that highlight the biggest pain points. Focus groups, employee spot surveys, and 360-degree feedback can all fill in the gaps in your understanding of your organization’s current culture and your employees’ needs.
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