At no other time than now has it been more apparent that people are one of a company’s greatest assets. Employers are struggling to retain talent, burnout has soared to new heights due to the stress and strain of COVID-19, and employee expectations of the post-pandemic workplace are changing.
The impact on businesses spans all generations and industries, leaving employers with two complex employee retention and recruiting questions: 1) Why are employees leaving? and 2) How should organizations adapt to the post-pandemic world to help retain talent?
The solution is really two-fold:
1. Find ways to retain existing employees
2. Recruit and onboard with an intent to retain new employees
In the current environment, we’ve seen several employee retention strategies work for organizations across industries. Below are a few:
- Understand why employees are leaving. If you are unsure why people are exiting, ask them to inform a better retention plan/strategy. What would make them stay? Is there something specific that could have been accommodated had it been known prior to their notice? Consider surveying or offering an open forum with current employees to provide the opportunity to learn about their current concerns.
- Recognize and promote wellness and mental health within the workplace. Many people were severely impacted by COVID-19 (anxiety and fear, related health issues, and personal loss) and are still feeling the effects of the pandemic. How can you, as an employer, support your organization during this time? Conduct a wellness check with your employees to better understand the current pulse and how to best accommodate. Do your employees have options to reach out for counseling through their benefits? Do they need a reduced schedule to help get them through this challenging period? What would help?
- Consider conducting “stay interviews”. Exit interviews are common; however, the concept of a stay interview is one of the most impactful emerging employee retention strategies. In a stay interview you engage with current employees to understand what makes them stay, what motivates them, and what would potentially make them consider leaving the company. Not only does the stay interview help to build and instill trust, but it is also forward-thinking and provides an opportunity to address concerns before they become a retention issue. It also demonstrates how much you value the employee and their input and commitment to the company.
- If you consider introducing the stay interview, you may discover that organizational changes are required in order to allow people to stay. Encouraging employees to contribute to the conversation only works if the company is willing to be accommodating to the needs those employees express. Stay interviews should also be conducted regularly, allowing employees to engage, build trust, and share continually.
- Review your recruiting and onboarding process. While people can professionally give a two-week notice and then depart relatively easily, the effort to recruit, onboard, and train a new hire can take significantly longer and is expensive. Right now, it’s necessary to prioritize a review of your recruiting and onboarding process and consider any changes that will allow you to better align and manage your employee retention strategy. Poll your recent hires, get their input – how was their personal onboarding experience and transition? What could have made it better? Consider the potential for boomerang employees – are there any opportunities to rehire someone who has recently left the company? Perhaps consider adding an informal check-in with employees who have recently left voluntarily, or an alumni network to keep the potential for boomerang employees as a recruiting option. This employee retention strategy can reduce the time spent on recruiting, onboarding, and training as a boomerang employee will be able to step back in to help more immediately.
- Strengthen employee-manager relationships. With more remote work and less “face” time, employees and managers still need to connect and strengthen their relationships. Start your check-ins off with a wellness check, before discussing the tasks and workload. Continue to recognize employee efforts to help maintain connections and support.
- Communicate career growth opportunities. It is extremely important to employees to see there are growth opportunities available to them as they plan for developing skills. When were the last time employee skills were assessed and changes made?
- Company culture check. Your company culture most likely has been impacted and changed with the pandemic and remote work. With fewer in-person opportunities to engage and build relationships, how can you keep your company culture present? Are you bringing the organization together and providing the opportunity to connect? If this had been placed on the backburner, now is the time to re-engage and actively start planning for and managing your company culture again.
With change comes opportunity. In taking the time now to review and adjust your current employee retention strategies, you’re investing in your people and planning for a stronger future workforce.