‘The Great Resignation’, started by 4 million people quitting their jobs in the US in April 2021, is proof that people want very different things for their lives, and their employment conditions and terms are going to have to be flexible, to accommodate what they want. Employee retention is in every organization’s priority list especially over the last couple of years, and companies are doing their best – listening, trying to understand what is important to their employees, offering them flexibility, and working with employees to make it a win-win for all.
As reported by IBM, “Recent IBC research found that while 80% of executives said their companies were supporting the physical and emotional health of employees, only 46% employees agreed… while 76% of executives said their organizations were providing adequate training on new ways to work during the pandemic, only 38% of employees agreed.” They go on to report: “This level of misunderstanding can feel deeply frustrating to employees who have made clear requests and demands for what they need in the workplace.”
It is becoming increasingly clear that employees have started looking at their jobs through sharper lenses – it has to cater to them in a holistic fashion. Career advancement opportunities, employer ethics, values, empathy towards their individual requirements, work from home, perks, and compensation – all these are deciding factors. High turnover rates point towards significant room for improving employee experience.
I believe Leaders and Managers can contribute the most to employee retention which in turn produces stability and builds trust at the workplace, leading to employees choosing to remain with the company and growing there.
Gallup reports that 2020 saw unprecedented fluctuations at the workplace culture worldwide, and that manager development and engagement ought to be a priority for Leaders. “In 2020, manager engagement, already low, declined from 34% to 33% in the first to second half of the year. The engagement of managers is critical because they set the tone for the engagement of the people who report to them – managers affect 70% of the variance in team engagement. They are responsible for keeping employees informed on what is going on in the organization, setting priorities, and providing ongoing feedback and accountability.” In their estimate, they say the cost of replacing an employee ranges from 1.5 to 2 times their annual remuneration, and C-suite positions turnover costs go as high as 213% of salaries.
While the talent acquisition teams go through the stress of having to replace exited employees in very little time, the new employees don’t necessarily come attuned to the collaboration styles or the dynamics within the company, and there is very little guarantee about their retention. Heavy attrition also leads to low team morale, low productivity, and possibly low trust and engagement.
The opportunities are numerous and with the job market picking up and switching jobs is seen as one way to increase compensation! Janco reports, “Recovery of the IT job market continues as all of the jobs in the IT Job Market lost in 2020 due to COVID and the related shutdowns have been recovered.” The current forecast is that “close to 108K new IT jobs will be added in the 2021 calendar year.”
With the job market so wide open, and with the flexibility of being able to work for any organization across the globe from wherever home is to one, retention leans a lot on a few things we can narrow down to.
Employees always remember how they are treated by their Leaders. If there are elements within managerial styles that leads to distrust, the discomfort leads to the maximum number of exits. With all the struggles, adjustments, and insecurities that the pandemic has led us into, a people-centric workplace is the priority for employees where they feel it would be a safe place to grow their careers.
Though work from home initially came in as a refreshing change into our lives given that there were no commute hours to consider, more time with the family, etc., the pandemic seems to have swept off our downtime completely. With travels being canceled out, there has been no real vacation, and add that to long work hours that some projects need to put in, employees are burnt out. Health is a big priority for all, a huge lesson from the pandemic and lack of work-life balance is another evolving factor leading to attrition.
The unexpected flexibility that came in over the last year has had people realize that they now have a choice to work remotely, with absolutely no harm done to productivity. There is an interesting article by Bloomberg which says employees are quitting instead of giving up work from home – “drive to get people back into offices is clashing with workers who’ve embraced remote work as the new normal.” Flexibility allows the work environment to be conducive to each employee – it could be high performers compelled to relocate seeking remote working, or new parents needing more days off, allowing part-time work, job rotations, benefits, sabbaticals, special leaves, etc.
According to American Management Association, “professional and personal development are important components of employee workplace satisfaction. This makes talent development an important ingredient in the well-being of a team and organization. In addition, there is a strong link between creativity and development opportunities in the workplace. Creativity thrives in a dynamic and growing environment and is a catalyst for development.” Providing training and learning opportunities increase engagement, morale and instill a sense of belonging and increased collaboration. Always find out what tools can help them bring their best to work.
Let employees know that they are being heard and encourage feedback through regular surveys and qualitative discussions which will give them the assurance that they matter and are valued. Listen to what employees are saying and act on their feedback. That’s the only way to improve trust which will improve retention in a big way.
Career growth and visibility into their future are great motivations for employees to stick to an organization. Providing employees with interesting, challenging work and opportunities increases their affinity to the company. An open and healthy environment to express ideas and give feedback, opportunities, and encouragement to stretch across functions are organic ways to increase employee retention.
Rewards and recognition are a wonderful way to show employees’ effort. Employee recognition should be a daily norm. It’s been proven to increase productivity levels and create a heightened sense of belonging. When employees feel appreciated for their work and contributions, it inspires and strengthens loyalty. They take pride in their work and are able to relate to their contribution to the organization’s success.
Employee retention has become a very pressing problem in these times, leaders are often looking for that one thing, the secret component to solve attrition and improve employee retention. The fact of it is, there is no single component, not even compensation, not those huge retention bonuses to counter offers from the biggies, it is a combination of all of the above that gives employees reasons to stay. Taking the effort to understand why the attrition is happening and taking timely actions can play a key role in ensuring sustainable growth.
“You don’t build a business—you build people—and then people build the business. You cannot have a successful business without a lot of successful people helping to grow it.” –Zig Ziglar
About the Author –
Bindu Vijayan takes care of Employee Experience at GAVS, she works towards creating an environment that’s conducive to passion and make employees feel valued as individuals. She is an avid reader, enjoys music and poetry, and is a devoted mother and a grand-mother. An ardent Kafka fan, she relates to his famous quote, “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” Back to blogs