As the nation makes a comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be hearing more and more about “The Great Resignation” of 2021, and now 2022. This recently coined term refers to the overwhelming spike in quit rates across the U.S. as businesses get back on their feet this year. In fact, nearly 2.7% of workers in America left their jobs in April — the highest percentage we’ve seen in more than 20 years. Additionally, over the past year, 25-40% of workers have considered quitting their jobs. But what’s causing elevated quit rates and employee churn post-pandemic?
After a year of uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees that have weathered the storm are reconsidering and prioritizing their career paths. While last year, most workers valued job security in the face of an economic crisis, most employees are now re-evaluating their goals. Here are some of the key reasons this is happening now:
While the uptick in quit rates is a signal of economic recovery, businesses and HR pros are now wondering how to retain employees, continue to make them feel valued, and stay competitive in the booming job market. We’ve reached out to a number of business owners and HR experts for the best employee retention tips in 2022.
One of the best and easiest ways to improve employee retention is to make balance a non-negotiable. In a recent Indeed survey, over 50% of respondents are experiencing burnout this year. With remote work blurring the line between work life and home life, HR plays a key role in setting the expectation.
Gergo Vari, CEO and founder at Lensa, suggests, “Offering our people flexible work hours and remote work options has helped us keep employees happy and reduce turnover over the last year. Employees appreciate being able to have a say in when and where they work, and this perk can be a big selling point when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.
“When we first started the remote work shift, we found that managers were trying to micromanage employees’ work-life balance, and it was backfiring and creating more stress for everyone involved. Instead of telling employees how they should spend their time outside of work, businesses should trust that their employees will use their time wisely.”
“It is simply an instance of hustling culture when people become solely focused on their career aspirations and neglect their personal lives,” says Eric Jones, CEO of Couture Candy “Make sure your organization and company aren’t involved; otherwise, it can stifle a company’s originality or productivity, and its aims and accomplishments will be confined to doing chores.”
I feel that the simplest way to avoid hiring problems is to focus on maintaining current staff, says Martin Lassen, Founder & CEO of GrammarHow. Due of the rise in competition, a number of businesses are offering financial and educational incentives to attract candidates. Offer the same incentives as your competitors to keep your employees feeling appreciated and engaged. Ensure that your company is an interesting and desirable place to work by providing possibilities for professional growth, providing high-performing employees with stretch jobs to progress into, and listening to your staff regarding remote work and office hours. It has been demonstrated that both lateral and upward internal mobility increase employee retention. If they believe they cannot find a better opportunity elsewhere, employees will be more likely to remain with your organization. Make it a top priority to confirm that information is accurate.
One of the key reasons employees seek new opportunities is when they feel that there is nowhere else to go within the business, whether it’s pay or position. Kathryn McDavid, CEO of Editor’s Pick, says, “We’ve decided to instill a consistent schedule of possible pay raises in order to incentivize team members to go above and beyond with their responsibilities. Every quarter, we have in-depth employee performance reviews, and based on how well someone has hit their expectations, they’ll get a raise.”
Though most employers offer employees the proper training during the onboarding process, a large majority do not continue to offer resources to keep their abilities up to date.
Tanner Arnold, President & CEO of Revelation Machinery, says, “Remember that employees don’t always have extra time for training, and their lunch or break time is just that – their time. Make time for training classes during work hours, but don’t expect employees to attend a 4-hour class and then return to their regular tasks. Take a cue from YouTube and TikTok: short, incremental classes of 30 minutes or less are incredibly successful, and they allow employees to fit them into their calendar without creating a backlog of work to be caught upon.”
“To improve retention rate, make sure you hire selectively from the beginning. When hiring, consider things like diligence, attitude and integrity amongst other things like academic qualification, skills and experience. Also, pay your employees right. Keep a tab on industry compensation standards. Structure the bonus and benefits well. You may also offer flexible work schedules. Ensure employees are well prepared to do what their job requires like travel, late nights, vacations and so on,” says Olivia Tan, Co-Founder at CocoFax.
HR will want to review hiring criteria to make sure that the job responsibilities are fully covered and understood, even before an employee starts with the company. Nathan Murphy, Co-Founder and Owner of QuizBreaker adds, “What we’ve done to overcome this obstacle is to adjust our hiring process, mainly by adding new interview questions to see if an employee is prepared to handle the less glamorous parts of the position they’re applying for. It’s not that we’ll try to scare a potential hire away, but we will be very clear in our questioning to make sure they understand what’s required of them.”
“It’s important to celebrate your employee’s achievements since it encourages them to perform well in the future as well,” says Andrei Kurtuy, Co-Founder & CCO at Novorésumé This can include things like personalized gifts, vouchers, bonuses, and rewards when an employee achieves a long time goal or has completed another successful year at your organization.
“We have been working hard to develop a better culture of rewards and recognition using software that allows people to build social capital, recognize and be recognized by their coworkers for jobs well done, and receive praise and publicity from the company for promotions, important anniversaries, birthdays and the like. Creating this culture while working remotely is an important component of employee engagement and long-term interest in their jobs,” adds Markus Albert.
“Upper management regularly interacts with our team, especially our remote employees, to show our gratitude,” says Jonathan Zacharias, Founder of GR0 “I personally jump into Zoom meetings so I can learn more about the employees that are working from home.
“Recently, we have mailed gift packages to our remote team as a token of our appreciation. We understand that there are lots of opportunities on the job market today, so little bonus, in addition to fair compensation, goes a long way in 2022.”
During the pandemic, 4 in 10 adults in the United States have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, which is significantly higher than the year before. Employees are counting on HR and employers to help support healthy mental health practices.
Ravi Parikh, CEO of RoverPass Campground Reservation Software, states, “In addition to our previous sick leave package, we offer a set number of mental health days to each full-time employee. This prevents burnout by giving employees a way to take time off when they are struggling with anxiety, depression, and other difficulties with their mental health.”
Daivat Dholakia, Director of Operations at Force by Mojio, adds, “In addition to standard health benefits, we provide employees with funding for wellness-related costs and professional development training outside of the company. We additionally cover employees’ phone bills, with the understanding that they use their phones for work. Taking care of these costs signals to employees that we value the time and energy they spend making our company great. “
“This goes beyond simply providing a hybrid remote work environment and unlimited PTO,” advises Andreas Velling, Chief Marketing Officer at Fractory “You should check in with your team on a regular basis to assess their workload and overall happiness at the company. Scheduling check-in team meetings that have nothing to do with work is another tactic I’ve found effective in developing a great company culture.”
With most businesses going remote last year during COVID-19, many employees will not want to go back in the future at all. If your business is able to run on a remote or hybrid plan, now’s the time to consider making the switch.
Graham Beck, Co-Founder & CEO told of DropDesk, told us, “We found that eighty-four percent of employees say that not having to travel to their place of work is the most important benefit of working remotely. Employees have embraced remote work so much that in the U.S. alone, 39% of adults surveyed said they would consider quitting if it was taken off the table. That figure goes up to 49% if you talk to millennials and Gen Z employees. Due to this, hybrid work options have become one of the top factors in attracting and retaining talent in the workforce today.
“While 63% of high-growth companies have embraced remote work, 69% of companies that are either not growing or losing market share still insist on employees traveling full-time to a physical office for work.”
Markus Albert, Managing Director at EatFirst, says, “I think it is immensely important that employers don’t force a return to the office on people and give them the opportunity to continue working remotely, or at least in a hybrid arrangement, indefinitely. We realized very quickly when we started surveying our employees that people were comfortable and happy working from home and considered it an important perk.”
Heather Reid, Resource Manager at Ukulele Tabs offers another flexible alternative. “We addressed this issue by setting up a more relaxed approach where our workers can work whenever and however they want as long as they meet the deadline and the quality of work is up to our standard. Boom. Many transferred to this type of setup late in November and we only have less than five people who quit since then.”
Having the ability to digitally access onboarding documents, benefits plans, and pay stubs is equally important for HR professionals and employees. On one hand, with a modern HRIS, HR managers are able to streamline previously paper-based processes and checklists with the click of a button. On the other hand, employees feel empowered with the ability to check pay stubs, request PTO, and update personal information without having to go through another party. Upgrading to an HR software that offers onboarding, payroll, and time-tracking in a single log-in improves the employee experience exponentially, which in turn sets them up for success in the organization.
Are you sick leave policies in line with COVID-19 pandemic? Though we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the pandemic is still a very relevant issue for businesses across the nation.
Nate Tsang, Founder and CEO at WallStreetZen, suggests updating sick leave policies to improve retention. “Employers just need to make sure that their leave policies cover COVID -19 information, such as adding extra leave for those who will get tested and waiting for their results or even offering leave for employees who need to care for an infected person or live with one. If you take care of your employees properly, you won’t need to worry about them leaving your company.”
Once your employees are fully onboarded, how often do they meet with mentors (who aren’t their supervisors) for guidance? For many employers, onboarding doesn’t extend past the first week of employment. Establishing a mentorship program can create a stronger organizational identity and reduce quit rates.
Matt Weidle, Business Development Manager at Buyer’s Guide, states, “Employees benefit from mentorship because they believe they are valued and supported. It’s a key component of employee retention. Organizations need to invest in the growth and ongoing education of their leadership teams at every level, noting that this applies to leaders as well. Having a mentor from day one, someone they can go to who isn’t their supervisor and ask questions about the job, makes the individual feel more connected and less scared by the prospect of a new career with new chores and responsibilities.”
Magda Klimkiewicz, HR Business Partner at Zety, has tapped into the power of employee engagement tools to boost retention.
“Employers can boost retention by taking the pulse and getting an accurate reading of employees’ engagement levels via tools like Officevibe. Such tools keep HR professionals in the loop about how employees feel across the board and can flag potential retention issues so that HR professionals can react in time. E.g., improve feedback culture within a team, provide opportunities for growth, etc.”
Take events, happy hours, and team building activities to the next level by innovating and creating a stronger culture. Matt Pasut, President at CR Creative Co. Ltd., explains, “We are in the process of adopting permanent work-from-home roles to compete with the “big guys” who now have the ability to poach talent through virtual roles. We’ve also instituted paid Birthday’s, “surprise and delight” strategies, and virtual “Thirsty Thursdays” to ensure our work-from-home teams are still able to interact with the office staff in a fun and consistent manner.”
“One of the best things we’ve done is to create a new position called the “Director of Happiness”. The main goal of this position is to increase engagement from employees and to enhance our company’s culture. As a result of COVID-19, we’ve morphed this role into the Culture Committee so that more team members could participate. The team is doing a great job of keeping company morale high during this tough period. We’re doing Zoom happy hours, birthday celebrations and WFH slack channels!” – Brandon Chopp, Digital Manager for INTO THE AM & iHeartRaves
“We’ve handled quit rates by allowing for mental health days and a personal weekly round-up. The mental health days are just like paid sick leave: if you need a day to de-stress, you can take it. You can only do your best work when you feel your best, and this includes not just physical but also mental health.” – David Galownia, CEO at Slingshot.
Just as onboarding is crucial to the longevity of an employee’s career within an organization, so is offboarding. Exit interviews for quitting employees give HR a good grasp of what may need to change within the business, and how to prevent the same mistakes from happening over and over again.
Eduard Klein, Digital Growth Specialist at https://eduardklein.com/, emphasizes, “Employees quitting their job is inevitable, and the best course of action is to ask them the reasons why. Gather data on why they chose to leave the company, and from there, formulate a plan on how to prevent this from occurring again.”
Being honest and transparent with your team members about business stability reminds them of their importance in the success of the organization. HR managers and leadership should take extra steps to keep employees informed on business plans.
“Communicate to employees about business plans, future prospects, and business continuity and success metrics. Organizations need to ensure employees feel supported during crises and don’t have to worry or be overwhelmed with their job security and financial stability. When employees are confident in organizational offerings and can put their trust in organizations taking care of not just the employee, but also their families, the employee churn rate is reduced.” – Gargi Rajan, Head HR, Mercer | Mettl
“Corporate workers today are as ambitious as ever, and most of them are keen on upskilling themselves for career growth. I decided to facilitate this, seeing it as another win-win opportunity – employees who keep upgrading their skillset are assets for any company. And, they’ll be less likely to leave when you keep on supporting their career advancement. I encourage my employees to look up courses and training opportunities within their job scope, and once they have my approval, the company funds the required fee.” – Anjela Mangrum, Founder and President at Mangrum Career Solutions
Whether or not your business is directly feeling the impacts of “The Great Resignation”, it’s crucial as an HR professional to continuously reflect on your employee retention strategies for a brighter future at your company. One of the key ways to better manage and keep employees in the loop is to adopt modern HR technology. If you’re ready to explore your HRIS options, take a free interactive tour of GoCo to see how we can help!