The Great Resignation. The Great Regret. The Great Reset.
Retention is a recurring topic in the monthly executive human resources mastermind group I facilitate. At virtually every meeting, recruiting, onboarding, resignations, and other facets of retention are at the front of the members’ minds. They want a magic pill, the secret process, or anything that can help alleviate the consistent – and irritating – turnover currently occurring at all levels in their organizations.
There is no magic pill. No enchanted potion to offer employees to get them to stay. No miraculous remedy that drives long-term retention.
But there is a common theme: The Employee Experience.
Consider these stats from a recent Grant Thornton survey:
80% of employees surveyed want flexibility in when and where they work
29% are actively looking for a new job with a different company
51% are not actively looking for a new job but would still consider a switch if the opportunity arose
21% left a job and started a new one in the last 12 months
43% cite personal debt as their greatest stressor, while 22% cite mental health
Here’s another statistic: About one in five of those people who resigned during the pandemic say they regretted it, according to a recent Harris Poll survey for USA Today.
Human Resources Executives know that organizations must focus on the employee experience in order to improve retention, increase productivity, and realize their strategic goals. They also know that most employees have a desire to develop their professional competencies, so providing employees an understanding of an organization’s succession planning process and the pathway for promotion is a key element of retention.
Unfortunately, many organizations that I speak with are still not putting the employee experience first. The leading consequence of this attitude is that their employees will look for other employers who will. So, what is a leader to do?
Let’s assume that, if you’re a leader reading this, you’re “one of the good ones.” You’re a continuous learner who cares about quality leadership and workplaces. You want your team members to be satisfied with their jobs and want to come to work every day. You are interested in improving the Employee Experience.
Here are six steps you can take right now to lessen the impact of the “Great Resignation” on your organization.
Go on a listening tour. Let people know their input matters, not just now, but all the time. Have an open-door policy that really means “open-door”: have set hours throughout the week that are assigned for personal discussions. Discuss their work satisfaction, their challenges, and their aspirations. A fun, but great conversation starter: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Be as flexible as you can when it comes to work arrangements, while still meeting reasonable standards for quality, productivity, and service. We’ve all learned that many of the positions within an organization can work remotely, and good leaders honor that option when practical. For positions that require in-office, -plant, or ‑warehouse presence, evaluate what it would take for those employees to consider the trek to and from home worthwhile.
Be especially sensitive to the abuse your customer-facing team may be enduring. Too often today, complaints about delays or errors escalate into ugly criticism – specifically (and erroneously) attributed to the employee speaking with the customer. Let your team know that an abusive customer is not, in every case, right. Design protocols for backup and de-escalation, even to the point of severing a business relationship with a bad client.
Have a plan for each person you lead. The more valuable your employees are for their skill sets, institutional knowledge, initiative, reliability, and teamwork, the more you need to focus on retaining them. If they leave, you not only will have a hard time finding another such gem, but their departure can be a blow to overall morale.
Assume that everyone on your team takes a moment to look at their own situation when other colleagues move on — whether for the best or worst of reasons. The remaining team members will ask themselves: Am I ambitious enough? Could I land a cool job like that? Is my job in any jeopardy? As a leader, you must work the room. Talk to your folks so you can hear some dreams and allay some fears. Manage by “walking” around.
Have a pipeline of potential hires. Today, good managers should assume that their people work with one eye on the door. They aren’t disloyal; they’re pragmatic. In a world that rarely promises people a job for life, or even routine raises, why would we think they should lock themselves in? Your best efforts might not be a match for a dream job elsewhere or a retirement accelerated by pandemic lessons, but your pipeline can put a buffer between you and lengthy gaps or hasty hires.
It’s time to reset and provide a viable, sustainable, and encouraging Employee Experience. Don’t give your employees a reason to up and quit. And if some do it anyway, if you’ve focused on the employee experience, you’ll know you’ve done your best to have created an environment that gives them something to regret.
You don’t have to do it alone. As an experienced business strategist and talent optimization expert, I believe that providing the best employee experience will ultimately give your customers the greatest client experience.
Let’s reset the great resignation to the Great Retention, together. Let’s chat.
P.S. Book a Complimentary Strategy Session so we can get you moving in the right direction; click on my Complimentary Strategy Session calendar link here and let’s book a time together so you can get started today!
P.P.S. With over three decades of professional experience in corporate operations and executive human resources, I am a proven results-driven leader. My expertise includes strategy, change management, talent management and organizational development, employee relations, and executive and leadership coaching. I am a highly effective communicator and team leader with demonstrated ability to build long-term relationships across internal and external customer environments built with integrity, confidence, authenticity, and trust.
 Grant Thornton survey: Over half of employees open to changing jobs; majority still want workplace flexibility | Business Wire 4/18/2022
 About 1 in 5 workers who quit their jobs during "Great Resignation" regret it, survey finds - CBS News 4/19/2022
 Elements taken from The Great Resignation: Reality or myth? (hfma.org) 4/19/2022