The last 18 months have instigated an unstoppable but necessary shift in priorities. After almost a year and a half of isolation and uncertainty, we’re all seeing a glimpse of normality as the economy starts to heal and many of us head back to the office. The pandemic has led many to think deeply about what they want from life: do they want to spend more time with their families? Or perhaps they want a better work-life balance at a company that values them as individuals and aligns with their plans for the future.
Individuals are setting their priorities straight and taking action, and there’s no going back from it. People are resigning from positions in their thousands, something that has been dubbed as the Great Resignation. It is not a singular moment in time; the pandemic has activated previously untapped consciousness inside many. The reevaluation of what matters has spurred people into action, it is an exciting moment of change and disruption, and it’s here to stay.
While employees see it as a moment of excitement and opportunity, organisations are naturally concerned about losing their most valuable asset: their employees. It’s up to organisations to determine how to approach this new era: with panic and fear or embrace the change positively by learning and improving from the experience. It may be tempting for companies to bury their heads in the sand, but the Great Resignation offers an unmissable opportunity to build back stronger and improve employee retention down the line in the process. Similarly, by embracing this work-life awakening with open arms, organisations can be better prepared to hire (and retain) new talent.
We’ve outlined a few steps people leaders can take, both big and small, to improve employee retention and build back stronger.
Try to look at things from the perspective of your employees. They resent significant changes that they have not been consulted about because those changes can affect their lives in a big way. A change they view as unfavourable may push them in the direction of resignation. The key is not to redesign the business from the centre. Consult employees on the elements of their pre-pandemic experiences that they want to restore and the elements they want to leave in the past. Don’t make assumptions about what you think is best for them because they are not one homogenous group that all think in the same way; they are individuals with their own preferences and priorities. Actively involve them in building the business post-pandemic and give them a voice; you’ll come out stronger as a result.
Up-skilling managers to have effective conversations with their teams about their work and their lives must be a key priority. Work and life are not two separate entities — they are intertwined, and managers should be adequately equipped to have honest, empathetic conversations with their employees to make them feel genuinely valued.
In consultation with employees, creating a new code of conduct around etiquette may help employees feel more connected with their colleagues and managers. For example, people leaders can establish etiquette best practices around meeting times, employee visibility and encourage understanding and consideration for all team members.
Try to think beyond compensation and benefits; a creative approach will encourage employees to stay engaged with your business. For example, learning opportunities and coaching platforms will enable your employees to focus on their professional development, which will help keep them motivated. Or perhaps you could start offering more flexible employment models such as sabbatical leave to allow employees to pursue other interests for a time — just some food for thought.
Inevitably, organisations will lose people that they want to retain. Still, it would be best if you embraced this unique opportunity to find new perspectives, and in the process, attract new talent to help the business flourish. There’s no time like the present to sharpen your employee value proposition to cut through the noise other companies are making and showcase your businesses’ compelling stories to individuals seeking new opportunities.
Can we help you map out your own employer experience, and see where you’re delivering and where you could improve? If you’d like to chat about what that might look like, message or drop a line to [email protected]people-made.com. We’d love to hear from you!