Today’s workplace extends well beyond the physical office as companies have rolled out work-from-home measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Though several companies, especially in the tourism, hospitality, and aviation sector, have had to resort to massive lay-offs, voluntary employee turnover is a significant cause of concern for HR professionals.
Now that several workplaces are reopening with staggered shifts and employees reporting to the office on a rotational basis, it’s essential to introduce proper measures to ensure employee safety and retain top talent.
With the increasing mix of Millennials and Gen Z in the workforce, there is a growing need for organisations to focus on flexibility, employee wellness, and delivering an optimal employee experience. Failure to do so can lead to unwanted consequences like employee turnover as employees tend to look for better prospects elsewhere and leave as soon as they have found an alternative.
The job market in such turbulent times is best termed as ‘uncertain’. However, employees still have the upper hand and are willing to move to another organisation that better fulfils their needs. Losing talented people during a crisis can be a real blow to business productivity, considering that more companies are also announcing hiring freezes.
Reasons for a Surge in Employee Turnover Post-Pandemic
Here are some of the primary causes of employee turnover and why employees may be unhappy, thereby causing them to quit:
- Lack of Social Interaction
- Unhealthy Relationship with Manager or Supervisor
- Increase in workload
- Not Satisfied with Compensation and Rewards
- Workplace Health and Safety Issues
- No Support for Employee Wellness and Mental Health on the part of the Employer
- Lack of Autonomy and Flexibility
- Poor Team Morale
- Lack of Growth Opportunities
Importance of Keeping a Check on Employee Churn
All organisations must invest in employee retention strategies to avoid losing a reliable workforce and enable a healthy workplace culture. Since tenured employees possess the knowledge and relationships critical for business growth, controlling employee turnover should be prioritised.
Moreover, the cost of recruiting and training is quite substantial. Whenever an employee leaves the company, it’s common to witness disruption in productivity before a new hire is ready to embrace their new responsibilities.
According to a survey of CEOs, talent risk – the risk of attracting and retaining high-quality talent- was cited as the biggest risk post-COVID by 21% of all respondents. Now that companies are open to hiring remote workers, they can easily onboard employees from scattered geographical locations. This has opened up new opportunities for both employees and employers alike.
However, workers’ expectations have proliferated with safe working conditions, flexibility, transparency, technology, and better benefits ranking among the top considerations.
Thus, it is all the more critical for organisations to keep a tab on voluntary turnover at the workplace and keep their employees happy.
Effective Employee Retention Techniques You Must Implement
Despite the adverse effects of COVID-19, it has taught us all to be adaptive and resilient. It’s undeniable that the ‘new normal’ has helped businesses learn new things and challenge old assumptions. Yet, this new way of functioning has brought essential employee retention strategies worth paying attention to.
The onus is on the management and HR to introduce and improvise new work methods, policies, and strategies to build and nurture an emotional connection with employees. As a result, employees are likely to feel more valued and invested in achieving the company’s goals.
Here are some effective employee retention techniques to try:
1. Supportive Management Approach
Remote teams are inherently decentralised and disparate. However, it’s essential to create the right support system for teams to work coherently.
This starts at the top. Leadership teams should place equal emphasis on employees’ mental and emotional well-being rather than viewing them as corporate practices. Enforcing a psychologically safe work environment is more important than ever as work and life become intertwined.Leadership teams should place equal emphasis on employees’ mental and emotional well-being rather than viewing them as corporate practices. Click To Tweet
Thus, taking a supportive approach to show that you care for your employees can help them tackle any crisis. You can exhibit continuous support with regular communication, foster transparency, and promote initiatives like wellness seminars, mental health programs, and financial planning sessions. This can help employees resolve their work and personal problems.
2. Rightful Compensation and Benefits
One of the top reasons employees leave an organisation is because they feel underpaid or don’t get sufficient benefits. Therefore, companies should ensure to provide their employees competitive benefits. Some of the most critical health benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic include paid leave, health insurance, flexible working, employee assistance programs, and childcare support. This way, the employees will feel less affected by financial, emotional, and physical stress and be more loyal to their organisations.
3. Safety Assurance
The most important thing for workers, especially during uncertain times, is to feel safe and have a protective work environment. A safe workplace not just means a physically safe location for employees but also an emotionally safe work environment.
Companies must communicate with their employees about the safety policies they have incorporated in the workplace and continually review health surveillance policies, provide health and wellbeing guidance, and revisit workplace control measures. This will earn the confidence of their employees that the organisation is doing everything in its power to prioritise safe work conditions.
A safe workplace not just means a physically safe location for employees but also an emotionally safe work environment.
Consequently, it can lead to heightened loyalty among employees and ensure that they feel at ease.
Here are a few suggestions for the same:
- Implement employee assistance programs.
- Create a Health and Wellness Corner virtually or physically where employees can share best practices and recommendations to stay healthy.
- Create a communication platform for employees to voice out concerns.
- Support employee wellness initiatives by hosting virtual health seminars.
- Address employee mental health and wellbeing by offering counselling sessions, if needed, or conducting mental wellness sessions.
4. Emphasise on Recognition
With remote working becoming common, recognition plays a pivotal role to increase engagement and dispel negativity. Organisations can implement formal and informal recognition programs in this regard, such as:
- Appreciating employees for their sincere efforts, hard work and accomplishments during team calls, one-on-one calls or emails.
- Hosting virtual celebrations to acknowledge milestones and recognise team successes to boost morale.
- Posting thank you notes in the public intranet networks or individual team chats.
- Incentive programs based on performance.
- Rewards and gift cards to celebrate the best performers and encourage continued performance.
Integrating employee recognition into their corporate culture can help companies drive engagement and loyalty. Thus, both managers and team members will be more inclined to naturally recognise each other’s efforts and build a healthy workplace.
5. Be Flexible
As the lines between work and personal life blur, it’s easy for employees to become overburdened as they juggle multiple responsibilities. Thus, it becomes imperative for companies to promote flexibility.
When it comes to flexibility, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work, and managers should have conversations with their team to identify what type of flexibility they require. For instance, some parents may be homeschooling their children or taking care of senior citizens, wherein such exceptional circumstances may need flexible work hours around those times.
Hence, companies should strive to work with their employees to understand such special situations and set schedules or boundaries that can enable employees to put their best foot forward.
6. One-on-one Check-ins and Conversation
Instead of having occasional formal discussions, organisations should hold personal meetings to ensure that employees are feeling comfortable or have any immediate concerns.
Since physical interaction isn’t possible, it’s essential to have personal check-ins more often. Simply asking “How are you doing?” or “Are there any concerns you would like to discuss” will show that the management cares about their workers and encourage them to shed any inhibitions they might have. As a result, this will help employees feel valued and create a greater sense of commitment.
7. Invest in Learning and Development Initiatives
When you invest in strengthening the employees’ knowledge base and hone their skills, it contributes to the organisation’s objectives and goals in the long run. Even while operating remotely, you can consider several e-learning courses for employee upskilling and ensure that professional development is continuous. When employees are empowered with new skills, companies can also consider rotating them to a new role than recruiting external talent. Thus, learning and development opportunities create a win-win situation.
Some ideas for implementing professional development initiatives include:
- Corporate online training.
- Hosting webinars and virtual conferences.
- Introducing mentorship programmes for high-performing employees.
- Encouraging team members to watch educational videos like Masterclass, Ted Talks and asking them to summarise their learnings.
- Schedule monthly or quarterly skip-level interactions where leaders and top management can present their experiences or provide training on relevant topics.
8. Use Technology Wisely
Our reliance on technology and digital tools has become greater by the day. However, as much as we use tools like Slack, Zoom, Teams, etc., it’s easy to overuse technology without paying attention to the ‘human’ elements.
Instead of sending messages back and forth every thirty minutes, it might encourage phone calls or video conferences to ensure that messages are conveyed as humanly as possible. Overusing technology can lead to burnout which is one of the prime contributing factors to attrition. Thus organisations should ensure to pay attention to use technology as an asset rather than a liability.
9. Introduce Fun Team Activities
Work from home on a long term basis can lead to monotony and loneliness, resulting in employees feeling less enthusiastic on certain days. It’s beneficial to hold fun team gatherings or virtual happy hours once or twice a week to break the monotony and build a fun environment.
Such activities can help cultivate meaningful connections within the team and give employees a sense of belonging and attention that everybody craves for. Organisations can consider hosting a virtual talent night or have employees share their interests outside of work. This will keep employees engaged and help them adapt better to the virtual work environment.
10. Establish Regular Communication
Last but not the least, give constant communication the top priority so that everybody is on the same page. As employees can no longer have coffee break chats, lunchroom meet-ups, or water cooler conversations, organisations need to adapt their communication strategy.
Ensure that right from the top management leaders to last line employees, open communication lines are maintained to keep all in the loop and encourage involvement. Schedule weekly town halls to discuss business updates, highlight priorities, and regular touchpoints between managers and teams to frequently provide feedback for improvement and consistent performance.
This way everybody knows what to do and is not left behind without a clue about their priorities and tasks. Besides, it’s critical to encourage social interactions and communication to prevent boredom and employee burnout. Thus, establish a formal and informal line of communication for greater transparency and camaraderie in the virtual workplace.
Employee Retention = Employee Experience + Employee Engagement
When workers feel that they are part of a family, they tend to exhibit greater commitment levels and continue to stay loyal to their organisations.
The key to retaining employees is making them feel comfortable, happy, appreciated, and understood at all times. As we navigate the pandemic and its aftermath, the more you factor in your employees’ emotional and psychological needs, the more engaged, healthy, and productive your workforce will be.
As a result of healthy and happy employees, retention will no longer be a cause of concern. When workers feel that they are part of a family, they tend to exhibit greater commitment levels and continue to stay loyal to their organisations. Thus, the right retention strategy should build a deeper connection with employees through proactive feedback and continuous iteration.
Does your workplace culture create a sense of belonging and purpose for employees? If not, it’s time to rethink your retention strategies.