Talent Retention Best Practices for the Remote Work Era

Talent Retention Best Practices for the Remote Work Era

Previously, employees spent their whole career with the same organisation – it was rare that they considered changing jobs. However, this trend has changed.

Over the years, as more businesses have cropped up, the competition for quality talent has increased. But more companies mean more job opportunities and more choices for people. In addition, the rise of head-hunters and recruitment apps have made job hunting more effortless than ever before. These factors also encourage younger employees, who are comfortable with mobility and new experiences, to frequently move organisations for higher-paying roles and career growth.

Moreover, during times of an economic downturn, high retrenchment levels have reinforced the feeling that companies are not loyal to their employees and the professional relationship is solely a business arrangement.

Therefore, over the years, employee loyalty has dropped, and now, employees do not think twice about leaving a company that does not consider their needs.

With the pandemic thrown into the mix, this situation has only been amplified.

Impact of COVID-19 on Employee Turnover

It has become apparent that COVID-19 has badly affected economies and businesses worldwide. It has brought with it substantial retrenchment rates and the closure of many businesses.

Through the pandemic and in the face of job insecurity, most employees have held onto their jobs.

However, now that the situation is slowly limping back to normal after the second wave, companies expect that the number of employees moving jobs will soon escalate.

Apart from the regular movement of people in the context of new and better opportunities, there are also several pandemic-induced factors.

Here are a few:

1. Burnout

Many reports state that working from home has increased productivity and cut commute time, costs, and stress, which are all great. However, working from home also means no mental or physical separation of work and the workspace.

Although some people have loved working from home or remotely, it does have its pros and cons.

Many reports state that working from home has increased productivity and cut commute time, costs, and stress, which are all great. However, working from home also means no mental or physical separation of work and the workspace. Pre-pandemic, once the employee left for home, it was usually the end of the workday.

However, now, work has begun to spill well into what was considered personal time before the pandemic.

According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index, workers in India face increased burnout due to a lack of separation between work and personal life and concerns of contracting COVID-19.

Burnout will be a huge influencing factor in people’s decision to leave their current organisation.

2. Stagnation 

Everyone wants career growth. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees may have been working their way towards a promotion, looking to upskill or develop themselves in some way professionally. Some may have even been looking to switch companies. But all these plans had to be put on pause when the pandemic hit, leaving many people feeling deflated and frustrated.

Most have borne the feelings of stagnation and being trapped through the pandemic because of fear of job loss. The whole negative psychological effect of COVID-19 has not helped the situation either.

Stagnation could also be a reason why people choose to move on after the pandemic.

3. Disengaged employees 

Keeping employees engaged was never easy. Remote working and the physical distance has made it even more challenging for management to fulfil its responsibility to keep employees committed, engaged, and maintain strong emotional ties. In a remote working situation, the usual engagement strategies probably won’t work.

The situation has left many employees feeling alienated from their colleagues and disconnected from their work and their organisations.

This could be yet another reason employees choose to leave in the aftermath of the pandemic.

But let’s face it, pandemic or not, talent wars have long since become a reality, and companies have had to put employee retention strategies in place to make an effort to keep their most valuable asset- their employees.

But it is not only about retaining talent!

It is also about keeping company morale high and creating a strong employer brand (potential employees tend to be suspicious of companies with a high turnover rate), and creating a strong talent base that helps in its overall success.

These are some of the many reasons why it is important for companies to retain their talent.

Current Trends in Talent Retention Strategies

Right now, companies are offering employees benefits like:

1. Learning and Development (L&D) opportunities

In today's competitive talent landscape, it makes complete sense for businesses to develop their employees and strengthen the internal talent pool instead of looking for it elsewhere. Click To Tweet

Companies have long been using the L&D card to their advantage.

They have been using it as an important influencing factor in the recruitment process and as a hook to retain employees, particularly because employees tend to stay with companies that put a great impetus on learning, growth, and career development. Stagnation in career and learning is one of the most common reasons people leave companies.

However, upskilling and developing employees can be a win-win situation for both employees and the company.

By upskilling and developing employees, companies can prevent them from feeling stagnant and also reap the benefits from their newly learned skills.

In today’s competitive talent landscape, it makes complete sense for businesses to develop their employees and strengthen the internal talent pool instead of looking for it elsewhere.

2. Ensuring better work-life balance 

Balance is essential in every aspect of life, and the same goes for one’s professional and personal life. Everyone wants to have an equilibrium between their work and family life.

Many companies have realised that this is an increasing need among employees and have developed exclusive and attractive work-life balance policies. This attracts better job seekers, reduces employee work-life conflict, and enhances employee and organisational performance.

3. Being committed to DEI

Having strong company policies that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a step in the right direction for greater workforce representation.

A diverse and inclusive workforce is beneficial to productivity and ROI and also contributes to a happy and healthy work culture and professional environment.

But it is also crucial for companies to be committed to an environment that is diversity-friendly and supportive. If the workplace environment is not conducive to diversity, employees will quickly look for better pastures.

What Companies Need to Start Doing Differently

Covid has, however, changed the needs of the employee. A recent study done by KPMG has shown that CEOs of the world’s most influential companies have identified talent risk as one of the most significant challenges to growth.

Therefore, it becomes crucial for companies to consider a host of new factors (in addition to all the above factors) to build a strong retention strategy and stay updated with the trends affecting their human resources.

Talent retention best practices in 2021 start with: 

1. Hiring the right personnel 

If companies want to retain the talent they hire, they have to hire the right talent!

It has always been important to hire the right talent for the right role, but post-COVID has become even more vital.

However, the role is not the only thing companies need to consider- company culture is also essential. Companies should hire only the candidates that they think will be the right fit for their culture. Candidates who do not fit in or feel welcome in an environment are unlikely to stay.

Therefore, the screening and interviewing process becomes crucial in the retention strategy.

2. Having competitive salary and compensation packages

As organisations find themselves facing the aftermath of the Covid crisis, it becomes crucial for them to evaluate and update their salaries and compensation packages. Studies show that average increments in India fell from 8.6 % in 2019 to 3.6 % in 2020, with only 40% of companies giving increments.

However, organisations need to quickly recognise the necessity for them to offer competitive salaries, increments and strategically tailor their benefits programmes to the demographics and needs of their employees. This will also put them in a position to maintain their talent and become the employer of choice. More important than offering the best benefits is to provide employees with benefits that are valuable and important to them.

Hence, it is essential for employers to understand the actual needs of their people.

3. Alleviating employee stress and other troubles

Stress at the workplace can be one of the biggest obstacles to employee engagement.

Heavy workloads, job insecurity, and lack of empathy on the company’s part can overwhelm employees and significantly lower job satisfaction.

In fact, workplace stress has such negative consequences that it has been declared a worldwide epidemic by the World Health Organisation.

It has become glaringly apparent after COVID-19 that the mental and physical health of employees is crucial.

Therefore, companies need to ensure that their employees are physically and mentally healthy by providing access to facilities like counselling, a gym membership, health insurance, health check-ups, extra sick leave, downtime, and a proper work-life balance. There is a growing trend among companies to give their employees a mental week off to cope with burnout and the stress caused by COVID-19.

4. Flexibility

Before the pandemic, physical offices were considered to be critical to productivity and work culture. They played a vital role in attracting new talent.

But now, hybrid workplaces are a reality. The pandemic has amplified the need for flexible working conditions both for the employee and the organisation.

Remote working saves time, money and the stress of travelling to a fixed location at a fixed time every day. Hence, many employees have begun to appreciate working remotely.

Although companies are saving on overheads, infrastructure, etc., and have access to a global talent pool, some employers are still not quite convinced about a remote workforce.

Hence, many people who prefer having the choice to work from home will leave their organisation and search for other opportunities that allow them these benefits.

5. A healthy relationship with the manager

The adage “people do not leave bad jobs- they leave bad bosses” is absolutely true. There is nothing more important than interpersonal relationships within a company.

Through the pandemic, managers have been the glue that has held organisations together. But those who have not been supportive or empathetic towards their teams are bound to see people leave.

Managers, thus, need to be trained to be aware and empathetic at all times because their attitude and behaviour can have a significant impact on their employees’ outlook and frame of mind and can determine whether they stay or go.

6. Rewards and recognition

Who does not like to be rewarded for a job well done?

Companies looking to increase employee morale and engagement need to realise that it is not just about rewarding success but, more importantly, rewarding effort. After all, not all endeavours and hard work end up in success. And at the end of the day, someone has still put in immense hard work and effort.

Companies must take into account the ground reality and recognise efforts. This will only motivate employees to try harder next time.

It is natural that companies that appreciate their employees and their attempts will have high retention rates and engaged employees.

Companies looking to increase employee morale and engagement need to realise that it is not just about rewarding success but, more importantly, rewarding effort. After all, not all endeavours and hard work end up in success.


The move from the physical world to a virtual world has been a wild ride, with many challenges and learnings. This shift is going to have a lasting impact on every business- big or small. But although we have always known that the only constant is change and companies need to pivot to remain current, it has become even more apparent after the global pandemic.

As companies begin hiring again, post-Covid, there will be many great opportunities available, and people are sure to be tempted to go looking for greener pastures.

After all, managing the employee turnover rate is vital to a company’s long-term success.

Now is the time for companies to pivot and think through strong retention strategies so that they do not lose their most valuable talent to rival companies.

And now, it’s your turn! If you have any interesting thoughts or experiences on how companies can retain their best talent in the post- Covid / remote working era, you could leave us a comment or get in touch with us- we would love to hear from you!


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