Retaining the best and brightest workers has always been a concern for businesses. If you want to thrive and grow, you must invest in the people you have and not have to constantly recruit and train new ones. It’s difficult to cultivate a company culture of wisdom and authority if your churn rates are high.
The pandemic forced many people out of work either because businesses closed or they feared for their safety. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted a survey beginning in May of 2020, at the height of the pandemic. Out of the 16.9 million people who claimed unemployment in July 2020, around 57% did so because their jobs closed or lost business as a direct result of COVID-19.
What Caused the Great Resignation?
During the height of the Great Resignation, also called the Big Quit and the Great Reshuffle, around 47 million workers quit their jobs. Many left high-risk jobs such as healthcare and restaurant service. People either shuffled to new careers, taking advantage of the increased unemployment benefits of the time. Others opened their own businesses or retired early.
However, in 2022, the labor shortage remains. However, in July 2022, the number of resignations remained the same and the number of unfilled jobs still remained high. Many workers left because they wanted higher pay and better benefits. The lack of workers still remaining has many industry experts baffled. Currently, prices are at a 40-year high but wages aren’t keeping up. People aren’t seeking new employment. They are refusing to re-enter the rat race.
With so many businesses competing for a limited pool of workers, keeping your top talent may be harder than ever, especially for small businesses on limited budgets. What can you do to ensure you keep your best workers, so you don’t struggle to replace them?
1. Pay Fair Wages
It might be a stretch for small businesses to pay more, but pay your employees what you can afford. Megacorporations such as Amazon hire in at $18 an hour or more. If you don’t try to keep pace, you’re going to lose people to better-paying jobs. With costs on the rise, people have to earn enough to feed their families.
Rather than hiring another intern and forcing your experienced managers to train them, why not give your managers a raise and hire them a part-time assistant they can train for the long-term?
2. Talk to Your Employees
Recent surveys show around 41% of employees are thinking about quitting their jobs, with even higher numbers in the 18 to 25-year-old group. One way to ensure your staff feels valued and you’re giving them what they need to stay is by talking to them regularly. Take each one to lunch, making it a point to ask if they’re happy with their role and what they need to stay with you for the long term.
3. Offer Growth Opportunities
Young workers want to build their skill sets. Their initial reasons are likely to move up the ladder and make higher wages. If they feel you aren’t investing in their growth, they’ll seek a company that will.
Have in-house workshops. Pay for college courses that relate to tasks within your business. Make a policy of promoting from within if you can find someone with the skills. Start a manager track path so people feel they’re working toward something bigger.
4. Celebrate Your Workers
Find ways to show your employees you appreciate their efforts. Don’t forget those who work off-site. With the increase in remote work, it’s sometimes hard to connect with virtual employees. One study found remote work opportunities increased 4%, with experts predicting remote work would cover 25% of positions by 2023.
Some of the things you can do is have food on Fridays, host a gathering, recognize effort with gift cards and just say thank you for a job well done.
5. Create an Excellent Company Culture
People often want to feel they are part of something bigger and of value to the world. Think about what type of company you’d want to work for and strive to create a culture that screams inclusiveness and care.
What happens when your employee grows ill or has a sick family member? Does everyone jump in to take on some of the workloads and give the person time to heal or assist a loved one? How much do your employees think you and their co-workers care about them? It’s a lot harder to leave a company when you feel emotionally connected.
6. Offer Unique Alternatives to Full-Time
A recent McKinsey report looks at the Great Resignation and what’s happening with the job pool Out of those who left their jobs, only 47% returned to the regular workforce in a new position. However, just over half of them returned to full-time work. The others sought part-time positions or gig work.
What could you do to keep an employee thinking they need a better work/life balance? One thing would be job-sharing opportunities. Let two people split the hours of a traditional full-time job. You could also turn to a hybrid solution, where workers choose two days to come into the office and are home the rest of the time.
7. Share Success
People are resigning because they feel unappreciated and underpaid. One thing you can do to encourage your employees to come up with fresh ideas and input is by sharing in the profits. When your company is extremely profitable, give your workers bonuses. You can tie the rewards to performance as long as you don’t play favorites and base amounts on work only.
Did the team become more productive and complete work in less time? Reward them with an extra paid time off day. Look for ways to pat your workers on the back and let them know they’re part of a team and not just a grunt workers.
Think Outside the Box
Since the pace of resignations holds steady, finding unique ways to engage your employees is more important than ever. If you don’t hit all the right notes, you risk losing them to a competitor or to their own devices. Take time to ask them what they need and how you can improve as an employer. With a bit of determination, you’ll keep most of your skilled workers and reduce your churn rate.
About the Author
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.