Turning "The Great Resignation" into Great Employee Retention
Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of employees across industries have quit their jobs and will likely continue to quit en masse unless working conditions improve. As employers, it is vital to understand the way the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our workers. Approaches to work are changing, from leaving jobs in search of safer conditions and higher wages to pursuing passions as career paths. A recent survey found that 41% of workers were considering quitting their jobs or changing professions this year. Examining the causes for the Great Resignation elucidates many areas in which employers can improve business practices and policies for their employees.
Resigning employees are citing the following as primary reasons for leaving their current positions:
Compensation and Benefits
The current wave of resignations was led, in large part, by restaurant and hotel workers, with over 740,000 people quitting their jobs in these industries in April. Due to low wages, short staff, customer issues, and inadequate safety precautions, many service industry employees felt fed up with their positions.
One study found that an improved work-life balance was one of the top reasons employees would leave their jobs; as poor work-life balance can lead to numerous physical and mental health issues. A well-managed work-life balance improves employee engagement, turnover rates, and talent attraction, among other factors.
The pandemic has negatively affected the mental health of many individuals, with 4 out of 10 U.S. adults reporting symptoms of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder during the pandemic, compared to 1 out of 10 adults reporting the same symptoms in 2019.
Along with other mental health issues, burnout, a specific form of stress related to work, has increased, with surveys showing that 67% of workers felt that burnout was worsened by the pandemic.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA has issued citations from coronavirus-related violations resulting in proposed penalties of over $3 million.
An unexpected result of the pandemic was a 50% increase in retirements from previous years. Due to augmented unemployment benefits and stimulus payments allowing workers over 55 to save more money than in the past, many workers decided to leave the labor market entirely.
Employees have made it clear that they need improved working conditions, and employers are tasked to respond to retain and attract workers. Here are our top tips:
The most crucial tool in improving employee retention and attraction is your current employees! Discuss with your employees what you can do to improve their work experience and their favorite parts of the job. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for workplace improvement during COVID, so understanding what your employees need is the perfect place to begin.
- Listen to Employees
With federal and state pandemic aid nearing its end, current and potential employees are looking toward jobs with the best compensation. From wages that accurately reflect the hard work employees perform, to benefits like paid time off or flexible schedules that allow them to perform at their best, employees who have a renewed focus on their quality of life will be attracted to robust compensation packages.
- Improve Total Compensation
Workplace engagement has fallen since the start of the pandemic. One study reports that 46% of respondents felt less connected to their company, and 42% felt that company culture had diminished. Planning fun activities like lunches and virtual events, adding ice breakers to meetings, encouraging casual conversations in downtime, and recognizing employees for their work can strengthen your team’s bond and help stave off burnout.
- Increase Workplace Engagement
More U.S. adults than ever have displayed mental health issues during the pandemic, and many are leaving jobs in search of workplaces that will support their mental health. Provide mental health coverage in insurance plans, establish an employee assistance program or other accommodations, and offer resources like mental health apps, meditation or yoga classes, or mindfulness training to improve mental health and decrease burnout.
- Encourage Good Mental Health
Vaccinations rates are rising, but a new study found that 66% of respondents were worried about their safety when returning to the workplace. Many are worried that employers will relax COVID restrictions too soon. Discuss what preventative measures will make your employees feel the safest, from mandatory masks to continued social distancing, and ensure potential new hires are aware of such measures.
- Ensure Employee Safety