The talent war is about to get fiercer thanks to “The Great Resignation.” Millions of U.S. workers have quit their jobs, and research shows that nearly half of employees are actively looking to make a change. Companies were already fighting to recruit new talent—now they also have to work hard to retain their current employees. Carrier Management has compiled some expert tips to help.
1. Re-recruit your team.
Companies are struggling to replace employees who have left as part of “The Great Resignation”—but don’t forget about the employees who stay, a new Harvard Business Review article warns.
Remember, these employees will likely find themselves carrying an extra workload until replacements are hired. They may be feeling overworked and underappreciated. In their HBR article, Debbie Cohen and Kate Roeske-Zummer, co-founders of HumanityWorks, advise that you should think of these employees like customers and put thoughtful attention into retaining them.
Re-recruit them. Spend time talking to your team members to understand their motivations and ambitions. Identify where opportunities might exist inside the organization (even if it’s on another team).
Reward them. This is not just about paying people more but also recognizing and valuing their contributions and impact on the team and company. It’s also important to put practices in place to ensure current employees are not shorted when new people are hired.
Engage them. Get employees involved in coming up with solutions for how to make the current situation better. Let them know that you don’t have all the answers and actively seek their help.
Source: “With So Many People Quitting, Don’t Overlook Those Who Stay,” Harvard Business Review, Oct. 1, 2021
2. Show gratitude.
Don’t forget to show gratitude for your team’s hard work. In addition to boosting your team’s morale and motivation, public recognition reinforces that you see and support their endeavors.
But simply saying the words “thank you” isn’t enough. Be clear on why you are grateful—make sure your appreciation is specific, timely and unique to the person you’re acknowledging. The more details you provide, the more meaningful your appreciation will be.
Remember that you don’t need to wait until a project is successfully completed to show appreciation. Acknowledging effort can be very affirming.
Be careful not to exclude anyone. Don’t call out specific teams or people who worked on a project at the risk of neglecting others. The sting of being left out can cause damage.
Source: “What Every Team Wants to Hear From Their Leader,” Real Leaders, Oct. 5, 2021
3. Have a “stay conversation.”
Trying to determine the best strategy for employee retention? Go straight to the source and talk to your employees, says a recent Know Your Team posting.
Talking one-on-one with your team members—whether in-person or via video call—will help you understand what their current experience of work is like and how it can be made better. Author Claire Lew recommends having Three Stay Conversations to improve employee retention:
Ask clarifying questions to find out what makes the employee feel motivated.
- In the past few months, when have you felt most motivated or energized in your work (if at all)?
- Which of your skills do you feel is not being used in your current role?
Ask how the employee feels about the team dynamics.
- Is there any part of the team you wish you got to interact with more?
- How do you prefer to be recognized for work well done?
Ask how the employee feels about the organization as a whole.
- Is there any aspect of the organization that you wish you knew more about?
- To what degree would you say the vision of the organization is clear?
Source: “The 3 Stay Conversations: The best way to improve employee retention,” Know Your Team, Aug. 19, 2021
4. Don’t just listen—act.
Many people who quit their jobs recently left because they felt like their efforts were not appreciated by their organizations. Why did the employees feel this way? It seemed like management just wasn’t listening to them, says Steve Keating in a recent post on his Lead Today blog.
The companies probably told their people that “we are listening” to you, he said. They encouraged their people to “speak up.” But those people never received feedback on their suggestions, questions or complaints. They never saw any changes come about because of their efforts to communicate. This lack of change or feedback leads people to believe management doesn’t value their input, experience or knowledge, Keating said.
As a leader in your organization, it is imperative that you make sure to respond to every suggestion, question or complaint. Stay open-minded and ensure there will be no retaliation, regardless of the complaint. You must also be willing to change what makes sense to change and to explain, in detail, when something simply cannot be changed.
Source: “You’d Better Do More Than Say You’re Listening,” Lead Today, Oct. 24, 2021
5. Create a culture of solidarity.
People need to feel like what they do matters—not just to the organization but to their teammates as well. Companies can fulfill this need by building a culture of solidarity, where purpose and belonging go hand in hand, says a recent Harvard Business Review article by Ron Carucci, co-founder and managing partner at Navalent.
Among the tips offered:
- Make personal aspiration a routine part of manager conversations. Taking interest in an employee’s whole life strengthens their sense of belonging and belief that they matter.
- Have flexible policies clearly tied to the business. The guidelines you put in place need to be tied to how you serve customers and how you make or deliver products or services.
- Make development part of the everyday experience. Instead of making career and professional development a “separate” experience, build learning and advancement right into people’s roles. For example, consider regular peer-mentoring sessions between people in adjacent functions that regularly work together.
- Give managers the discretion and resources to offer small acts of kindness as the need arises—e.g., gift cards for food-delivery apps, handwritten notes of appreciation or concern, and acknowledging moments like birthdays or anniversaries.
Source: “To Retain Employees, Give Them a Sense of Purpose and Community,” Harvard Business Review, Oct. 11, 2021