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Money Matters: How to retain your employees in 2022 and beyond

By Pete Ord - GuideCX | May 14, 2022

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As we near the middle of 2022, the demand for workers remains high, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics, continuing the trend known as the Great Resignation.

But while a record number of workers have been quitting over the past year, did you know that it’s part of a longer trend? The share of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs has been increasing steadily over the past 12 years, with about 1.3% voluntarily leaving in 2009 and about 2.6% in 2021.

As the war in Ukraine adds uncertainty to the economy and U.S. interest rates increase, quitting rates may decrease, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect your employees. Let’s talk about what the Great Resignation really means and five strategies you can implement to combat the trend.

What is the Great Resignation, really?

“The Great Resignation appellation is, I believe, mistaken,” said Whitney Johnson, CEO of Disruption Advisors. “Most workers are not simply quitting. They are following a dream refined in pandemic adversity. They are aspiring to grow in the ways most important to them.”

It follows, then, that to keep your employees engaged in your company, your organization needs to support their dreams and aspirations. It needs to help them grow in important ways and counteract the adversity they experienced during the pandemic. It starts with listening and showing respect. 

Be intentional about listening and showing respect

As the talent marketplace continues to change, think of your employees like customers. Put just as much effort into recruiting them as you do into retaining them. Reward them for staying, engage them and strive to make sure they don’t feel they are being taken for granted.

“Make sure you’re communicating with existing employees so they feel valued,” said Jane Thier at Fortune. “Ask for their help to show you don’t know all the answers. And trust that they know how to do their jobs.”

Help employees develop

If you were to guess the average tenure of an employee under 34 years old, what would you say? According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure is a mere 2.8 years. And we all know how expensive it is to replace employees! Half to two times the employee’s annual salary, according to a conservative estimate from Gallup.

“This paltry number [2.8 years] means if an employee falls behind in their field, even by a few months, it can make it difficult for them to land their next job,” said Joel Comm, author and consultant. “One way that companies can alleviate this concern (and ironically cultivate retention) is by actively helping their employees maintain their edge.”

Invest in your employees’ professional development to earn their trust and loyalty. It will pay off for you and for them!

Invest in your employees and their families

Speaking of investing in your employees’ development, it’s important to provide resources and create an environment that supports them in other areas, too. Here are a few ideas:

  • Be transparent and thoughtful about your communication with your employees.
  • Help employees avoid burnout by enabling flexibility and work-life balance.
  • Provide mental health resources.
  • Subsidize daycare.
  • Provide more paid time off.

No matter what you do, “make sure that you’re strategically planning in ways to show your employees that you’re as invested in them as you want them to be in you,” Comm said.

Ask, don’t assume

Employees want to grow in ways that are important to them. But how can you know what’s important to them unless you ask? 

“It’s critical that executives inspire and communicate with top talent around three things: the future of the company, their value in the organization, and opportunities and development for growth,” said Karen Cho, HR leader at Designer Brands, at shrm.org. “What executives often fail to do is simply ask their top talent probing questions like, ‘What would make you consider an opportunity outside our company?'”

When you know your employees’ answers to questions like these, then you know what to do to keep them engaged and inspired. 

Turn employees into owners

If you can, set up an employee stock ownership plan. It takes some extra legwork up front, but the benefits for both you and your employees are worth it.

“Because an ESOP gives employees a share of the company, individual employees will directly benefit from the success of a company and will feel a sense of ownership,” said Jennie Muniz, CPA. “This can lead to an increase in productivity and an overall performance improvement for companies with employee stock plans.”

Workers across the country are still quitting in high numbers, so it’s crucial that employers be proactive about their retention strategies. Listen to your employees, help them develop, invest in them and their families, ask what they are looking for and give them ownership options. These strategies will help keep your employees happy, and your entire company will benefit.

Peter Ord is the founder of GuideCX, a client implementation and onboarding project platform based in Lehi, Utah.

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