Retaining employees during the Great Resignation

The so-called ‘Great Resignation’ – the huge numbers of workers leaving their jobs in pursuit of other opportunities – does not appear to be going anywhere any time soon.

Employers are faced with the prospect of losing staff, in a time of skills shortages and fierce competition. Indeed, job vacancies rose to a record high in between September and November, and almost a quarter of UK workers say they are planning to change jobs in the next few months

So what can businesses do to ensure that they are able to hire and retain staff in this difficult period? We spoke to six business leaders, to get their perspective.

Create a culture of belonging

The huge shift in the world of work over the past two years has seen most companies transition to some form of hybrid work. This can have huge benefits, but it can also leave staff feeling disconnected.

Marco FanizziMarco Fanizzi, EMEA General Manager & VP at Commvault, explains that “hybrid working gave everyone a chance to experience a wider variety of experiences during what would have been previously spent in – and travelling to and from – offices.  Many of us have reassessed goals and aspirations, by demonstrating different ways to balance career, family and friends.

“Just as many of us however also miss the creativity, spontaneity, collaboration and sense of wider working community that office culture created. Increasingly this means that if a job isn’t fulfilling enough people will move.  There is (currently) a reduced bond from working face-to-face with colleagues, that in the past would have been a bigger factor for employees to stay.”

These challenges caused by remote working mean that employers have to actively build a company culture if they want their employees to feel a part of the team.

Shirley J Knowles“Increasingly, employees are looking at company culture as a key component in deciding where to work – a sense of inclusion and belonging is crucial,” argues Dr. Shirley J. Knowles, Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer at Progress.

“Feeling as if they belong allows employees to feel appreciated, and that they are working in an organisation that offers real opportunities to grow. Organisations have to understand that for talent – especially women and minority groups – feeling included and valued is a huge motivator. Leaders should therefore take steps to promote a culture of inclusion. These can be simple – such as regularly checking in with your teams, or being more open about challenges. Other options include mentoring top talent, especially from minority groups, and ensuring that you’re regularly taking feedback from staff, and  taking appropriate action – immediately. Overall, it’s important to ensure that people are a top priority for your business. Making sure that their wellbeing is prioritised wherever possible will go a long way towards creating a company culture that staff will be pleased to be a part of.”

michael decesareMike DeCesare, CEO and president, Exabeam, agrees that company culture has to become a business priority. “All CEOs in the cybersecurity industry can build and foster diverse cultures that help turn ‘The Great Resignation’ around. Our industry can take advantage of the fact that a lot of passionate people of all ages and experiences are on the market right now, looking for more fulfilling work –– people who would love to join our industry’s cause to stop the adversaries from continuing to damage and harm the world through cyber crime, attacks, and other careless actions. We need to keep an open mind about hiring practices and create work environments that deliver a sense of belonging and purpose.”

Build a supportive work environment

Rob Shaw -SVP Sales and Managing Director EMEAWith power in the hands of the employees, traditional benefits are no longer enough to retain and attract staff. It’s crucial that businesses update their policies to ensure they are offering a thoughtful and up to date package.

Rob Shaw, SVP Global Sales at Fluent Commerce, argues that “building a strong company culture with good benefits is key to creating a business that staff want to work for. Fluent Commerce, for example, operates a truly flexible workplace, where open and transparent communication across the organisation is actively encouraged. Weekly Q&A sessions enable our team to raise work-related issues they’re concerned about. All these initiatives contribute to our staff feeling valued and part of a team.”

Dave Birchall“Research suggests more than ever that if employers are to retain their people that they have to look beyond the traditional loyalty drivers and focus on offering environments in which people can learn, grow and develop,” adds Dave Birchall, Chief People Officer at Node4.

“At Node4 we recognise that our people are our greatest asset – we have a strong focus on offering opportunities for our team members to develop, both personally and professionally.  We have a dedicated Node4 academy that provides learning and development opportunities through personal effectiveness, presentation and communication, leadership training, coaching, mentoring and access to technical qualifications and training. We invest in our teams through Exceptional Service training workshops and reward & recognition programmes.  Our employee value proposition is constantly reviewed to ensure that we are offering more than just a place to work – we support our employees through wellbeing initiatives, access to mental health and resilience support, sporting activities, team events and family-focused benefits.”

Invest in learning and development

Aside from a lack of support or lack of connection, one of the biggest things that can drive employees away from a workplace is a lack of opportunity for professional development. Investing in learning and development programmes for staff is one of the key ways that businesses can increase retention.

ian rawlingsAs Ian Rawlings, RVP EMEA at SumTotal, outlines: “A lack of learning and development opportunities will often drive employees away – in fact, almost 1 in 4 cite it as the main reason for leaving a past job. A feeling of growing and developing is key to job satisfaction so investing in training plays an essential role in retaining staff for any size of business. Furthermore, effective staff training will increase efficiency. It may even allow a business to fill in any skills gaps without having to go through the expensive hiring process.

“It is also important to ensure that any training is effective, closely tailored to company needs and flexible. Additionally, it’s important to provide a diverse mix of lessons including short, bite sized, training that can be integrated into staff work days, as well as longer courses for those that want to dive in even deeper into a specific topic. In today’s increasingly hybrid workplace, it is also vital that this training can be completed anywhere, so it’s critical that businesses invest in the correct technology to enable this.”

Likewise, a survey conducted earlier in the pandemic found that over 40% of respondents were considering quitting their jobs for more fulfilling work once COVID-19 was over. “Companies in every industry should be able to relate what they do to something that makes the world a better place,” DeCesare adds. “Rally your employees around that mission.

“This is also a time for all of us in leadership to focus on how to build an emotional connection with our employees, many of whom are feeling more disconnected than ever before, especially in an industry like ours where so many people are now working from home. Do executive and team off-sites when you can. Encourage open communication lines. Listen to your people about what they are working on towards the mission.”

From changing work practices, to updating inclusion strategies, to investing in employee development – ‘The Great Resignation’ has the potential to turn the workplace on its head. Whilst we don’t know what’s around the corner in the new year, it is safe to say that listening and adapting to changing employee needs will be imperative as ‘The Great Resignation’ continues.

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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