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7 Ways to Boost Employee Retention

The pandemic has caused seismic shifts in the workplace. Employees are reevaluating their jobs and careers, stepping back and asking, “Is this really where I want to work and what I want to do?” This is occurring in both remote, office roles and face-to-face jobs. Often referred to as the “Great Resignation,” this trend has resulted in many more open jobs than available candidates. As organizations struggle to hire in this highly competitive labor market, employers must focus on holding onto good employees.

Here are 7 ways that your organization can boost employee retention and attract talent.

1. Be flexible on where work takes place

A change that has dramatically impacted “in office” work is the ability to work productively outside of the office. Two years of working remotely has proven that employees can not only be productive working from home, but they prefer it. They like the flexibility, and they like not having to commute every day.

However, as COVID infection rates fall, many employers are pushing to go back to the office full-time. Many still hope that work life can return to “normal,” or the way it was before the pandemic. But employees are not buying it, according to Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief research scientist in this Fast Company article. “The most desired perk prior to COVID was having a flexible work schedule,” says Harter. “But now, that desire has been turbo-charged, and we must meet the moment by giving employees greater flexibility on where and when they work as long as they get their work done.”

We’re seeing this first-hand at Planet Professional. Candidates are turning down employers who want them full-time in the office even if it means lower pay with another company. Having flexibility is that important. And with the cost of gas and inflation, commuting is looking even more undesirable.

2. Widen your talent net

One of the advantages of offering flexible work arrangements is the ability to attract a more diverse talent pool. For example, women are more likely to have caregiving responsibilities. But being able to work at least partly remote makes it easier for women to juggle these multiple demands. Likewise, by offering remote work options, employers can draw on previously underutilized workers, like people with disabilities. Many qualified workers with autoimmune diseases or other medical conditions (some due to COVID) cannot work in physical proximity to others but still have skills that employers need. And, finally, employers can now reach beyond the geographical boundaries that limited their candidate pool.

3. Create connection

People want to feel connected to their coworkers and the organization. For sure, this can be challenging with hybrid work arrangements. Some companies are experimenting with three days in the office and two at home, assigning one or two common days where everyone comes in. Organize team events where people can just hang out socially and deepen their coworker friendships. Now that the pandemic is waning, we can start doing fun things in person.

4. Listen

Employees want to be heard and valued for what they bring to the table. Without that, they could be working anywhere. Employee engagement is even more important now than before the pandemic. Managers need to take the time to talk with their people and listen. Even if you’re not in the same location, set aside time to chat once a week, for instance, to just catch up. It keeps the door open – sometimes when there isn’t even a physical door!

5. Value inclusion and diversity

Many organizations are focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion. But it’s not just about creating goals, hiring a DEI executive or other structural changes. At its heart, inclusion is about listening and valuing everyone’s contributions. Allowing employees to be authentic and heard. When cliques form, when some employees feel like outsiders, or only a handful of people dominate the conversation, everyone loses out. The organization loses new ways of thinking and solving problems. They also stand to lose talented employees who know they can find another job where they will be valued.

6. Give autonomy

We’ve all experienced managers who micromanaged us – and we’ve all hated it. Even when employees need direction and help, they don’t need someone breathing down their neck. The trick is to provide that direction and then give people the room to achieve. There will be time to make a course correction if necessary. But giving that freedom shows you trust them. Train them, provide direction, set expectations and then let them go do it.

7. Show a path forward

People want to know they have a future with the organization. Employees are much more likely to stay when they can envision how they will grow and what the future might look like. Their manager can show that path, how they can move up (or laterally) and increase pay and opportunity.

As important as compensation and benefits are, employees are showing with their choices how important these other, more intangible aspects of employment are. But these ways of managing people are not new. They are basic tools that successful leaders have used for years to retain good employees.